Marketers and Agencies Are Struggling to Find Top Talent, Even as Spending Increases

Survey reveals more advertisers seeking out specialty shops

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While marketing budgets continue to grow, agencies and marketers both say finding top talent remains a problem.

A recent New Year Outlook survey by RSW/US found that 60 percent of marketers and 52 percent of agencies expect marketing budgets to increase either “somewhat” or “significantly” in 2018, marking the second straight year that 60 percent or more of marketers anticipated such an increase. Last year, 62 percent of marketers expected budgets to rise, while only 49 percent of agency respondents anticipated an increase.

Agencies and marketers both listed “finding good talent” as their top challenge for each other. Eighty-five percent of agencies claimed they found it either “very” or “somewhat difficult” to hire quality employees, with 83 percent of marketers feeling the same way.

Marketers felt accurately measuring ROI was the next biggest challenge for agencies, while agencies viewed increased competition as the second biggest hurdle for marketers.

While marketing spending is expected to increase, a smaller percentage of that budget appears to be going to large agencies.

More marketers are also seeking out specialty shops. Seventy-one percent of marketers said they were looking for a “specialty agency” in 2017, marking a drastic upward trend in the past several years. In 2013, 47 percent of marketers said they were looking for a “specialty agency” while 52 percent that response the next year.

RSW/US owner and president Mark Sneider attributed the trend to three factors.

“The fact that the media/marketing landscape is so fragmented and getting more complex,” he told Adweek, leads to a need for “more specialized agencies to complement existing relationships.”

“The second reason has to do with the growing importance of data and analytics,” he said. “This year, 87 percent of marketers stated that this was important when looking for a new agency.” (That’s compared with 73 percent last year.)

“While a significant number of marketers feel it is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important to measure ROI for digital and traditional media [77 percent and 61 percent, respectively], only 38 percent of them feel their current agency is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ effective at supporting their needs in this area,” he said.

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