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Integration vs Specialisation: Here’s what marketers think

AGENCY SCOPE South Africa 2017/2018 asked 217 marketers what type of agency they are currently working with to meet their communication needs. 51.5% of the respondents currently work with an integrated agency and 41.9% work with specialized agencies.

When asked what kind of agency they would prefer to work with in the future, those figures are very similar showing that 57.6% of South African Marketers indicate that that they would prefer to work with integrated agencies rather than several specialized agencies.

Johanna McDowell SCOPEN Africa Partner notes that, “Most of our respondents mentioned that advertising, digital, marketing services and PR are the types of disciplines they take into account when defining an integrated agency.”

This is similar to the trend in other international markets, which shows a desire for integration. Cost savings, the desire of dealing with fewer partners and efficiency in communicating a consistent message, were the main reasons mentioned.

Respondents distribute their marketing budget as follows: 43.1% in ATL, in BTL and 24.3% in Digital. Following Colombia’s (22.4%), South Africa is the market with the second lowest percentage invested in Digital among the 12 SCOPEN analysed markets.


Which disciplines do marketers consider when defining an integrated agency?

Advertising 98.5%
Digital 95.5%
Activation/ Sales Promotions 79.3%
PR 77.3%
CRM/ Direct Marketing 70.2%
Media 65.7%
Events 48.5%


“What marketers are generally ending up with is a combination of a lead integrated agency supported by strategic specialist agencies particularly in the area of digital, media and marketing performance. This is also the case on a global basis”, adds McDowell.

57% of South African marketers would prefer to work with an integrated agency. There is a 6.1% gap between reality and desire as 57.6% of companies would like to work with an integrated agency, while only 51.5% actually do. In 2016 only 36.4% were working with an integrated agency. The percentage of Marketing budgets allocated to digital is the second smallest among the 12-market benchmark (24.3 vs 26.8 globally)


Integrated 55.2 %
Specialised 41.9%
Both 2.2%



South Africa
Integrated 57.6 %
Specialised 41.9 %
Both 0.5 %


What kind of agency are you currently working with?

51.5 % of marketers are working with an integrated agency because they believe they meet all their communication needs while 41.9% of marketers prefer specialised agencies noting that they look for specialists in each discipline.

If it were your decision, who would you prefer to work with?

57.5% of marketers prefer integrated agencies while 41.9% said specialised.

“Marketers have confirmed that they would love to find everything under one roof, they prefer to work with integrated agencies because it is time saving and in some ways it saves them costs. However, CMO’s are fully aware that agencies do not have everything under one roof and that even the ones that do have integrated services, the level of depth for each specific area is limited,” concludes McDowell.

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