Monday 18 December 2017

Digital giants 'poaching' advertising high-fliers

Tania Banotti: 'There are lots of revolving doors'
Tania Banotti: 'There are lots of revolving doors'
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

ADVERTISING and creative agencies are increasingly seeing their staff poached by digital giants such as Facebook and Twitter which have flocked to Dublin in recent years.

At the release of a new industry census yesterday, chief executives of some of the country's biggest agencies said they had found it very difficult to keep senior staff in the face of headhunting by multinational tech companies.

"We are fishing in the same pool as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter now, so there are a lot of revolving doors at the moment," said Tania Banotti, chief executive of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners (IAPI) in Ireland.

IAPI's new census, while showing employment in the industry had returned to 2007 levels, also found that about 7pc of people left their job for another within the same industry last year.

"The number of organisations looking for people with media and digital experience rocketed with the arrival of these massive digital communication firms," agreed Bill Kinlay, chief executive of advertising agency Mindshare. His company lost its managing director to Google in 2010.

"It is more convenient for these companies to source local talent than to bring in people from overseas – and Irish ad agencies, who have invested in their staff, are an obvious and attractive source of talent."

Mr Kinlay said it was very difficult for indigenous firms to compete with the salaries offered by multinationals.

"It is not a level playing field – these companies have huge budgets and are growing at a different rate than we are. This drives up salary costs across the board because ad firms have to try and compete to retain people. We are a people business – we don't sell physical goods, we sell our people and ideas – so to lose senior trained staff is a big problem."

The growing importance of digital media to advertisers is contributing to the race for staff.

"Digital skills are hugely important now," said Ms Banotti, "So advertisers are providing heavy training in this area, and hiring graduates of engineering, maths and coding courses, not necessarily just fine art or English. But so is Facebook and Twitter."

ISME said yesterday that it had long been campaigning for government subsidies to help mitigate the damage of staff poaching by multinationals.

"Poaching by multinationals is one of the main reasons why small businesses baulk at training staff," said ISME chief executive, Mark Fielding.

"Why would they invest in training if employees are then going to walk out the door into a bigger firm?"

"This is the reason we have always asked the Government to provide for subsidies for training, so that this money doesn't come directly out of the pocket of small businesses.

"Part of the money that is paid into PRSI was supposed to be channelled into funding for the upskilling of existing employees, but virtually all of it has been funnelled into programmes for the unemployed."

Irish Independent

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