More than half of marketing agencies recorded growth last year and over three-fifths (62%) expect to increase in size again in 2023 but over half (52%) still feel under-resourced – especially when it comes to tech support – while workloads have also increased for 70% of businesses.
So says a new study by Screendragon, “The State of Creative Operations 2023”, which quizzed more than 100 creative leaders from many of the world’s top agencies, including DDB, Leo Burnett, Vye, and TBWA.
One of the most common sources of support for agencies is the gig economy, with three-fifths (58%) of agencies turning to freelancers more during the past year.
But it was not just workload management that forced agencies to employ more freelancers this year. Of those surveyed, 42% turned to contractors to fill skills gaps within their team. After workloads and skills shortages, the next most common reason for embracing the gig economy is to take advantage of cost flexibility and savings.
When it comes to flexible working, it seems the larger agency groups are well out of step with what their staff expect, as only 16% of agency workers want to go back to the office full time.
The majority prefer a hybrid working arrangement where they can choose whether to commute or work from home.
Outside the major groups, more than 60% of agencies have a hybrid working plan in place which has contributed to a community that is largely happy with their work environment. Nearly three-quarters of agency respondents in Screendragon’s survey are working in their location of choice – whether that is remote, hybrid, or in the office.
However, many agencies are lagging when it comes to modern creative processes and technologies, with nearly half, (44%) still using email to manage briefs. Some are even more antiquated, 16% still communicate briefs verbally and do not transmit any record of their plan.
The briefing process is not the only agency activity that is somewhat old hat; half of agency respondents are using Excel to manage and track estimates and costs.
The report also shows that tech continues to create internal issues. Most agencies (73%) use project management software but less than half are employing solutions for resourcing (34%); slightly more (47%) are using time tracking solutions.
Even so, online proofing systems (27%) and creative automation (13%) are mostly unused by agencies yet 91% are currently looking to purchase new technology to support creative work.
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