Adam Churchill, Divisional Manager, Profiles Creative

A return on marketing investment is easier to prove in the digital sector, so budgets may hold up better than in other areas. The year 2009 won’t be easy, but there is a demand for freelance specialist creatives – particularly client-side

Waste not, want not’ was the phrase that my grandfather used to repeat to me as a young child, and it’s his advice that is becoming more poignant to my clients and me more than ever.


There has been waste in previous years. However, lessons have been learned and belts are being tightened with haste. The market is entering an uncertain time, with budgets being questioned and requisitioned like never before. The ‘bang for the buck’ is becoming far more explosive and, as with all explosions, the resulting heat is increasing.


As we entered this year, our clients had the frustrating task of not being able to get the digital freelances in quickly enough, or the workstations at which to place them. We would shuffle superstar freelances between briefs and deadlines, while trying to manage the increasingly alarming salary expectations of those in-demand digital designers. What next?

We could not find professional digital freelances quickly enough. We set up schemes and incentives to attract them, as the work was relentless. Those same superstars are still very much in demand, but next year rates might flatten out and efficiencies will be the new key mantra.

Flexible staffing will be essential – regardless of staff levels, the order of the day will be ‘project manage, and deliver on the brief, on time and on budget’. Using freelances will be the way to achieve this, and we expect this sector to remain strong next year.


The digital market is constantly evolving and companies are less likely to skimp on digital expenditure in 2009, because a lot of online marketing activity is very measurable, with pay-per-click and affiliate companies able to provide clear return-on-investment benefits. We will see more expenditure on viral and mobile campaigns, and companies will focus on the usability of their sites. Creating an engaging site that is easy to navigate is a smarter, more cost-effective way to lift conversion rates than creating separate campaign websites. Social networks will increasingly work to translate their members into advertising revenue. They will be looking to strike a clever balance between providing targeted advertising to users without alienating them.


For digital and online professionals, going client-side is becoming far more appealing than staying in a consultancy role, where they are currently battling decreased ‘expenditure on marketing services and campaigns being pulled at the last minute. For those with financial commitments, many of these brilliant individuals will, for the first time, consider a consumer brand and a client-side role (with full benefits package and a highly competitive base). As a brand’s knowledge base increases and fear of the unknown decreases, they are acquiring the consultancy skills in-house and e-com teams are swelling quickly.


So, while we all know that 2009 will be a tough year, the fact of the matter is that, if there was ever a discipline that tough economic conditions were made for, it is the creative digital discipline.

Having spent the past few years building up our knowledge base in this area and having a stable of light-, middle- and heavyweight digital freelance candidates, 2009 will be the year that we expect a record number of placements. Talk about a cloud with a silver lining, and that silver lining for us is the digital and online expansion that will happen in spite of the economic gloom. Next year will be tough – there is no doubt about this, but no other arena will be as interesting in the coming years.

So, bring on 2009. There might be a recession out there, but, as my grandfather said, ‘Just take a hat and you will be fine.’

Sponsored by Profiles Creative

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