Despite an uncertain political environment, Manchester’s digital agencies are confident about growth in the year ahead, according to a report released today by independent trade association Manchester Digital.

The report, which is based on a survey of Manchester’s digital agencies to provide insight into what is working for them, as well as the challenges they are currently facing, revealed 54% of agencies are expecting to see revenue grow by 11-50% this year. The average score given by respondents on a confidence barometer for growth was 77/100. 

In regards to the impact of Brexit, respondents outlined a degree of concern and uncertainty – 45% of respondents said they have no idea of the impact it will have and 32% predict a negative impact. When questioned on the biggest challenges they face, respondents cited finding talent (34%), winning new business (30%), and losing work to in-housing (16%).

When asked specifically if agencies are losing clients to in-housing, over 1 in 3 respondents said yes. Development (22%) was the service agencies deemed the most common function clients are taking in-house, followed by content (13%), digital marketing (11%) and paid search and social media, each at 10%.

The report also revealed that more than a quarter of Manchester agencies have struggled to retain staff (26%), with employees opting to work client-side the most common reason for staff departures (27%). Positively, just 6% of agencies have lost staff because they decided to leave Greater Manchester.

In a roundtable event to support the launch of the report, collaboration between agencies was also widely discussed, with Manchester Digital’s managing director, Katie Gallagher, commenting: “When discussing ways to tackle the problems we are currently facing, agency leaders from across the city concluded that collaboration is vital.

“Manchester’s digital landscape is incredibly diverse and open to harnessing change, making it the perfect environment for digital agencies to thrive, but change will only come if agencies are proactive in working together and embracing one another’s knowledge and expertise to achieve a common goal of driving future growth in the region.

“Given the digital skills shortage that’s currently hampering the North West, it comes as no surprise that finding, and retaining, talent is the main challenge digital agencies across Manchester are facing, and collaboration is key to solving this.

“We hope that this report will act as a useful guideline for all businesses operating within the tech and digital sectors across the North West, outlining how we can pull together as a region to collectively improve the landscape for Manchester’s agencies.”

The full report can be found here


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