The association's director general Francis Ingham also promised that he would be addressing the issue "intensely" this year.
Ingham's comments follow the results of the PRCA's latest barometer, in which 29 per cent of the 48 agency heads surveyed said they had seen over-servicing levels increase marginally or significantly in the past quarter. Just nine per cent had seen over-servicing decrease.
The quarterly report frequently shows a greater proportion of agencies reporting an increase in over-servicing their clients than the proportion saying it had decreased - although the proportion reporting no change is generally well above 50 per cent.
Ingham said: "The problem of over-servicing, however, continues to dog our industry. My concern is that overly aggressive procurement teams are using the wider economic uncertainty to squeeze their agencies. That kind of behaviour is neither fair, nor indeed in clients' longer-term interests. Procurement is therefore an issue the PRCA will be addressing intensely this year."
"The regular race to the bottom in which some procurement teams engage undermines agency-client relationships, weakens commitment and in my view produces weaker delivery. In contrast, a race to the top, where agencies and clients work as partners, is a far more attractive and productive attitude. Let's make it one of our 2018 New Year Resolutions."
Budget and confidence growth
Other findings of the barometer make for better reading, however.
- 37 per cent of agency heads report that clients marginally or significantly increased their budgets in the last quarter. 39 per cent of budgets stayed the same, leaving decreases at 24 per cent
- 45 per cent of agency heads say that staff numbers will increase in the next quarter, with 48 per cent of respondents reporting that staff numbers will stay the same.
- 27 per cent of agency heads expect that they will increase their use of freelancers in the next quarter, with 6 per cent of respondents saying that they will decrease usage.
- 37 per cent of agency heads say that say they feel more optimistic about the industry in general, with 12 per cent saying that they feel less so, and 51 per cent not committing either way
The previous barometer, covering Q3 2017, also showed an increase in client spending - and in over-servicing.