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Article | Beyond Data

Finding the right pay mix in UK’s tech, media and gaming sector

By Timothy Rickard | March 22, 2024

There’s a heated competition for talent in the tech, media and gaming industry, and organisations are re-assessing all forms of remuneration.
Compensation Strategy & Design|Ukupne nagrade
Beyond Data

If it’s true that facts and data don’t lie, then UK organizations in the tech, media and gaming (TMG) industry are in a heated battle for competition – particularly among talent in digital and content creation as well as management. In an examination of emerging pay trends from our 2023 UK TMG survey report, these disciplines are among the most sought.

Hot jobs that call for hot base-pay rates

It’s no coincidence that TMG jobs with higher base pay are the same as those that are in demand. The roles seeing the highest pay rates include those such as:

  • IT development
  • Tech product development
  • Data science and business intelligence
  • Digital content production and management
  • Project/program management
  • Media business affairs

For example, base salaries for AI generalists (which falls within IT development) have increased by 8.9%, and those in cloud computing engineering (also within IT development) have seen their base pay climb by 9.2% (see Figure 1).

Hot jobs across UK’s TMG sector

IT Development (AID)

IT Development (AID)

  • AI Generalist - 8.9%
  • Cloud Computing Engineering - 9.2%
  • Digital EX Development - 9.0%
Tech. Product Development (TPD)

Tech. Product Development (TPD)

  • Release Engineering - 15.7%
  • Software Generalist - 7.3%
  • Software QA & Testing - Black Box - 9%
Data Science & Business Intelligence (AEM)

Data Science & Business Intelligence (AEM)

  • Data Science Generalist - 7.3%
  • Management Data Analysis - 9.5%
Digital Content Production & Management (MTC)

Digital Content Production & Management (MTC)

  • Digital Content P&M Generalist - 9.5%
  • Digital Graphic/Visual Design - 9.0%
  • Multimedia Content Production - 16.8%
Project/Program Management (APM)

Project/Program Management (APM)

  • Agile/Scrum Master - 6.4%
  • Resource Management - 7.4%
  • Technology/Digital Product Owner - 8.9%
Media Business Affairs (MBL)

Media Business Affairs (MBL)

  • Media & Business Affairs Generalist - 6.0%
  • Media Content Licensing/Acquisition - 14.2%
Human Resources (AHR)
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - 17.4%

Figure 1. Shows median base salary increases on a constant-incumbent basis

Source: WTW 2023 Tech, Media & Gaming Survey, UK

Also worth mentioning are roles under content licensing and acquisition within media business affairs. Those roles have seen a 14.2% increase in base pay, driven by the mounting pressure to own and create content and intellectual property. Another field to watch is human resources, where diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) roles have experienced a 17.4% increase in base pay. This indicates an increasing need for DEI to be integrated across UK’s TMG organisations.

New hire premiums? Maybe

It isn’t surprising that UK’s TMG organisations tend to offer new-hire premiums to more experienced candidates, but it is noteworthy that there are nuances among levels of expertise. For example, career (P3) and specialist (P4) levels saw their 2023 premiums increase by 2% over 2022. Meanwhile, those in the expert (P5) and recognized expert (P6) levels saw their new-hire premiums reduce slightly by 2% and 5%, respectively (see Figure 2).

However, these results do not erase the fact that companies are still willing to pay premiums to attract experienced candidates if it means not hiring more junior-level individuals who need to be trained. Also, some TMG functions have raised their new-hire premiums. Leading the pack is technology product development, where new-hire premiums jumped from 8% to 13%, drive by software and hardware development disciplines (see Figure 3).

New-hire premiums

Figure 3. Top 10 functions with the highest new-hire premiums in 2023 at P3 level

Source: WTW 2023 Tech, Media & Gaming Survey, UK

Function Premium increase
Technology product development 13%
IT development 12%
Technology/systems consulting 11%
Media business affairs 11%
Advertising creative services 10%
Research 9%
Sales, marketing and business development 9%
Audit and financial/business controls 8%
Information technology 8%
External project/program management 5%

The impact of location on total guaranteed compensation

Work location does have an impact on total guaranteed compensation (TGC) across the sector, according to the results of the survey. Using national as a base, the London premium has declined slightly, dropping by 3% for Central London and 1% for Central and Outer London combined. East Anglia is noteworthy, as premiums remained consistent with the national level (see Figure 4).

Though remote work arrangements continue affecting the number of in-office days and compensation, our data found that job location still affects pay.

Annual incentives fall below target

The value of annual incentives for both professional and sales bands fell below target in 2023. In the professional band, the median value of actual incentives fell from a peak of 12.2% in 2021 and 2022 to about 10% in 2023 – closer to annual incentives granted in 2019 and 2020 (see Figure 5).

Yet, depending on career level, the picture is mixed at the 90th percentile. Actual incentives received for roles at the intermediate level (P2) have fallen below target, while career professionals (P3) and recognized experts (P6) levels have reached target. Meanwhile, actuals for specialist (P4) and recognized expert (P6) levels have exceeded target (see Figure 6). Generally, though, payouts tend to be reserved for top performers across organisations.

The same broad pattern also appears in sales band roles. Notably, incentives for the sales band reached a peak 30% in 2023, the highest in five years (see Figure 7). Regardless, this still is below target.

When looking at specific career levels, the median value of incentives fell below target for all except those in the career (S3) and expert (S5) levels. In contrast to the professional career levels, at sales band actuals far exceeded targets at the 90th percentile (see Figure 8).

Using long-term incentives to retain talent

Long-term incentives (LTIs) are common among TMG organisations, especially those with U.S. headquarters. When compared to other industries, the percentage of LTI eligibility across UK’s TMG companies tends to be the same, except for the biopharmaceutical and life sciences (BPLS) industry, where LTI eligibility is highest. However, as a percentage of base salary, LTI tends to be the highest in the TMG sector (see Figure 9).

This pattern continues to the professional band, where LTI is considered for junior levels to encourage retention as well as reduce pressure on fixed costs caused by increase base salaries each year (see Figure 10).

Industry pay trends compared to the broader market

Comparing TMG pay trends against the general industry also is worthwhile to explore.

  • Base salary: Base pay in TMG organisations tends to sit 1.7% higher than in the general industry. When evaluated in isolation, base pay in media organisations becomes more competitive at 5.1% higher than general industry (a trend that has been happening for several years).
  • Annual incentives: All industries appear to move away from general industry, with financial services and fintech being at the front of the trend. Isolating media businesses again, annual incentives sit 10.9% higher than the general industry.
  • Target total direct compensation, including LTI: This tends to sit 4.8% higher than general industry. When looking at media organisations alone, the number climbs to 9.5% higher than general industry. Also, actual payout of LTI in the TMG sector is the highest compared to other industries.

Cash is king in the TMG sector

TMG organisations are turning to variable pay and LTIs to encourage high performance, promote retention and reduce the strain of fixed costs on salary budgets. In a time of persistent inflation and economic uncertainty, cash is king in the minds of most employees. To address employee expectations while maximizing their budgets, TMG companies are leveraging other components of their total rewards package to find and keep the talent they need to move their business forward.


Senior Associate, Rewards Data Intelligence
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