ACNielsen ORG-MARG AgencyTrack Agency Equity Index has given advertising agencies something to think about. As per the findings, the recurring agencies in top slots for most parameters are O&M, Lowe and JWT. In the overall picture, O&M takes the lead. Lowe, JWT, McCann Erickson and Mudra follow in that order. Industry leaders comment on how they opine on the study and its findings.
AgencyTrack came into being in 1990, and the last round was seen in 2001. In this sixth round, ACNielsen has surveyed more than 300 advertising buyers covering key decision making levels and different industries. AgencyTrack is a study of perceptions. Even as these industry leaders subscribe to the study, they point out some areas of disagreement in this edition.
On a generic level, the top three players assert that they subscribe to the study and even use the findings to pave the way forward. “You are both nervous and excited about being in a spot like this,” remarked O&M’s John Goodman. “On the one hand, there is a fear of being too proud and on the other, you are just so happy. Nonetheless, based on the detailed analysis, we will identify points, where the agency is still weak to do even better work for the future and consolidate our position,” he added.
JWT, too, has a roadmap drawn. Its CEO Colvyn Harris said, “There are quite a few changes in our creative structure with new people coming on board. We are focussing on that area better, so there are some changes that we are expecting in the next round.”
Pranesh Misra, COO, Lowe, said, “Even in the past, we have used AgencyTrack to develop strategies and we will continue to do so.”
However, raising a few points of concern though, Harris said that on the parameter of Agency Equity Index (AEI) on centre wise evaluation, JWT had been ranked as the fourth agency in Kolkata. “I can’t understand why this is the case. For instance, year-on-year, we have won the ‘Agency of The Year’ award in Kolkata, which is on the basis of the work quality. And in the AgencyTrack, this is only market were we see such a dip,” he remarked.
AgencyTrack was executed in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai. O&M tops in all centres except Kolkata, where Lowe leads. On the overall level, O&M leads with a 3.49 score. Lowe follows with 2.13, JWT at 1.82, McCann Erickson at 1.53, while Mudra takes the fifth slot at 1.27.
The AEI was also done across sectors like FMCG, durables, industrial products, services and lifestyle. With the exception of lifestyle, O&M again claims top position in every sector – two areas where it is well ahead of the competition are services and FMCG.
Lowe has been ranked fourth in the FMCG sector and Misra opts to cite this point to express his concerns of the findings. “There are some big surprises that the study thrown up and this area is one of them. We are the best agency as far as FMCG is concerned and we have led in this area for a long time. Being placed in the forth slot is quite a surprise,” he said.
O&M’s Goodman’s concern is of a different nature. “For the last few tracks the same agencies are coming in the top slots. This is a concern from the competitive point of view. There has to be other agencies also making their mark on some of the parameters for the development of the ad industry on the whole,” he maintained.
Despite the concerns, all experts agreed that studies like AgencyTrack played an important role in the industry’s daily life. “The fact that every agency shares the cost of executing the survey indicates this. Such surveys, which are done by a neutral body, give an objective point of view and that is important,” they opined.
JWT’s Harris offered a slightly different view. He said, “AgencyTrack measures perception and one has to respect that, so to that extent the study does play a role in the industry’s operations, but despite that, the role is a limited one. For instance, will the clients of an agency ranking ninth or tenth move to an agency ranking third or fourth? I don’t think so.”
Lowe’s Misra said, “We have subscribed to the study right from the beginning and it has helped us in developing some of our strategies. Any agency must know its strengths and weaknesses, and that is what AgencyTrack and other such studies help you with.”
Rankings by Respondents – Where do the leading agencies stand today?
AcNielsen has taken votes on two counts – ‘Best Agency’ and the ‘Percentage considering agency amongst the top three agencies’. O&M ranks highest with 37 per cent, JWT follows with 14 per cent and Lowe is next at 10 per cent. The agencies hereon see quite a fall – McCann Erickson making only 4 per cent and Bates India 3 per cent.
The parameter ‘Percentage considering agency amongst the top three agencies’ sees O&M taking a lion’s share of 77 per cent. Here, Lowe follows at 44 per cent and JWT at 38 per cent. McCann Erickson and Mudra take the fourth and fifth spots with 21 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.
Agency Equity Index (AEI)
AEI is derived using the Brand Equity Index assessment approach of ACNielsen Winning Brand system. Based on this, AEI is derived using three measures – respondents’ favourite agency, the agency they would recommend, and the willingness to pay a premium for that agency. The index ranges between 0 and 10.
The study has been executed in both the senior and middle level managements. In the agency’s equity at the senior level – the decision-making level of the organisation – O&M rules again with a score of 3.26. Lowe follows with 2.21, JWT is at 1.73. McCann Erickson and Mudra claim the fourth and fifth positions again with scores of 1.53 and 1.17, respectively.
The middle level, which the study describes as the Influencers, too, votes in favour of O&M. Here the agency scores a 3.59, followed by Lowe at 2.08, JWT at 1.87, McCann Erickson at 1.52 and Mudra scoring 1.32.
The AEI was also done across sectors like FMCG, durables, industrial products, services and lifestyle. The top five in the services sector are O&M with a 3.85, Lowe, 2.22, JWT makes 1.48 and Mudra and McCann Erickson are at 1.43 and 1.01, respectively.
FMCG offers some differentiation with Leo Burnett taking the fifth slot with a 1.26 score. Lowe (1.66) and JWT (1.68) are at the fourth and third slots, respectively. McCann Erickson looks up in this sector with a count of 2.2 and O&M is up ahead at 3.69.
O&M leads in consumer durables with a score of 3.34. JWT (2.56) and Lowe (2.14) are again the following agencies with Mudra (1.62) and McCann (1.6) following on the fourth and fifth spots.
The competition does get a little close for the next two sectors. Even though O&M is high for industrial / allied products, its score of 2.89 is not far from Lowe’s score of 2.69. Some more good news for Grey Worldwide comes here, where the agency makes it to the fifth position in this category with a count of 1.08. The third and fourth positions are occupied by JWT and McCann Erickson, which get 1.91 and 1.53, respectively.
Coming to the final sector – lifestyle – again an area where O&M (2.69) can increase focus, with Lowe breathing down its neck at 2.78. The lineup hereon is similar to industrial / allied products, where in JWT scores a 1.78. McCann Erickson and Grey Worldwide are at 1.04 and 0.92, respectively.