AAR issues 'positive diagnosis' for new-business levels despite 9% drop in reviews

Asda: One of fewer brands to complete an integrated review in the first half of 2018
Asda: One of fewer brands to complete an integrated review in the first half of 2018

Pitch activity is looking "more positive" after a busier Q2, according to AAR, despite a study showing a 8.9% year-on-year decline in the number of completed new business reviews in the first-half of the year.

The six-monthly figure in AAR’s New Business Pulse report compares favourably against the 38.8% annual decrease in the first quarter, but pitches are being shared out among an "increasing number of very capable agencies", the consultancy argues.

Most disciplines have seen a year-on-year decline in pitch activity, including advertising (-7.7%) and integrated agency appointments involving three or more disciplines (-25.7%).

However, digital pitch activity was up 11.8% on the same period in 2017, while media appointments remained at the same level.

Brands, too, have made advertising agency appointments include Asda, Camelot, Coral, Harveys/Bensons for Beds and MoneySuperMarket.com, while Asda and P&O Ferries have concluded integrated pitches. Media agency appointments were made by advertisers including Betway, the Government/Crown Commercial Service, Sky and Whitbread.

Just over half of brands included in the study (58%) opted for "open" and competitive reviews, while 21.2% awarded their business to an agency without a "comparative" review taking place. A further fifth (20.8%) used existing agency rosters to award new briefs.

The data only includes appointments that were made up until the end of June, and does not include ongoing reviews.

Kerry Glazer, chief executive of AAR, said: "On the face of it, it may have looked somewhat alarming when we saw that, in the first quarter of 2018, the new business market was down by 38.3% year on year. As we mentioned at the time, this was in comparison to a frantically busy first quarter of 2017 and the fact that our Pulse report only covers reviews that have been completed.

"As a number of reviews that were begun in the first quarter have only recently made appointments, these latest figures are consequently a truer reflection of the health of the new business market. Whereas in the first few months there may have been major concerns, the diagnosis appears to be much more positive as we enter the second half of 2018.

"The more significant issue is, however, that a similar sized new business market place is being shared out amongst an increasing number of very capable agencies."

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