MFA Industry Census: Staff numbers in media agencies up 6.2% YoY


Across the industry, 11% of the population are graduate new recruits

The Annual MFA Industry Census has delivered a health check of the media agency industry, revealing that media agencies are continuing to experience strong job growth while vacancy rates have pulled back from last year’s record highs

Completed by all MFA member agencies, the annual Census reveals that as at September 2022 staff numbers in media agencies are up 6.2% year-on-year, with MFA agency members employing 4,685 people, compared to 4,412 people in 2021 and 3,703 in 2020. 

Across the industry, 11% of the population are graduate new recruits and 12% are Boomerangs (those who have returned to media agencies after working in another sector) and Career Changers – a positive sign that Boomerangs are returning back to the industry.

The number of media agency professionals employed in Talent roles has increased by 68% over the past years, reflecting the growing importance placed by agencies on supporting their people.

The vacancy rate has dropped by 29% year-on-year to 8.5% (from 12% the previous year), but remains higher than the normal level of circa 6% vacancy. If all vacant roles in media agencies were filled, the industry population would exceed 5,000 people.

In terms of volume, 57% of vacancies are being driven by in-demand roles in Implementation, Client Services and Affilliate & E-commerce. When indexing against the industry population, the greatest vacancies are in Affilliate & E-commerce, SEO and Analytics – reflecting the industry’s changing skills focus.

Industry churn has also eased a little, with regrettable loss at 32.6% (versus 34% the year prior).

The proportion of women leaders has risen to 46% of all management roles held by women (up from 43%) – significantly higher than the Australian workforce average of women holding 34.5% of key management positions, as recorded by the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). Similarly, the industry’s 4% pay gap between men and women’s average annual salary is vastly better than the Australian average of 22.8%.

12% of all media agency employees are working on visas, a decline of 22% from the 2021 high of 14%.  Despite this drop, the overall five-year trend is that the proportion of the population working on visas is increasing, with 366 employees representing 9.6% of the industry in 2018.

The Census also recorded a significant decline in the number of contractors in 2022, of 31 versus 140 in 2021.

Agency employee tenure has seen a decline – which is symptomatic of the global talent shortage and people being promoted too early – with employees staying with their employer about one year less than a year ago, for an average of 2.5 years versus 3.6 years.  

Other noteworthy employee profile statistics:

• 62% of employees are female (61% in 2021)
• On average 32.1 years old (32.3 years in 2021)
• 7.0 years’ industry experience (8.2 years in 2021)

An infographic of the Census data is available on the MFA website.

Linda Wong, Director People at the MFA, said: “Overall, the latest MFA Census paints a positive picture of the industry. While we continue to experience a talent shortage with a vacancy rate of 8.5%, we were successful in attracting more talent in 2022 as demonstrated by media agency population growing to 4,685 people.

“Together our industry is continually trying to solve the talent crisis and the new Career Changers Program, launched by the MFA to attract employees from outside the media agency industry, will be instrumental in contributing to a solution. Career Changers will include an accelerated program to provide the necessary foundational knowledge required for people who have experience outside of the media agency industry and have transferable skills. Our goal is to increase the industry talent pool and swell our population, while also attracting more diverse talent.”

MFA CEO Sophie Madden added: “The Annual MFA Industry Census accounts for every single person working in an MFA member agency, and therefore provides an important and accurate snapshot of the health of media agencies. It demonstrates consistent industry growth and positive movement in key metrics, proof that agency and industry initiatives are making inroads in tackling vacancy rates, growing women in leadership roles, and attracting talent to return to the industry. We expect to see an improvement in industry churn as we move into the second year of our ‘We Are The Changers’ purpose – instilling pride in our people, and helping them feel inspired and motivated to work in our industry.”

See Also: MFA launches Career Changers program to tackle talent shortage

Top Image: Linda Wong and Sophie Madden

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