More Ads But Fewer Jobs In Media
As sure as the sun rises, every year the US media industry grows both in number of ads served and total ad revenue. In 2018 alone US Ad Revenue was up 4.1%. With that robust growth, you’d expect the number of people employed in all channels of US media would be going up too. However, that’s not necessarily the case. For the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track of things like this, jobs in media have declined in a year of overall economic expansion.
There are two primary causes for the reduction in media jobs. First, advertising campaigns are being planned a bought by fewer agencies and concentrated among fewer big media outlets. The agency landscape used to be made up of thousands of “Mad Men” style shops, but now is mostly consolidated within the big four Holding Companies. As a result US agencies shed 5,000 jobs last year alone. Then there’s the publisher side. With the Google/Facebook duopoly (triopoly if you include Amazon), taking over 90% of the new dollars going into digital media, there’s less revenue and resources (aka jobs) going to the mid-to-small players.
The other macro trend effecting media jobs is automation. With more ad spending shifting from managed service to programmatic, traditional sales jobs are giving way to “data processing” jobs. As an example of this pivot, in September Snapchat transformed its entire Sales org into a Business Solutions group comprised of tech specialists. As machine-to-machine media buying scales expect this trend to accelerate.
So yes, overall ad spending in the US appears to be in a healthy place. But no, this growth doesn’t automatically translate into employment. Tomorrow’s media jobs will be concentrated among the big guys, and be more focused on programmatic and data management. Is your career future-proofed for this shift?