COP out: Saving planet not among top industry concerns

green1The data and marketing industry is risking the wrath of environmentalists, after a “people-first” approach has emerged, with diversity and inclusion revealed as the number one challenge for professionals, and the talent crisis not far behind, triggered by growing concerns over the “great resignation” movement.

That is the stark conclusion of a new study carried out among senior marketing professionals across the UK who judged the DMA Awards 2021.

Interestingly, given the recent COP26 conference, as well as industry initiatives like the Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero, which is backed by ISBA, the IPA and the DMA, environmental concerns fail to get a single mention.

When asked what their core challenges are, marketers were far more concerned about diversity and inclusion (58%), retaining talent (53%) and attracting talent (49%);  all of which have been exacerbated by the effects of the Covid pandemic.

And there are also plenty of other issues besides, all of which are keeping marketers awake at night. Nearly half (48%) of data and marketing professionals cited measurement as a challenge the industry must overcome – specifically around ROI. Meanwhile, more than two-fifths (42%) are concerned about building an ethical data approach.

Other notable areas include understanding customer wants and needs (38%), recovering from Covid (35%), reinforcing customers’ trust (31%), and including new tech within processes and Brexit (both 28%).

Perhaps signalling that data protection is moving off the senior marketer’s agenda, less than a quarter (24%) of those surveyed cited adopting to data privacy regulations as a major concern.

Other apparent issues, including inhousing (20%) and internal creative processes (17%) appear to be having minimal impact.

Bizarrely, given some of the misplaced marketing activity of the past 18 months, the vast majority (85%) of professionals claim their their brands or clients have been far more compassionate and thoughtful in their marketing approaches during the pandemic and beyond.

DMA director of insight Tim Bond reckons people are what matter most and this is reflected in senior marketers’ views on the most pressing issues.

He added: “Talent has become of increasing concern to our industry, and society more widely since the pandemic began. Diversity, inclusion, talent acquisition and retention are the biggest challenges. This is also echoed by the vast number of organisations becoming more thoughtful and compassionate with their marketing approach.”

He maintains the DMA is playing a crucial role in tackling this skills issue, citing the creation of a graduate jobs recruitment board to help young talent find their first roles and also calling on the Government to support industry-led jobs and skills training programmes to address the UK’s digital skills crisis by upskilling and reskilling professionals across the country.

Looking at this year, the positive sentiment felt about the past 12 months has multiplied from 23% in 2020 to 84% today. Moreover, future expectations are even more encouraging, with 94% of businesses having a positive outlook for 2022, compared to 36% last year.

Whether Greta Thunberg will agree is another matter…

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