Marketing optimistic about 2022, but diversity concerns linger – Bluestripe

bluestripe outlook 2022 - mediashotz

Britain’s marketing sector is optimistic about a return to growth next year with both revenue and jobs openings set to rise, however key issues, such as the need to boost diversity, remain an active concern for brands. 

That’s according to B2B marketing services group Bluestripe Group, which has released the findings of its annual Digital Marketing Industry Sentiment Report in conjunction with its online publication New Digital Age. 

Optimistic outlook

The report, which surveys senior marketing industry executives, shows a positive outlook for revenue increases and staffing as we head into 2022, but there’s a stark warning not to drop the ball on diversity.

Increased confidence in revenue, hiring, and retention of staff 

Building on the findings from the 2020 report there continues to be increased confidence in revenue, hiring, and retention of staff as the furlough scheme comes to an end. 

In 2020 just 64% of participants expected to see an increase in revenue over the next 12 months, however, this year more than four in five (80%) are confident they will see an uplift. 

Additionally, just 18% believed their revenue would increase by 50% within the year in 2020, which has now increased to 28% in 2021.

To cope with a boom in business, companies are also looking to boost their manpower with nearly 64% planning to increase headcount over the next 12 months. 

For those businesses that have used the furlough scheme, two in three expect their staff to come back, with only 6% stating their furloughed employees will not return. 

Businesses are also adopting new ways of working with 95% operating a hybrid system and more than four in five expecting only two or three days in the office.

2022 - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The year ahead: Marketing/media sector optimistic on growth, but concerned the rigours of pandemic may spike diversity efforts.

Businesses optimistic – but don’t drop the ball on diversity

Employee safety and diversity were listed as the biggest concerns with more than two in three fearing the pandemic will mean projects to build more inclusive teams may struggle for funding due to financial constraints.

Diversity remains a key issue for consumers and business leaders, and scrutiny surrounding company hiring policy and internal workplace culture means agencies cannot afford to drop the ball.

Remote working may have made it harder for companies to maintain strong diversity planning, but with a focused and conscious effort on the part of hiring managers, there’s every reason to expect progress in the next 12 months.

Commenting on the hybrid workforce Jerry Daykin, EMEA Senior Media Director, at GSK said: “We’re creating a new office and so we have to ask, what does an office of the future look like?”

“It probably isn’t big enough for 100% of our employees to come in on the same day, because they probably never will. But there need to be small rooms where you can take phone calls and more breakout spaces. 

“On days when you’re going to the office, you’re going to be available for casual conversations, you’re going to have workshops, you’re going to have things that make face-to-face interactions. 

“There’s not a huge point in coming into the office on days when you’re going to be more head down on emails or on video calls.”

Image by Sergio Carabajal from Pixabay
Colours of the rainbow: Diversity must remain on the agenda amid growth optimism.

Andy Oakes, Managing Director of Bluestripe Group said: “The latest survey paints a picture of an industry with a positive outlook for the year ahead. 

“Understandably there is still caution as the government ends the furlough scheme and encourages workers to go back to the office. 

“However, the overall finding is that the industry is confident, though not complacent, as it gears up to increase billings, diversify the talent pool and go on a recruitment drive.”

Other key findings include:

  • 56% expect fewer physical events, 27% expect more
  • 50% say clients are expecting work faster
  • 25% reveal some clients have asked for reduced fees
  • 70% say the recession is their top concern followed by the death of the third-party cookie and a spike in COVID infection rates

Discussing the future of publishers and the death of the third-party cookie, Jo Holdaway, Chief Data and Marketing officer  at The Independent said: “Publishers have now got the confidence to challenge vendors, and we have GDPR to thank for that.” 

She added: “All our segmentations are first-party only. We’re using new technologies and setting up relationships with ID vendors. 

“We want the industry to act now rather than have people saying let’s do what we can with cookies until the deadline, and then we’ll worry about it at one minute past midnight – which is what everyone did with GDPR.”

Overall, the picture is that progress is starting to be made on diversity but, in some cases, it may have stalled under the pressure of the pandemic. 

The industry is being given a clear warning that as it gears up to win new business and hire the teams to deliver it, no company can afford to drop its guard on boosting diversity.