Marketing in 2023: Budgets, in-demand skills, and hiring trends 

In 2023 marketing departments are contending with below-inflation budget increases coupled with a growing demand for certain skills. What should marketers be aware of when it comes to hiring marketers, development and skills shortages?

2023; the year of doing more with less for marketing departments.  

While budgets are generally still rising, it’s impossible for most companies to keep up with inflation – which according to the Office for National Statistics* was running at 8.9% in March 2023. As a result, marketing teams are working hard to keep activity levels steady, doing more with less, and choosing carefully where to spend.

Despite the challenges this creates, hiring levels among our clients are holding steady, although many have paused growth hiring. Confidence is gaining momentum and a broad economic recovery is expected in late 2023 and into 2024: the Office of Budget Responsibility** expects inflation to fall to 2.9% by the end of this year and GDP to start rising again in Q3, reaching pre-pandemic levels of growth by the middle of 2024.

This is backed up by the latest IPA Bellwether report for Q1 2023, which found that UK companies are showing a growing appetite for marketing activities despite the cost pressures they are facing, and the struggling UK households they are serving.

While much of Q1’s spending focused on sales promotions as firms looked for ways to help customers, core media marketing budget growth is improving, recording its strongest quarter of overall growth in a year, with a net balance of 5.8% of marketers increasing spending in this area.
Looking ahead, there is tentative optimism in the industry. More than a third of marketers (36.6%) expect higher real-terms spending in the year ahead, while 16.9% expect cuts.

There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road, but the signs are good for 2023’s economic slump being a brief one. Marketing departments will need to choose carefully when to restart their growth hiring plans. It will be important to remain ahead of the curve and not wait until the eleventh hour to fill critical marketing roles.

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21.1% report an expansion of spend in the first quarter, while 12.9% report cuts

Marketing Insights

36.6% of marketers expect higher real-terms spending in the year ahead

Which roles are in high demand?  

As 2023 progresses we are seeing increased demand for content-based roles, as more organisations look to stand out using content in a crowded online environment. Growing numbers are spending more on more sophisticated content, whether that means videos, podcasts or graphics.

Ian Bradshaw, head of marketing at digital storage company Integral Memory, says he expects to see “a rise in video and written content to showcase products and services,” driven by “progressive brands looking to build long-term authority in their areas of expertise.” He says demand for good quality content writers is likely to increase, as well as marketers with a “good blend of product marketing fundamentals, digital marketing, and rich media skills.” This concurs with the trends we have observed at the Ashdown Group – job creation is likely to occur across the digital space, with accompanying growth in demand for data analytical skills as teams seek to show the success of their digital campaigns. This again tallies with IPA Bellwether data – within core media marketing budgets, ‘other online’ growth was strongest with a net balance of 10.5% of marketers increasing their spend in this category, versus 6.3% in Q4. Video grew 7.9%, and audio 1.7%.

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Generative AI is fast-evolving and marketing departments need to ensure they upskill staff

Marketing Insights

Plan ahead to address skills shortages in digital and data-driven roles

Generative AI

We are also seeing growth in the use of generative AI platforms, such as Chat GPT, and staff with the skills to use them. Generative AI is a fast-evolving area and marketing departments are responding quickly; marketing leaders will want to continue to be aware of developments in this space, as well as ensuring they are empowering staff to upskill as needed. While nobody knows yet where the technology could end up taking us, there is immediate potential to use it to personalise campaigns, ensuring different groups of customers receive relevant ads and content, and quickly producing slightly adapted versions of original content for specific audiences. Demand for skills using these platforms will grow quickly and companies will need to keep a close eye on developments.

Bradshaw at Integral Memory agrees a ‘watching brief’ is the best approach at the moment, and adds a note of caution. “If customers find it obvious that they are being ‘serviced’ by a ‘faceless machine’ then they can be disenfranchised. Deployment should be carefully considered and tested.”

While generative AI has a long way to go before any confident statements about its long term impact can be made, it is clearly set to make a splash – the one thing to avoid is ignoring it.

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The OBR expects inflation to fall to 2.9% by the end of this year and GDP to start rising again by mid 2024

Marketing Insights

Increase in demand and spending on sophisticated content, graphics, videos and podcasts

Ashdown build strong working relationships with the Marketing recruitment teams and business stakeholders we partner with. Combining the latest recruitment technology with an innovative approach, we deliver support, advice and marketing insights to ensure a successful marketing recruitment campaign.


*Office for National Statistics

**Office for Budget Responsibility

Our 2023 Marketing Salary Guide focuses on major roles in the marketing sector, created from data analysed from over 3,400 organisations, 21,000 registered jobs, 350,000 recently active candidates, ONS data and other external data sources. Explore industry specific salary data and salaries for individual job roles, based on experience and location.

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                Marketing trends 2023  

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