Agency Business & Covid-19 in 2020 & 2021

Agency Business & Covid-19 in 2020 & 2021 – Survey Report by Ad World Masters – Part III


When businesses around the world have transformed, their marketing strategy also changes. Successful digital marketing agencies have to recognize this to adapt to their clients’ new goals and needs. Businesses need agencies who (what do businesses want from digital marketing agencies)?

In our report “Agency Teams in 2020 & 2021”, it was apparent that digital marketing agencies were increasing their team in sectors of digital marketing skills that are in high demand. This reflects one of the ways in which agencies are moulding their business to succeed in 2021. This report looks further into other changes agencies made or will make for 2021.

🎯 The majority of agencies (65%) did not lose leads in 2020.
The most popular strategies used by agencies against the pandemic in 2020 was to cut costs, prospect new leads, and upsell.
58.7% of agencies will use more MarTech in 2021 than ever before.

Business in 2020

Ad World Masters asked the agency leaders, “According to you, which industries gained during the Covid-19 pandemic?” Most of them pointed to the e-commerce, hygiene, telecommunications, and electronics & technology industries. It comes to no surprise that ad and marketing agencies were able to recognize this. Agencies also pointed out the sectors which suffered the most from COVID-19: tourism and transport, automotive, and luxury. Agencies that focused on servicing clients from those sectors were badly harmed together with their clients. In our report, “The Financial Situation Of Agencies In 2020 & 2021” we looked further into how agencies could combat this by specialising in more than just one industry, so that if one failed, they were secured by other clients.

Agency Business & Covid-19 in 2020 & 2021

What is interesting, 50% of agencies which took part in the survey, declared an increase in the number of inquiries coming to their agencies in 2020 compared to 2019. And only 35% of them faced a decrease in the number of business leads. Due to lockdowns, many businesses had to quickly digitize their services. This meant improving their website, boosting their social media presence, taking online payments, holding events online, and competing with other home-delivery services. For many businesses, crises means a need to check different options for advertising. But relatively less clients were deciding for project implementation. So many agencies had to work hard on prospecting and affect decrease in incomes.

In 2020, 63,8% agencies were cutting costs to optimize operational spending (utility bills, rentals, services, etc.). This was the most popular strategy to face business threats caused by the pandemic. Many businesses achieved this by working remotely.

✅ Other popular strategies used by agencies to combat the pandemic were:
✅ Prospecting in new industries (44.7%),
✅ Upselling to existing clients (40.4%),
✅ Offering new services (40.4%),
✅ Exploring new channels for new business (34%),
✅ Prospecting in new markets (27.7%),
✅ Optimizing operations – adoption of new management or MarTech software (42.6%).

Agency Business & Covid

49% agency CEOs say that 2020 was a difficult year for their agency. At the same time 36,7% agencies say that year 2020 was profitable for their agency. What are perspectives of agencies in 2021 you can find out from the next article “Opportunities & challenges for agencies in 2020 & 2021”.

Agency Business & Covid

Marketing Technology

The pandemic is speeding up digitization processes on the market. MarTech seems to be one of the biggest winners of the crises caused by COVID-19. In 2021 58,7% of agencies will use more MarTech in 2021 than before. 

The Garner Technology Survey 2020” revealed that marketing organizations under-utilized their martechs and made use of only 58% of it. Experts at Forrester published future predictions for MarTech, based around the understanding that marketers will use MarTech more in 2021 than ever before-something that our survey also reflects. The report discussed the importance of AI powered personalised experiences. This includes chatbots, content recommendations and automated use of ad spaces. 

Agency Business & Covid

Customer Experience

Consumers and businesses alike are relying on online platforms for sales and e-commerce. An easy, smooth and quick buying experience can sometimes be even more important than the price of the product. Consider how likely a customer is to buy something if it only takes a few clicks, versus if they are taken to one or two other pages to fill multiple pages of forms. MarTech has allowed businesses to integrate the buying process and payment methods in their website so customers don’t have to leave the page and make purchases with saved payment details. With more than half of all millennials already preferring online purchases than from brick and mortar stores, as found by the report “Ecommerce Statistics for 2021”, it is crucial for businesses to utilize MarTech to build a seamless and flawless buying experience.

Chatbots are an exceptionally important tool for businesses. They save costs, free up time for professionals, are available 24/7 to provide customer service, can be used for conversation marketing and can easily gather user data. AMEInfo predicts in their report “Chatbots: Are they now on the comeback trail?” that in 2021, 85% of interactions with customers will be handled without a human involved and that up to $5 billion will be invested in this technology. 

