Small agencies brace for impact, but say remote work isn’t slowing them down

Many expect client budget and project changes will have a negative effect on their businesses.

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Small agency leaders are feeling skeptical about the near-term even as they express confidence in their teams’ ability to work remotely amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That’s according to a survey of 250 predominantly small agencies (fewer than 30 employees) around the world between Wednesday, Mar. 18 and Tuesday, Mar. 24. It was conducted by Ad World Masters, a platform that matches agencies and clients.

Internal impact on agencies

More than 90% of those working at agencies in North America and Europe were working remotely. When asked how prepared they were to work remotely on a scale of one to 10 with one being “not prepared” and 10 being “totally ready,” the average answer was 8.5. More than 40% answered with a 10.

Remote Work Challenges for Agencies

Agency Challenges Covid Adworldmasters
Source: Ad World Masters (March 2020).

Just over a third (34.2%) said the communication and teamwork was one of the main challenges of remote working, with particular mention that in-progress communication is easier and more spontaneous in person.

Productivity followed closely with 33.8% saying it’s a concern with families home and teams not being accustomed to collaboration tools.

Technical concerns such as network access, VPN issues and large file sharing were noted by 23.4% of respondents.

Interestingly, maintaining team morale — and company culture — was cited as a concern by just 12.6% of respondents. Less than 10% said communication with clients is a main challenge of working remotely, as most client communication is not conducted in-person.

External business impact on agencies

The survey then asked agency leaders about the expected impact on the projects and budgets for their existing clients.

Expected impact on primary client services

Agency Challenges Covid Adworldmasters External Business
Source: Ad World Masters (March 2020).

More than 30% expect major client changes will impact their businesses. Roughly 45% of budget and project changes are expected to have a negative impact on agency businesses. On average, 14% expect budget or project cancellations.

On the new business front, agencies expect new prospect inquiries to fall by 30% in the coming months.

Not all bad

It should be noted that more than 20% of respondents aren’t anticipating upheaval to their businesses during this time. And while the near-term looks bleak for many agency leaders, there were positive notes that surfaced in this survey. Many expect the market to bounce back within a year and others noted this is “an opportunity for real digital transformation.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was Third Door Media’s former Editor-in-Chief (October 2018 to December 2020), running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, MarTech and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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