The report does not sound too pessimistic about the year's prospects with AAR confident that the total new business market for 2017 will match that of 2016.
This is due to the data only including reviews that made the press when an appointment was made in the first nine months of the year. It also does not include ongoing pitches, of which there remain a significant number.
"This fact is particularly relevant as we enter what has historically been one of the busiest quarters of the year, so the picture may have changed significantly by year-end," the report said.
This optimism could be due to the number of advertising appointments rising by 10.9% year on year, a considerable improvement from an earlier report that the discipline was down by 3.3% in the first half of 2017.
"It is very welcome to see proof of the advertising market returning to the same level as last year and hopefully exceeding it," Kerry Glazer, chief executive of AAR said.
But the number of £20m+ UK advertising accounts was down on 2016 with five clients appointing a new agency in the first three quarters of the year, compared with eight in 2016.
A number of major global/international appointments that provided positive news for UK agencies including Airbnb, American Express, British Airways (International Airlines Group), Citroen, EA Sports, eBay and Electrolux.
Advertising was the only discipline to rise in terms of new business reviews this year. All other disciplines dropped with digital plunging by 27%.
"A significant trend is emerging where clients are appointing agencies and consultancies for digital strategy and innovation more than communications," the report explained.
CRM and direct marketing reviews were down by 11.1% but this is due to a less competitive pitch environment, Glazer noted.
"For some disciplines such as digital, there is a definite shift in what clients are looking for from specialist agencies, whilst for others such as the CRM community, it is becoming a case of developing business with existing clients rather than being in constant competitive pitch mode," she added.
Media agency wins were also down (-11.4%) versus the first three quarters of 2016, but the reviews that took place included a number of significant national and global appointments including Barclays, IAG, Ladbrokes Coral, Molson Coors, Procter & Gamble, Groupe PSA (owner of Peugeot and Vauxhall), Sainsbury’s (eventually) and Walgreen/Boots.
Integrated agency appointments were down 7.2% and remained at the same low-value level as in previous years. The numbers would be lower if not for the government's ambitions to make more integrated appointments.
In June, AAR reported that VCCP had topped the new business league for 2016.