Content Marketing Tools

Businesses fight for recognition in the digital space, which is why SEO is one of the most in-demand services in digital marketing. It is more complicated to automate skills like copywriting, which are essential for a successful SEM campaign. MarTech tools are used to digitize as many processes as possible to reduce the time consumption of SEO. These are processes like gathering customer data, scheduling, searching for keywords, building a coherent content strategy and analyzing website core vitals. The ultimate goal of SEO MarTech tools is to reduce the need for human input as much as possible to just the creative aspects which can’t be handled by AI.

Email and social media automation tools give businesses the freedom to bulk post and manage large scale campaigns with just a few clicks. This is a blessing for digital marketing agencies; the campaigns of many different clients can be neatly arranged into one cyber space for seamless and organized management.

No-code/low-code tools

Another MarTech predicted to dominate in 2021 is the rise of no-code or low-code tools. Microsoft discussed no-code trends in their article “3 low-code trends: why low-code will be big in your 2021 tech strategy”. No-code softwares can automate many time-consuming processes, saving hundreds of hours of month. Such processes include installing and configuring updates, report generation, and data validation. These tools can also analyze manual processes and recognize areas that can be automated to save time. This is an opportunity for businesses to save time and money, because they don’t have to pay an hourly rate to employees to carry out tasks that have been automated. They can focus on high priority work. 

The greatest benefit of low-code and no-code tech are building apps in a minimal time frame. This doesn’t necessarily mean that businesses will cease to outsource their app building and so it in-house instead. In the same report we touched upon earlier, Gartiner predicted that low-code tools will make up 65% of app development in the next 3 years. This will allow agencies in this specialty to save up time and deliver faster, more efficient services. With less manual coding, web and app development agencies can take on a lot more projects, therefore raising their income cap. 

The first instinct for developers when they see the  popularity of automation tools is to assume that their job has been replaced. Digital marketing and ad agencies need to embrace new technology and quickly adapt themselves to be the best provider in high-tech, optimized and efficient services. They have to remember that businesses aren’t marketing or tech experts-even with the knowledge of MarTech trends, they may not know how to take advantage of it. They may under-utilize its potential. 

Óscar Alonso, CEO at t2ó commented that, “Digital marketing is becoming more and more sophisticated and many times complicated. This means brands need partners to make it simple and focus on being significant, meaningful and business oriented.” This is an example of an agency utilizing tech and automation as opportunities rather than threats.

Business in 2021

39.1% of agency leaders think that platforms matching agencies with brands will play a bigger role in the business in 2021 than before. Marketing has been hugely diversified, and businesses need easier ways to find ad and marketing needs to fulfil their unique targets. Platforms like ours simplifies this process by categorizing and ranking agencies according to different metrics. It helps businesses narrow down their search, and helps agencies climb on a platform where they have more visibility. So if you share this opinion and if you don’t have an account on our platform yet take a chance and register now-it’s free.

Agencies recognized a need to improve their organization: 34.8% of agencies declared that they will use dedicated software to manage their agencies more than before. In a market where MarTech companies are becoming stronger, agencies themselves see a need to service their clients in a more structural way- 45.7% of agency CEOs considers that in 2021 the agency market will be much more product oriented, which means creating and selling agency services as products. It means that agencies will be more likely to predefine their most popular services and sell them as a package. Through this they are more likely to sell their services faster, avoiding long negotiations. 


A rapid change in international circumstances has accelerated innovation. Where both agencies and businesses were stagnant in automating and digitizing their processes, they are now propelling faster than ever to be competent in the face of a new market.

Digital marketing and advertising agencies in 2020 were impacted by the events that transpired in 2020, but they did not get the worst end of the stick. What was a challenge to many businesses was an opportunity for agencies-such as a need to digitize quickly after remote working or providing their services online. The demand for digital marketing has suffered but agencies are optimistic about their turnovers in 2021. The pandemic stimulates the growth of adaptability of business organizations. But it also digitizes the economy. Everything from services and shopping have become even more digital. This presents many opportunities for the advertising industry.

👉 Download the full report

– – –

Are you an agency top manager or a new business manager?
Register and add your agency for free now.
Do you need even more clients? Consider purchasing Premium Account – learn about its benefits & costs.
Get new briefs. Gain new clients. Grow your agency.

Related articles