C-Suite Is A Little Less Sweet: Digital Agency Exec Comp Falls Double Digits
by Joe Mandese, Mar 4, 2013, 8:33 AM
The percentage of top-level digital ad industry execs -- managing directors, partners and C-level managers -- earning more than $450,000 declined during 2012, showing that the digital ad business was not immune from the effects of the global economic recession, according to findings of a member survey released this morning by the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA).
While nearly a quarter (23%) of the executives responding to the annual survey reported earning $451,185 or more in 2012, that was down from more than a third (35%) in 2011, and down slightly from 25% in 2010.
The global digital agency trade association said the shifts reflect regional economic turmoil, and the fact that many digital agency clients simply cut back during the downturn, which in turn likely affected executive compensation packages.
“Static and declining salaries at some of the world’s leading digital marketing, technology and elite production companies – highlights how the industry is affected by shrinking budgets and the global economy,” the report notes, adding: “With strategy playing a larger role in the service offering of member companies, part of the downward drift can also be attributed to the recruitment of a greater diversity of both junior and senior strategists and planners during 2012.”
In the C-suite, chief technology officers appear to have been impacted the least, with the average CTO earnings declining only 5% to $144,379 during 2012, while account directors dropped 16% to $103,772.
The report said average salaries for creative directors also declined relative to previous years, and now average between $105,290 and $142,894.
On a bright side for U.S. digital agency execs, the report from London-based SoDA found that Americans have fared better than counterparts in the U.K. and the rest of Europe.
“The average salary of a US-based art director was £57,000 ($87,702) compared with 80% of European agencies paying less than £50,000 ($75,127),” the report found. “Only 14% of art directors in the USA receive less than £50,000 ($75,172).”
Twenty-nine percent of the digital agency CTOs in North America earned between $189,522 and $237,560, while none of their European counterparts earned that equivalent or more. The majority of European CTOs (75%) fell into the $142,894 to $167,027 pay bracket.
"It’s tough at the top due to a variety of factors from shrinking client budgets to the macroeconomic implications of global economic health,” stated SoDA Executive Director Chris Buettner, adding: “Incentive and variable based pay is also playing a more dominant role in the overall numeration package not reflected in the base."