#DMEXCO2022: What agencies need to have on their radar for 2023

With one crisis after another, companies and agencies have faced a multitude of challenges over the past two years – and there are more to come. Read on to find out how agencies should be preparing for 2023.

DMEXCO 2022: Agency summit
Image: © DMEXCO

Agencies in ongoing crisis mode

The COVID pandemic has impacted practically every industry, including marketing and content agencies. Lockdown in the retail world, shutdowns of production facilities, the reduction in spending capacity, and fears about the future mean that customers are investing less in marketing measures and more in securing their own livelihoods.

Despite that, many agencies have proven their resilience during the crisis and adapted what they offer to meet changing customer requirements. The demand for consulting services from agencies – on the topic of digitalization, for example – is one particular area that has grown significantly over the past two years. But if the agency world was feeling hopeful about the future again at the start of 2022, this outlook was tarnished if not actually shattered by the war in Ukraine. Agencies now face further challenges that will accompany them well into the next year.

The four challenges agencies will face in 2023

The difficulties agencies have faced so far will intensify in the coming year. This makes it all the more important to learn about the core problems so that you can position yourself strongly for the future right now.

Challenge #1: Inadequate budgets due to the economic crisis

The ongoing war in Ukraine is having a massive impact on the global economy. Companies are struggling with production and delivery difficulties as well as high costs for rising raw material and energy prices. At the same time, purchasing power is declining and uncertainty about the future is growing. Consequently, many agency customers are implementing extensive cost-cutting measures for their own marketing and, as at the beginning of the COVID crisis, are being forced to cut planned advertising budgets or cancel orders. In order to keep clients, agencies are pushed to agree on less favorable offers or provide further services outside their core competencies.

Challenge #2: Less marketing, more consulting

While budgets are being cut, customers are increasingly looking for specific, customized consulting services so they can stay afloat despite having to economize in a struggling market. As well as being creative and extremely agile, agencies are also being asked to come up with future-proof solutions – potentially on a tight budget. For many agencies, this means restructuring, getting to grips with new topics, and developing the appropriate expertise in a very short time.

Challenge #3: Rising costs for agencies

Like every company, agencies also have to deal with higher expenses, for example for further training of staff in advisory roles or other services in order to be able to respond more specifically to customers’ wishes. This can be very time intensive and therefore expensive. At the same time, the required budgets cannot be substantially increased if clients are already making cutbacks. Rising energy prices also have an impact on agencies themselves: For example, higher utility costs for office space, increased prices for the required technology and materials, as well as adjustments to employee salaries are major internal challenges.

Challenge #4: Acute shortage of skilled workers, high turnover in agencies

For many years, the skills shortage has been the main challenge facing the agency world and is stunting the potential for growth.

According to a personnel market research survey conducted by Index Research in 2021, there were around 283,000 job vacancies in the market for communications and advertising agencies.

At the same time, demands on employees have risen and agencies can no longer attract qualified professionals with just a fruit basket or a ping-pong table. Instead, flexibility, work-life balance, and appropriate career opportunities are expected. There are many agencies, so employees can increasingly choose who they want to work for.

Despite the crisis, the future is still bright for agencies

Although agencies have plenty of tasks to handle, demand for digital forms of advertising is growing. E-commerce, retail media, and social media have continued to gain importance over recent years, and companies are investing in new technologies and digital agencies that have the expertise to support them. In addition, many companies are turning to agencies to strengthen their brand and implement customized advertising measures. It’s all about winning over and/or retaining target groups during the ongoing crisis. By offering additional services – for example as external consultants – agencies can provide the support to customers that leads companies through the ongoing crisis, and benefit from it themselves too. And with all of this, it is important to foster existing and new employees and ease their fear of the future. After all, agencies can only counteract the crisis if the team works together to overcome it.

Agency summit at DMEXCO 2022

“We can’t stand still and we definitely can’t go backward. […] We are in a huge development phase”, explains Esther Busch, Managing Partner of Mediaplus Group. This year’s DMEXCO brought together representatives and decision-makers from the German and international agency scene to discuss the current status of agency business and look ahead to the future of the industry. According to Stefanie Tannrath, CEO of Universal McCann GmbH, modern agencies, for example, cannot afford to simply rely on performance, but should offer a balanced blend of media and consulting.


If you missed the “What a time to have an agency!” session, no need to worry. Visit our DMEXCO community platform to watch all the highlights from DMEXCO 2022, free of charge and in video-on-demand quality. Register now and enjoy exciting sessions, masterclasses, and lectures!