JOHN MCGEE

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

the in­dus­try, 52pc are fe­male while 48pc are male. How­ever, when it comes to the board­room, just 28pc of all di­rec­tors are fe­male and this drops to 20pc for agency CEOS and man­ag­ing di­rec­tors. While this is up slightly on pre­vi­ous years, there is con­sid­er­able room for im­prove­ment now that gen­der di­ver­sity has be­come a burn­ing issue through­out the ad­ver­tis­ing world.

In the UK, for ex­am­ple, the In­sti­tute of Prac­ti­tion­ers in Ad­ver­tis­ing (IPA), has set a tar­get that would see 40pc of all agency board mem­bers be­ing fe­male by 2020.

Fur­ther down the chain of com­mand, other gen­der anom­alies are ev­i­dent. For ex­am­ple, fe­males are greatly un­der-rep­re­sented in cre­ative de­part­ments while prob­a­bly over-rep­re­sented at ac­count man­age­ment level. Again, room for im­prove­ment.

When it comes to the age pro­file of the in­dus­try, it’s clear that it’s a young per­son’s game with 45pc un­der the age of 30 while 36pc are aged be­tween 31-40. When one looks how this pans out across the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, 37pc of those who work for me­dia agen­cies are un­der the age of 30. This com­pares with 27pc for cre­ative agen­cies.

At the other end of the age spectrum, just 6pc of agency staff are over the age of 50 and its prob­a­bly fair to say that most of th­ese are founders or di­rec­tors of the agen­cies they work. If this is the case, then it’s also fair to say that agen­cies re­ally need to look at ad­dress­ing this age im­bal­ance, par­tic­u­larly in me­dia.

Although the Cen­sus does not pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on the com­bined turnover of the in­dus­try, es­ti­mates put it at around €1.2bn a year of which an es­ti­mated €1bn is at­trib­ut­able to me­dia agen­cies with the bal­ance gen­er­ated by a broad range of cre­ative and dig­i­tal agen­cies. This is still some way off the hal­cyon days of 2006 when it was es­ti­mated to be worth in the re­gion of €1.4bn.

But as bud­gets con­tinue to shift on­line to the likes of Face­book and Google, we may never re­turn to the heady days of the Celtic Tiger and it’s clear from the sur­vey that there’s still con­sid­er­able down­ward pres­sure on bud­gets. This is par­tic­u­larly true for cre­ative agen­cies which re­ported a 3pc de­cline in in­come in the IAPI Cen­sus.

Not sur­pris­ingly, me­dia agen­cies, con­tinue to see an in­crease in both billings and in­come as group trad­ing desks con­tinue to squeeze as much as pos­si­ble out of the mar­ket and by of­fer­ing more value-added ser­vices to clients in ar­eas like data, con­tent and pro­gram­matic But over­all, there is a no­tice­able change in the lev­els of con­fi­dence within the in­dus­try with those pre­dict­ing that turnover will “in­crease or strongly in­crease” dropping from 74pc in 2016 to 58pc this year.

The in­dus­try is also fac­ing other chal­lenges ac­cord­ing to those mem­bers sur­veyed by IAPI. Apart from de­clin­ing bud­gets, higher wage ex­pec­ta­tions, ris­ing costs, staff re­ten­tion and a grow­ing skills gap are amongst the most wor­ry­ing.

On a pos­i­tive note, new clients en­ter­ing the mar­ket, a move by some agen­cies into in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, an in­creased dig­i­tal fo­cus and the cross-sell­ing of other ser­vices all bode well for the in­dus­try.

While the cen­sus paints a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of what’s go­ing on in ad­land, it should also be re­mem­bered that the out­put of the in­dus­try is es­ti­mated to sup­port up to 30,000 jobs and its con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy could be as much as €6bn a year, if not more.

So, if you work in ad­ver­tis­ing, tell your mother that the brothel has closed down and you are now mak­ing an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the Ir­ish econ­omy.

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