Top media investment forms in India are working to refresh their teams with future-ready talent. According to industry estimates, media agencies in India are increasing their workforce strength by about 12-15 percent this year. A quarter of these recruits will be on-boarded to drive new capabilities from content to commerce.
Marketing is rapidly transforming on the back of evolved consumers, believes Ajay Gupte, CEO – South Asia, Wavemaker, a WPP group company. “Instant access to information and products/services has put the consumer purchase journey on steroids. Ability to access, enhance and activate data in ways customized to cater to every individual need of our massive consumer base is key to success,” he says.
Today, the GroupM-owned agency is looking for data analysts, audience scientists, content specialists, and more performance marketing experts to augment teams. The company wants its talent to be entrepreneurial to keep up with the scale and speed of work today. Much like the mainline creative and digital marketing companies, media investment agencies are also ideating in real time for several brands and are no longer just crunching weekly viewership numbers or strategising one big project at a time.
The talent quest
Homegrown company Madison World has been hiring more freshers from various academic streams to increase the agency’s bench-strength, says the company’s executive director Lara Balsara Vajifdar. She adds, “We are hiring for more thinking roles as doing roles are getting automated. We are also looking at more specialized roles to boost domain expertise across categories.”
Madison World also wants its talent to “be happy”. The agency uses Happyness.me, a proprietary tool that measures the happiness quotient of corporations and its people. Happyness.me is a part of media veteran Raj Nayak’s company House of Cheer. Vajifdar says the agency is setting up periodic surveys to keep a check on employees’ happiness quotient.
Last year, Omnicom Media Group India launched ‘OMG Bootcamp’, with a focus on training and developing aspirants for the future. This paid internship program focuses on helping young graduates hone their craft and not only tests their mettle but also gives them the opportunity to work full-time at OMG and its agencies.
Anju Kurien, talent head at Omnicom Media Group – India, is looking for “problem solvers and integrated thinkers”. OMG India is also invested in adding new skill sets to its existing team members. Kurien shares, “With transformations in the advertising ecosystem, brands today are turning to media-agnostic professionals with a keen understanding of integrated thinking. It plays a key role in having a larger understanding of the brand and consumer needs.”
Identifying the roadblockers
Attracting and retaining the right talent is the biggest challenge facing ad companies today. Gupte points to the increasing level of competition agencies are facing from companies in other industries looking for similar profiles and fishing in the same pool. “Apart from media agencies, today we compete with marketers, consultants and even tech companies for talent. As industry leaders, the onus is really on us to add to the talent pool,” says Gupte.
The agency is building a steady supply of talent suited for the roles that are opening up. Wavemaker India regularly hires freshers from colleges and gets them on board after grueling classroom and on-the-job training. The agency is also upskilling its current workforce to keep them future-fit.
Kurien notices another trend that’s proving to be a challenge for recruiters at agencies.
“The challenge faced during the courtship journey from recruitment to joining is a new phenomenon. Candidates are on the lookout for opportunities, sometimes even while they are in the courtship period. Today, it is more important than ever to keep potential candidates engaged until they are fully assimilated into the system.”
The advertising industry is grappling with one of its worst talent crises ever. The problem isn’t that there aren't enough talented people. It’s that many people don’t want to join agencies these days. Making matters worse is the exodus of talent to brands’ side, with new-age companies like D2C firms and streamers attracting the best of the lot with bigger paychecks and better work-life balance.
Further exacerbating the issue are phenomena like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘the Great Reshuffle’ which is defined by a large-scale resignation by working professionals who are prioritizing both flexibility and fulfillment. In April 2021, according to LinkedIn data, globally two-thirds of the workforce had either left a job or considered leaving a job. The trend continued into 2022.