Where Is the Media “Talent Crisis” Greatest?

August 22, 2022

Almost half (46%) of media industry stakeholders (brands, agencies, publishers and technology companies) agree that the industry is in the midst of its “worst ever talent crisis,” according to a study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and MediaSense. Additionally, more than three-quarters (77%) feel that there is some or a high degree of scarcity of talent for media roles in their organization, and two-thirds (67%) agree that the shortage of key skills is proving to be a major blocker towards growth.

The survey polled 400 stakeholders at some of the world’s largest advertisers, agencies, media platforms and tech companies, with advertiser respondents responsible for more than $110 billion in annual communications spending.

The report asked respondents where the areas of scarcity in talent were found. Drilling down to the US, respondents were most likely to cite either some or a high degree of scarcity in Data & Analytics, with fully 89% pointing to this (higher than the EMEA – 84% – and APAC – 83% – regions).

This has been a persistent problem in the marketing industry, with CMOs in the past indicating that data science and analytics have been the areas with the most critical skills gaps.

Meanwhile, E-commerce / Retail Media emerges as the next-most cited area with a shortage of talent for respondents in the US, as cited by 84%. With retail media soaring during the early days of the pandemic and advertisers planning to up investments, this has become a growing area of need for expertise among relevant stakeholders.

Other areas cited by at least 7 in 10 US respondents include Measurement (80%) and Omnichannel Planning (70%). By contrast, fewer than half perceive talent shortages for Social & Influencer Marketing (39%), Talent Management (41%), Media Buying (46%) and Creative (48%).

Not surprisingly given the above responses, the single most important capability for the next couple of years will be Data & Analytics, with 69% of US respondents saying that it will be one of the top 3 skills and capabilities (of 13 listed) to increase in importance over that timeframe. (Digital marketers have previously said the same.) The next-most cited, E-Commerce / Retail Media, was indicated by far fewer (46%) respondents, as was Measurement (35%).

Broadening the respondents to the entire sample, the survey results indicate that two factors are to blame for the perceived shortage in talent: training and development not adequately being prioritized, and talent management not being adequately prioritized, each cited by 76% of respondents.

There are, of course, other factors, too. Two-thirds (68%) said that younger talent are finding great “purpose” in other industries, while 6 in 10 (61%) point the finger at poor client/agency behavior accelerating the decline. Of note, just 3 in 10 agreed that too much automation is making the work less interesting. However, almost 6 in 10 agreed that the best talent is migrating to the tech platforms.

In order to address the current shortages, the initiatives with the biggest perceived impact are readdressing the work/life balance and investing more into internal talent management and retention.

You can read more about the “talent crisis” here.


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