Our research captures insights and forecasts from senior stakeholders in agencies on trends, challenges and opportunities within the industry.

There has been a change in levels of confidence. While 42% of agencies expect staff levels to increase this year, that’s down from 77% in 2016.

Those predicting turnover will ‘increase or strongly increase’ have dropped from 74% in 2016 to 58% in 2017. All this points to a more cautious outlook amongst agency owners.

While growth expectations and recruitment intentions remain buoyant, it's clear agencies are anticipating strong headwinds through 2017 and beyond which will likely affect growth and hiring into 2018.

Census 2017


We’re more optimistic about our own agencies future, than we are about the industry as a whole.

58% of agencies predict industry growth for 2017. Compared to 74% in 2016 and 86% in 2015, that’s quite a drop in optimism. That said 74% of agencies predict growth in their own agencies.

Trends forecast by agency leaders

Challenges idenitified by agency leaders

The company faces similar challenges to the communications industry at large namely: Increased pressure on resource costs as a result of staff seeking salary increases, shortage of talent etc. Continued high cost of pitching for business: both investment of 3rd party costs and senior agency hours. Consolidation of Irish and UK budgets into UK agency operations.

Salary pressures. Billing rates. Pitch costs. Retention of key staff.

Increased pressure on payroll costs Ongoing involvement of client procurement departments buying on price. Client side decision making.

Census 2017


We can do more. And more.

We are finding increased opportunities to develop new business lines with existing clients.

Agency Leaders on Opportunities

The role of the agency is evolving and therefore, the nature of the client-agency relationship is changing. There are opportunities for agencies to carve out roles for themselves that give them greater ‘stickiness’ with clients. These new relationships can allow agencies to build relationships with more than just the marketing departments, thereby building stronger, more resilient and long-term relationships. Although it is a worry to lose staff as talent poaching is increasing, the recruitment of new replacement staff that is an opportunity in itself as it brings in in fresh new thinking and shakes up team dynamics - this can often uncover new ideas or new ways of working. We are finding increased opportunities to develop new business lines with existing clients.

Revenue from programmatic and data analytics along with being able to provide end to end digital media and creative solutions to clients.

The opportunities are to broaden our services to include production, digital content and CX strategic advice.

Census 2017


The Big Squeeze will be an ongoing challenge.

Attracting and retaining great staff remains a challenge, made more difficult with declining agency profit, and competitive salaries offered by big tech companies.

Emerging Trends

Reducing confidence and a short term view on results. Clients seeking reduced costs and taking longer to pay.

Moving to a digital first approach, away from a TV led approach to planning. Understanding that digital is their primary channel to reach, influence and sell to consumers.

Pitches moving to a more procurement/price led process Data driving conversations and allowing media agencies to better integrate strategy and planning with buying.

Many of our clients are doing more low level creative and design work in-house. The demarcation lines between higher strategic and creative advice are now more pronounced than ever before. More targeted spend, greater metrics and analytic focus, increased digital alignment.