Study Finds Current Talent Shortage Worst Ever, Suppressing Industry Growth

A new report from the World Federation of Advertisers and consultant MediaSense finds that the current advertising and marketing employee shortage is the worst talent crisis ever experienced by the industry and one that is stunting industry growth. 

The most critical staff shortages are in data and analytics, eCommerce, retail media and measurement, per the study, which is based on a global survey of more than 400 respondents across advertiser, agency, ad tech, platforms and tech companies representing more than $110 billion in ad expenditures annually. 

Nearly half of those polled said the industry is facing its “worst-ever” talent crisis. 

And 77% of respondents acknowledged that there is “some” or “high” scarcity of talent in their organizations, peaking at 85% among the agency and ad tech sectors, and at 81% in the US and 93% in APAC. 

And most believe that industry growth is being negatively impacted as a result with about two-thirds of respondents stating so. 



Respondents said that filling roles in the data and analytics segment is the single most important capability to prioritize for the next two years, followed by ecommerce and retail media. 

The study also found that some skills are in less short supply, including disciplines such as media buying, social media, influencer marketing and creative. 

“The talent crisis is affecting all parts of the industry and clients are feeling the pinch within their internal global media teams,” said Matt Green, the WFA’s director, global media services. Green noted that the research shows that “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,” added Green, “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.” 

Tech companies—with their ability to pay more and offer better amenities—are to some extent causing a shortage of more technical roles for marketers and agencies, according to the report. 

Burnout is also cited as a key contributing factor. Seventy-six percent of respondents think that readdressing the work/life balance would help alleviate the crisis. Investing more in internal talent management, greater flexibility about how and where people work and greater clarity around career progression were also cited as steps that could help ease the crisis. 

Improved salaries would also help, per the report, especially in light of the recent inflation surge.



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