Industry spotlight on marketing and communications
New trends in media consumption have shaken up the marketing and communications industry. Digital content is now a focal point of modern marketing and the traditional advertising agency model has also been forced to adapt.

A study from global media research company PQ Media shows content marketing is on track to become a US$313 billion industry by 2019. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows marketing and communications job ads rose by 2% year-on-year and the average advertised salary was $88,002. Meanwhile, job ads for advertising, arts and media industry grew by 3% year-on-year in January and the average advertised salary was $77,736.

Digital dominates 

The level of SEEK job ads across the marketing and communications industry has been strong relative to the past five years however this has trend been easing over the past four months. Trade marketing roles increased by 24% year-on-year while brand management roles grew by 13% and marketing communication roles were up by 5% over the same period.

David Valks, Business Manager at Become Recruitment, which specialises in advertising, digital and media recruitment, says content marketers are in strong demand.

“Digital communication has created a big shift,” he says. “I think a lot of ad agencies have led with a TV campaign and then rolled it out across digital platforms as sort of an afterthought. You'd maybe get a clip of a TV ad on Facebook page, for example. Now we’re seeing a move toward leading with the digital experience and that’s where the content marketing agencies are performing well.”

One content marketing agency with a strong focus on strategy is Red Engine SCC. The agency has experienced rapid growth since launching five years ago and earned a place on last year’s BRW Fast Starters list. It now employs around 40 people across its Sydney and Melbourne offices.

“I started the business in my living room and then built it from there,” explains founder and CEO Julian Townley. “Media is evolving at such a rapid pace and we saw the opportunity that traditional agencies weren’t keeping pace with the way people were consuming it. The gap just kept widening and we created a different model of agency that was more aligned with the modern marketer.”

Townley notes that the ‘push approach’ of traditional advertising has become less effective unless used with other media mechanisms that build a dialogue with customers. “The rate of change in social media, for example, is just mind-boggling,” he says. “If companies don’t have the right sort of agency with a deep understanding of content and its role in the broader marketing mix, then they are not getting good guidance.”

Adapting to change

Traditional advertising agencies have been forced to adapt to the changing media landscape and Valks says some have done this better than others. “A lot of the smaller players have done pretty well because they've been nimble enough to offer more integrated campaigns. A lot of the bigger agencies have struggled to adapt to a greater focus on digital because it requires changing the mentality from the top down, and that can be hard.”

One agency meeting the challenge is Clemenger Group. Formed in 1946, the agency is now made up of more than 20 companies ranging from advertising to marketing, public relations and research.

Kim Boehm, Clemenger Group Director of Talent Management and Marketing, broadly defines the business as a marketing communications company. He links its success with a strong understanding of consumer behaviour. “A lot of companies jumped into digital during the era and got a false start,” he says. “There’s a maze of different kinds of media opportunities but you’ve just got to look at where consumers are getting their information and entertainment. Watch them, study them and then make sure you’re able to provide the materials that populate those spaces.”

Attracting and retaining talent

Attracting talent to a leading agency like Clemenger rarely presents an issue, however Boehm says employee turnover is higher than they would like. “Around 30% of our workforce is made up of Millennials,” he explains. “To a large extent, our issues are characteristic of any company with a high number of Millennials because they are thinking about leaving before they even start.”

Boehm says the business is working hard on retention strategies, including mentoring programs, training and development and regular performance feedback. It is also focusing on increasing diversity across its workforce, with a particular focus on gender.

“We’re working on how we can provide a better environment to encourage women who become mothers to come back and work with us,” says Boehm. “We’ve doubled the number of weeks that we pay maternity leave and we are trying to become more gender balanced. We have a target of 40% of women in senior management positions in 2020. We’re at about 36% now so it’s not a long stretch but we measure it on a quarterly basis.”

At Red Engine SCC, Townley explains the company has a culture where talent can prosper and grow. It has thorough induction processes, development plans and encourages entrepreneurial thinking.

“In this industry space, there is not an endless pool of people who have a deep understanding of content and the role it’s playing in today’s marketing landscape,” says Townley. “It’s not about set-and-forget campaigns anymore. It’s all about optimisation and pivoting and changing, so we’ve got a very dynamic agency environment to allow for that.”