Interactive Advertising Bureau
19 September 2019

IAB Europe publishes its Human Capital in the Digital Environment 2019 Report

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In the absence of a strong digitally oriented formal education system, training needs to be focused on the next generations of talent if we wish to close the skill gap

19 September 2019, Brussels. IAB Europe, the leading European-level industry association for the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem, today announced the launch of its annual Human Capital in the Digital Environment report. Developed under the guidance of the IAB Europe Education & Training Committee, the survey findings uncovered  a series of critical areas of the digital training and human capital in the online ecosystem, ranging from the primary training needs of both employers and candidates, to the challenges faced by the two groups when filling positions in the industry.

75 percent of respondents cited the shortage of eligible candidates as the primary challenge they face when recruiting. This is reported across Europe relatively uniformly: 71 percent of employers in CEE and SE countries cite this shortage, a percentage which rises to 78 for respondents from Northern and Western Europe.

Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe remarked that “The findings of the Human Capital in the Digital Environment report once again reinforce the acute need in the industry for better and more sustained efforts in training and education. It is a call for closer cooperation and cross-support between all players to develop European programmes which help close the skill gap and ensure a thriving digital ecosystem.

Students and recent graduates are the future in more ways than one. They are the solution for the current shortage of digital talent and the key for a more efficient industry moving forward. While in the short-term there is not much that we, as an industry, can do to reshape education systems across Europe to better cater to a digitised world, we can - and must - support students by raising their awareness of the opportunities digital presents and the skills needed to capitalise on them.”

The majority of respondents cited programmatic (59 percent) and analytics (51 percent) as the most highly-desired skills by recruiters, for both candidates applying for a position, but also existing staff transitioning into a new role.  55 percent of respondents see programmatic as vital in the recruitment process, whilst 51 percent are interested in receiving training on this topic. In terms of analytics, 51 percent of responders see this as the main skill to have when seeking a job in digital advertising and marketing, whilst 46 percent would like to receive further training in it. A slight dissonance occurs when it comes to emerging technologies, with 48 percent of candidates marking this as a topic they would like to be trained in, though only 35 percent of employers have cited it as a skill they are interested in candidates possessing. Social media advertising skills are also in high-demand, according to 44 percent of HR and training experts.

Employers and candidates, the Human Capital in the Digital Environment 2019 Report shows, are aligned in terms of priorities. Candidates are more than willing to receive training and it is our mission as an industry to support them in their efforts. A wider range of programmes, covering not only fundamentals but also specialisations from within programmatic or analytics will help offset the skill gap and increase efficiency in digital advertising.

The IAB Europe Education and Training Committee will continue to support private and national initiatives that work to close the skill gap. It will step up efforts to leverage its Endorsement Programme and develop courses in concert with the other IAB Europe committees and leading experts in the market”, said Neslihan Olcay, CEO, Wavemaker Turkey, and Chair of the IAB Europe Education & Training Committee.

The findings of the report lead to the conclusion that responders have flagged for two consecutive years now: in many countries the formal education system is simply not adapted to today’s digital rigours. Future professionals in digital advertising, particularly the few who come from disciplines not directly tied to this field, find themselves in need of general training, whereas the industry relies heavily on very specialised skill sets. Students from fields such as software engineering, economics, mathematics, computer sciences, are not immediately aware of the opportunities presented by digital advertising and therefore the pool of potential candidates is lower than it could be, which is a determining factor for the shortage of talent cited in this report.

The IAB Europe Education & training Committee will continue to take steps to support the efforts of its National and Corporate members, through guidance, insight and visibility opportunities, alongside a more consistent library of training resources.

Download the full report here


About IAB Europe

IAB Europe is the European-level association for the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem. Through its membership of National IABs and media, technology and marketing companies, its mission is to lead political representation and promote industry collaboration to deliver frameworks, standards and industry programmes that enable business to thrive in the European market. For further information please visit IAB Europe.

For more information, please contact:

Alex Macarescu, IAB Europe (

Helen Mussard, IAB Europe (

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