Econsultancy has just released the latest version of its Digital Agency Rate Card Survey, which benchmarks average charge out rates for more than 50 different job roles.

The Rate Card Survey is produced on a triennial basis and this year 364 agencies participated in the research. 

Average rates range from £465 a day for a junior media planner to £891 a day for a director / partner, though fees increase if an agency is based in London, and also rise in line with turnover.

How are agencies doing compared with 2008?

Unsurprisingly, the shaky economy has definitely impacted rates. Most roles are now charged out for 1-10% less than they were in 2008, before the recession properly took hold. 

Although there has been some minimal deflation in rates overall, some roles appear to be bucking the trend. For example, agencies are charging out data and tech roles at a small premium. It suggests that talent may be scarce in these areas, while demand from clients is high.

The future is bright

Despite the trials and tribulations of the past two or three years, confidence is soaring. On average, agencies are anticipating growth of around 26% in 2011. Even the largest agencies predict that they’ll grow by 20% this year. 

In 2012 we can expect to see rates increase. Respondents to the survey said that they expect charge out rates to rise by an average of 8%. The smaller agencies are likely to push up rates by 10% next year, while the larger ones expect to charge an additional 4%.

It is safe to say that the digital agency sector has matured. Around 10% of the agencies we surveyed had at least 100 employees and have an eight figure annual turnover.  

The London factor

It goes without saying that there is a premium for London, and it can be rather hefty. For example, you might expect to pay double for a director / partner at a large agency based in London, compared with a smaller one based outside the capital.

As a rule of thumb, London-based agencies charge around a fifth more than other South East agencies, and a third more than agencies outside the South East.

The bigger the agency, the bigger the fee

Larger agencies charge higher rates. This is illustrated if we look at the spread of fees for a director / partner, where rates double for agencies with a £5m+ annual turnover compared with those that generate less than a million.

More detail please

Download the full survey (subscriber access, from £295 a year – unlocks all of our premium research) to find out about the proportion of retainer-based work, the average discount offered on the rate card, the proportion of freelancers and contractors used, how business is usually won, the detail on individual roles, and much more besides.

The survey is ideal for people working in procurement, as well as for agencies that wish to benchmark their own rates against the average. Hope you find it useful.