Programmatic and Ad Ops – Salary Survey Findings

5 mins

Having spent many years recruiting Performance Activation roles, I can confidently say that ...

By Holly Simpson


Having spent many years recruiting Performance Activation roles, I can confidently say that Programmatic & Ad Ops are skillsets that are always highly in demand. We are always asked to find specialists in these areas, whether this be for roles in Media Agencies, Ad Tech businesses or even brands themselves.

Therefore, we decided to put together a salary survey 2020-2021 for those within the industry which came back with some interesting findings…

Gender Split
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My first observation is that this industry is predominantly male-heavy: 
(58% Male vs 42% Female). Interestingly, this is something we actually notice when recruiting for more senior roles within Programmatic & Ad Ops (ie. Account Director and above). However, with the increasing emphasis on diversity in CV submissions, coupled with more female candidates at the more junior level, I am confident that these percentages will soon level out.

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Secondly, we have found that 49% of those within Programmatic and Ad Ops received a bonus. This percentage is lower than this time last year when it was more around 67%. It is worth noting though that over half of the bonuses offered and given were dependent on the individual hitting their targets. Could Covid be a cause of this? It is hard to ascertain but I would imagine it would have certainly played a part here.

Overall Salary Satisfaction
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I guess this seamlessly leads us onto the third, and arguably most important point... Salary satisfaction of those within Programmatic and Ad Ops has dropped.

This time in 2020, 40% of people felt ‘satisfied’ in their role, with 14% feeling ‘very satisfied’. And now the numbers are 33% and 6% respectively. Again, this can be due to various reasons; pay freezes within businesses, salary cuts, bonus being taken away are to name a few. We would hope that this percentage increases again by 2022 as businesses look to find their feet, grow again, and once again show appreciation for those within Programmatic and Ad Ops.

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Flexible working

The immediate threat of Covid has meant that businesses were quickly forced to adapt their models to remote working. Although arguably, there would have been teething problems for certain businesses, Coronavirus has taught us that (for the most part), it is possible for employees to conduct their roles from home. Therefore, it is of little surprise that it continues to remain the most desired benefit to people within Ad Ops and Programmatic. However, what is surprising is that there was a 12% variance between those who wanted flexible working, and those who received it. Flexibility was desired by Ad Ops professionals with more people desiring unlimited annual leave and flexible benefits packages than received them.

Based on this, it would therefore be interesting to see what policies will be chosen by companies when offices open their doors once more. Will flexible working remain?

Moving jobs

The last 12 months has seen movement within the Programmatic and Ad Ops industry. Individuals are moving around within agencies, ad tech businesses and client-side. What has been noticed is that they are doing so by using a recruiter or headhunter (48%), searching through LinkedIn (24%), or reaching out to their personal network or referral (12%). Only 4% have found new opportunities by applying directly to businesses.

Of course, the reasons for leaving a company can vary and are not always black and white. However, what has been noted is that the main factors are Lack of progression opportunities (38%), new career challenge (23%) and poor work environment / cultures in their current company (22%)

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It is therefore of no surprise that Culture (78%), Salary & Bonus (71%), Progression (61%) are key factors in their job search.

Culture surpassed salary & bonus as the most important factor that Ad Ops and Programmatic professionals consider when they are thinking about a move in 2021. Culture has risen in importance from 67% in 2020 to 78% in 2021.

Therefore, when hiring the best talent within Programmatic and Ad Ops, it remains of upmost importance that businesses do what they can during the interview process to promote a supportive culture, progression, and offer flexibility wherever and however they can. This in turn will attract and retain the best talent within the Programmatic and Ad Ops industry.

Download the Salary Survey to find out more

Holly Simpson
Senior Manager

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Sphere Digital Recruitment 2024
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