FEATURE Nabs Monitor Report

FEATURE Nabs Monitor Report

IF you are reading this, you are probably under 35. You describe your job as "ordinary" but are quite optimistic for the year ahead. Some of you are working 50 hours a week.

And the clear majority of you believe that media buyers and creatives simply do not understand each other's line of work.

That's according to the latest results from the NABS Monitor - one of the biggest surveys into what those in the media industry think about their working life.

THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT Media workers are nonplussed with their working lives, with 40% describing their jobs as "ordinary" and 30% going as far as saying they were "dispiriting".

Only 30% described their job as "exhilarating".

This will be of concern to bosses, who are keen to keep staff morale high in an industry where high staff turnover has become a critical issue.

When asked about the most positive thing that happened in the past year, the responses ranged from the downbeat ("I didn't get fired") to more positive sentiments ("I developed a great campaign for a client with a reputation for poor campaigns").

The respondents were asked whether, if they could start their career over again, would they still choose to be in the business? A surprisingly high 28% said they would not have chosen media in retrospect.

This may be a sign of the times. A recovery in the ad market may leave people feeling happier with their choice of career.

The survey also found that more than a third (34%) of employees had a pay freeze last year, which can't have helped morale.

Long hours are clearly an issue for media workers, with 63% saying they work more than 40 hours a week and 20% working more than 50 hours a week. Of course, time spent in the office can vary depending on the volume of pitches to be prepared, presentations to be written and time spent on Friendsreunited! And media life is not without its perks. Top perks identified by the respondents were a free breakfast (25%); massage (19%); four-day week (15%); gym membership (14%); and unpaid extra holidays (13%).

REDUNDANCY The survey shows that two out of every 10 respondents had been made redundant in the past year. This surprisingly high figure can be attributed to the continuation of the advertising recession, which has had dire consequences for many workers.

A male aged under 35 working for a media agency said he was left "crying in his sleep" after his redundancy, while other respondents talked about their subsequent loss of confidence and morale.

But every cloud has a silver lining. A woman working in media sales said her redundancy "made me realise what I wanted to do". Another respondent added: "I was less stressed and felt a new chapter was starting."


When it comes to asking whether media and creatives understand each other's business, the answer is a resounding "NO".

And this is a mutual feeling - the NABS Monitor included responses from both sides of the media fence.

Sixty per cent of respondents said media and creatives did not understand each other, with only 24% saying they worked in harmony.

One media agency buyer explained the unhappy relationship thus: "They work to different business models, creative agencies are from Venus, media agencies are from Mars."

A female market researcher added: "It was obvious at the recent APCT meeting that planners still think media people are gorillas with calculators."

Another media agency planner summed the feelings up nicely: "I don't know enough about creative myself and some people I've dealt with at creative agencies clearly don't understand media."

An area where all respondents were also in agreement was the declining standards of creative output in the media industry.

Fifty eight per cent said that creative output was getting worse, with only 30% saying that it was getting better.

Interestingly, the over-35s were most likely to berate falling standards while the under-35s were more likely to say standards are improving.

So, what's the problem? "It's not brave enough," said one media agency buyer. "Formulaic, dumbing down, not moving as fast as consumer knowledge," said another.

So where does the opportunity lie? "Integration and platform neutrality are leading to some great cross-media campaigns," said one buyer. "Creatives are beginning to put more thought into the way shapes and content work in specific media," added a media owner.

THE FUTURE The respondents were asked if they felt the next year would be any better. Half of those surveyed said it was "very" or "quite" likely to be better, although 46% said it was unlikely to be better or didn't know.

A female media owner employee said: "Things are bound to pick up, after a lengthy slump." An agency planner added that he expected a "global economy upturn due to the Olympics or US presidential elections filtering through to the UK".

But others were less optimistic.

"There are no industry indicators to suggest there will be an upturn," said one agency director.

Worryingly for some, one male respondent forecast: "There's going to be a correction. The good people will be fine, but the pretenders..."

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