WFA and MediaSense research reports marketing is facing “worst-ever” talent crisis

Will Taylor

WFA and MediaSense have released a report that shows 48 per cent of all advertisers, agencies, ad tech companies and media owners think the industry is facing its “worst-ever” talent crisis, topping off at 54 per cent among agencies, according to new research.

68 per cent globally say that talk of a “crisis” is not overstating the matter, a figure that rises to 74 per cent in the US. In addition, 77 per cent of respondents said there is scarcity of talent in their organisation, peaking at 85 per cent among the agency and ad tech sectors, and at 83 per cent in the US and 93 per cent in APAC. 67 per cent of all respondents believe that talent scarcity is proving to be a major blocker to growth.

The findings are based on responses from more than 400 stakeholders from many of the world’s largest advertisers, agencies, media platforms and technology companies. 81 per cent of respondents were at director level with advertiser respondents responsible for over $110m in annual communications spend.

Key areas of talent shortage are in data and analytics, eCommerce/retail media and measurement. Data and analytics was also highlighted as the single most important capability to prioritise for the next two years.

Matt Green, Director, Global Media Services at WFA said: “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. While the industry couldn’t have predicted a global pandemic, this study also identifies intractable, but more predictable issues, that have had a dramatic impact including training, talent management and even a perceived lack of purpose. These factors need to be addressed for the health of all our businesses and in the interest of a stronger client and agency dynamic.”

Factors being blamed for the skills shortage include poor training, talent management, client agency behaviour and over specialisation and recruitment.

Ryan Kangisser, Managing Partner at MediaSense said: “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.”