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Insights From Analytics: Agency vs. Clients

March 13, 2024
July 22, 2024

One of the most important responsibilities in a client/agency relationship is deriving marketing insights from advertising analytics. It can make or break the effectiveness of campaigns, and the partnership, at every level. However, when it comes to defining who exactly is responsible for unearthing insights from your agency analytics, the answer is not so clear-cut. This blog explores the informational nexus between agencies and clients, examines how both parties traditionally approach analytics and insights, and exposes how professionals on both sides of the coin approach this topic. 

The Agency/Client Matrix

There are many overlapping roles and responsibilities within the agency/client relationship matrix; without clear brand guidelines and goals from the client, the agency will have difficulty delivering campaigns that align with the brand. In the same spirit, without solid account management protocols, clients most likely won’t extract the maximum value from their partnership with an agency.

Add to this the issues of a data dictionary or agency taxonomy, clients hiding their true OKRs & KPIs, a lack of proper diagnosis of desired client outcomes in marketing strategy, slimmed-down budgets, endless distribution points, and churn within agencies, and it’s clear that measuring advertising effectiveness is dependent on many factors. At the end of the day, when all the performance data comes in from campaigns, there is really only one question; what are the insights from all these analytics? 

Inspired by this question, I took to social media to inquire amongst the marketing community about whose responsibility it is to deliver insights from analytics. The answers, which came from both the in-house and agency side, illuminate this dichotomous relationship. Surprise surprise, the answer is not so definite ‘either/or’ but a mixture of both. 

James Hankins, marketing strategist and founder of Vizer Consulting, answered that there is a difference in the types of insights that are being sought out and the dataset that is inspiring them. James smartly assigns the analysis of advertising outputs to the agency, while the insights on the outcomes of those ad campaigns, fall within the client’s realm. 

James Hankins talks about analytics and insights from the client and agency side

Echoing the sentiments of James, digital workplace strategist and community advisor Rachel Happe, hit on the fact that when clients outsource analytics insights to their agency, this creates a barrier between business dynamics and execution. 

Rachel Happe talks about agency and client analytics

Rebecca Baker, Jessica Kia, and Camden Andrews all point out that the validity of agency analytics should be questioned by clients before insights can be applied on either side. 

Rebecca Baker and Jessica Kia muse on the fact that advertising analytics need to be vetted by clients

Camden Andrews talks about his experience both in-house and agency side in understanding analytics

And finally, automotive marketing rock star Whit Norrad, from FlexDealers, hit on the essential point that each client has a unique business model which dictates the approaches and analysis of their marketing needs. There has to be a tacit understanding of desired goals on both the agency and client-side in order to arrive at anything insightful.

Whit Norrad speaks about the unique needs from certain clients when it comes to agency analytics

Getting To Insights From Analytics

When it comes to taking the headache out of performance analytics for agencies, it would make sense that simply providing more metrics and insights to clients would be the answer. But, clients can easily become overwhelmed by data alone which further saps their energy for absorbing insights.

The important thing to remember about “insights” is that it’s much more than explanatory information. Insights should really be applicable information and conclusions that can be applied to processes. However, without a firm understanding of a client’s basic business intelligence data, the agency can only provide so much insight. Guy Sie, digital marketing strategist at Flower Council of Holland, hit on this information gap in his answer to my question. 

Guy Sie admits that most agencies don't have the level of intelligence from clients required to make meaningful insights about analytics

The ‘rubber-meets-the-road’ moment in the quest for insights from analytics should really begin with a clear delineation  of relationship dynamics between the agency and client at the start of the partnership. Whether it’s a more thorough briefing process, ongoing meetings with sales and leadership teams, or a combination of these factors, useful insights will be easier to derive when there is a level of trust and transparency between the agency and client.

This is why drilling into and perfecting a brief is the best way to collect performance analytics and provide applicable insights. Before an agency lets one ad out of its doors for a client, there needs to be a strict understanding of the outcomes and effects the client is hoping to achieve with their campaigns. Check out our agency-side guide to the briefing process for details on how to build a better brief

Ultimately, extracting insights from analytics is not just the responsibility of the agency or the client; it's a collaborative effort involving a continuous exchange of data and ideas, assumptions and conclusions, along with precise KPIs. Therefore, instead of each side pointing out the other's flaws, both agencies and clients should actively engage and commit their best efforts to effectively develop, deploy, and evaluate their marketing campaigns.

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