IPA EffWorks: third of budgets wasted due to poor briefing and bad comms

BetterBriefs Project: global study into the shortcomings of marketing briefs
BetterBriefs Project: global study into the shortcomings of marketing briefs

Report reveals 'staggering and uncomfortable truths' about the confusion, misalignment and miscommunication between marketers and agencies.

A third of ad budgets are wasted due to poor briefing, a new global study revealed at this week's IPA EffWorks Global 2021.

Respondents estimated that a substantial 33% of marketing budgets go to waste due to poor briefs and misdirected work. Rebriefs happen too often with neary two-thirds of marketers (69%) and nearly three-quarters of agencies (73%) agreeing, leading to loss of time and money and fuelling frustration on both sides.

The findings were unearthed via a collaboration between research firm Flood & Partners and the BetterBriefs Project, which was initiated by Australian strategists Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul von Weiler.

The report reveals "staggering and uncomfortable truths" about the confusion, misalignment and miscommunication between marketers and agencies.

The survey represents the opinions of more than 1,700 marketers and agency staff from more than 70 countries. The aim is that this data will form a baseline from which to build a culture of better briefs.

Davies and von Weiler said: "The aim of the BetterBriefs Project is to jumpstart more informed conversations about briefs. They should direct and inspire, not confuse and frustrate. Our results demonstrate the sad reality of the current state of the industry. Marketers and agencies should communicate better with each other."

The research indicated a degree of self-delusion among marketers – 80% think they write good briefs, while only 10% of creative agencies agree. Over three-quarters of marketers (78%) think the briefs they write provide clear strategic direction, with only 5% of creative agencies agreeing.

The majority of marketers (89%) and agencies (86%) agree that it's challenging to produce good creative work without a good marketing brief. However, 90% of marketers and 92% of agencies agree that the brief is one of the most valuable – and paradoxically most neglected – tools marketers have to create good work.

Janet Hull, IPA director of marketing strategy and executive director IPA EffWorks, said: "How can you say what you mean if you don't mean what you say? Which is precisely the issue that this thorough research brings to the fore: you can't produce good work without a good evidence-based brief with realistic outcomes and sensible budgets. They are the building block of the client/agency relationship and the campaign outcome.

"A bad brief results in wasted time, money and patience all around. But let's turn a negative into a positive here. Now we know the extent of the problem, we are also presented with an opportunity to improve the briefing process and reclaim the third of the marketing budget lost to bad briefs, which is why we will be adding this to the list of our EffWorks R&D priorities for 2022."

Image credit: VioletaStoimenova via Getty Images 

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