The report comes on the heels of the industry being ravaged by layoffs stemming from macroeconomic conditions. But as automation develops, the outlook for the advertising workforce may not be as bleak as it sounds.
The loss of 33,000 jobs over the next seven years is relatively small, said Jay Pattisall, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, especially when compared to major breakdowns such as the 2008 financial crash and the pandemic. Roughly 13,000 ad agency jobs (or 6.4% of the total agency workforce) were lost at the beginning of the pandemic, between March and July 2020.
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Automation will also be more gradual in its displacement, with the report predicting that job loss will not begin anytime in the next two years—that is, until major questions pertaining to regulation, copyright, plagiarism, ethics, bias and accuracy are answered.
The forecast throws cold water on doomsday scenarios warning that the rise of AI will completely push out the need for human workers, Pattisall said. Instead, agencies will evolve to be smaller yet more productive with employees working alongside generative AI tools.
The positions that are more likely to experience a positive, productive influence from generative AI are editors, writers and programmers. Higher-paying jobs, in particular, are expected to reap the benefits of automation without being displaced. By 2030, one-third of remaining ad agency jobs will be influenced, in some capacity, by generative AI, Pattisall said.