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Marketing and media faced with ‘worst-ever’ talent shortage

The marketing and media industries are facing their ‘worst-ever’ talent crisis according to nearly half of all advertisers, agencies, ad tech companies, and media owners around the globe, research from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and MediaSense has found.

The survey of more than 400 marketing industry stakeholders found that 48% believe that the industry is facing its most difficult period when it comes to talent. And 67% of all respondents feel this is a major blocker to growth. This is notable when you consider that 77% of those surveyed admit to there being ‘some’ or ‘high’ scarcity of talent in their organisation – a percentage which rises to 85% among the agency and ad tech sectors.

“The talent crisis is affecting all parts of the industry and clients are feeling the pinch within their internal global media teams. But, as this research shows, the impact is particularly pronounced on the agency side and this is having a profound impact on the ability of clients to execute campaigns globally,” said Matt Green, Director, Global Media Services at WFA.

The key areas identified as having talent shortages were data and analytics (84% at both advertisers and agencies), ecommerce/retail media (71% at advertisers and 73% at agencies), and measurement (69% at advertisers and 74% at agencies). And the most important capability to prioritise over the next two years was also said to be data and analytics for 71% of advertisers and 64% of agencies.

The factors blamed for the skills shortage include poor training (76%), talent management (76%), a lack of purpose (68%), poor client agency behaviour (61%), over-specialisation (58%), and recruitment by tech companies (58%).

“This study comes at an important time in the industry with businesses experiencing levels of staff attrition never seen before.  And while we remain first and foremost a people-centric business, ‘riding the wave’ is no longer a viable strategy.  We know the impact this has on future growth, so it is vital that businesses start to invest in talent in a more meaningful way, ensuring they strike a better balance between specialists and all-rounders, youth and experience, expertise and attitude,” said Ryan Kangisser, Managing Partner at MediaSense.

The Media’s Got Talent? study also found that burnout was a key factor behind the talent shortage, with 76% of advertiser respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that readdressing work/life balance would have a significant impact. There was also a feeling that greater flexibility around how and where people work (73%), greater clarity around career progression (72%), and improved salary and benefits (61%) all could improve things.

On the other hand, disciplines such as media buying, social media, influencer marketing, and creative aren’t suffering quite as much when it comes to a skills shortage. For example, only 36% of respondents see a scarcity in social and influencer marketing in EMEA. Equally, less scarcity is being seen across disciplines which can be more easily automated or handled via offshoring – such as ad operations or search marketing.

“We spend a lot of time bringing in really talented people and asking them to conform to the systems, norms, and culture of the organisation where we should actually be asking them to use their skills and experiences to really change us as an organisation. That’s how we keep moving forward,” said Belinda Smith, Founder and CEO, Second Arrow and WFA Global Diversity Ambassador.