Only 5% of Irish advertising industry employees over 50

Census by IAPI finds growing confidence, rising employment and high staff churn

Advertising in Ireland is a youthful business – and it’s getting younger. The new industry census by the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) has found that 45 per cent of employees at its member agencies are aged 30 or younger, while a whopping 95 per cent are 50 or younger.

The average age of employees at creative agencies is 35, while at the media agencies that plan campaigns and buy advertising the average age is 32.

Many senior, experienced figures left the advertising industry when the recession hit the Irish sector hard near the end of the last decade and have not returned.

Optimism has returned to the business in recent years, but the proportion of over-50s has continued to drop and now stands at just 5 per cent.


Industry snapshot

Overall, employment has swelled by a third in four years. IAPI member agencies employ 1,774 people, compared to just under 1,300 in 2013, when the organisation's annual industry snapshots began.

Creative agencies employ 962 people, while media agencies employ 592. Media agencies are dominated by millennials, with some 58 per cent of employees at these companies aged 30 or younger.

The 2016 IAPI census reports a “high level of staff churn” in the sector. Some 305 people moved jobs last year, while 435 people were hired.

While there is an even split in the number of men and women employed in the industry, women make up just 18 per cent of the people who hold chief executive, managing director and managing partner level positions. This is up from 13 per cent in 2013.

The study finds that men and women tend to hold different roles in the industry. Account management is 71 per cent female, while human resources and training is 80 per cent female.

Women are much less represented among digital programmers and web designers, where 78 per cent of employees are male, and in creative roles, 70 per cent of which are held by men.

Dramatic improvement

IAPI, which is led by chief executive Tania Banotti, reported a "dramatic" improvement in confidence in the industry. In 2013, almost half of all agencies that took part in the study predicted that turnover would decrease in the industry. In 2016, no agency said they anticipated a dip in fortunes for the business as a whole, although a small number said they expected their own turnover would drop.

Some 77 per cent said their agency revenues would increase in 2016, while a similar percentage said their workforces would expand this year.

However, structural changes in the industry mean creative agencies are not participating in the upturn in the same way media agencies are. While media agency billings have risen 10 per cent, creative agency income in Ireland dropped 14 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

IAPI said this reflected trends such as a tendency for big clients to run international campaigns that are only adapted for the Irish marketplace, rather than created from scratch, resulting in more modest fees for the local creative agency. Meanwhile, media owners and media agencies are creating more content for clients.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics