Interactive Advertising Bureau
25 February 2016

Programmatic Future Trends Series: How will the skills shortage develop in 2016

In 2015, programmatic advertising was at the centre of discussions and events across the advertising industry. From Advertising Week in London and Interact in Berlin to the Festival of Creativity in Cannes, it has never been far from the headlines. With 2016 underway and a comprehensive schedule of outputs planned, we asked some of our Programmatic Trading Committee members to reflect on the challenges and achievements of 2015 and what we can expect from the year ahead. This blog is part of a Programmatic Future Trends series.

This blog includes contributions from Nick Reid, Managing Director UK at TubeMogul, Nigel Gilbert, VP Strategic Development EMEA at AppNexus, Amit Kotecha, Head of Marketing EMEA at Quantcast, and Paul Coffey, Director, Customer Solutions and Innovation, Platforms at EMEA Google. 

With programmatic becoming more mainstream, is the skills shortage likely to ease in 2016?

Nick Reid, Managing Director UK, TubeMogul

"Just as more and more inventory becomes available programmatically, there will be an increase in demand for talent to keep up with the sector's rapid growth. We anticipate that there will be a skills shortage for a long time to come as brands and agencies grapple with ever-changing needs and internal shifts. For example, now that we have programmatic TV coming on-line, who will take ownership: The existing TV buying team or the digital team? Each year (if not day) brings new, exciting technology innovations that will, in turn, need more specialised staff and training. 2016 will be no different in terms of requiring access to top talent. It is also up to the providers of the technologies to ensure that their customers have the skill sets in place to use the tech to its full potential.  We offer TubeMogul Academy training to our customers to get them 'fingers-on-keys' familiar with the platform and will always provide research and education as new elements come to the fore."

Nigel Gilbert, VP Strategic Development EMEA, AppNexus

"In June 2015, Circle Research, in association with AppNexus, WARC DDMAlliance, IAB Singapore, and IAB Australia with support from multiple IAB bodies across Europe, conducted an online survey of more than 1,200 professionals involved in advertising across three continents. Among the findings were that most agencies believe that "knowledge of targeted digital advertising will be a more useful skill to have than creativity itself”. However, the same study showed that nearly half of the ecosystem (44%) understands very little or nothing about how programmatic works. This is particularly acute among advertisers (63%), agencies (48%), and publishers (47%). Clearly the talent in the global advertising industry will only be enhanced with better education about the inner workings of programmatic, and in 2015 major agencies started to make big investments in rigorous training for their teams. Of course, there's clearly more education to be done around the industry, and the reality is we are all in a highly competitive hiring market for the right talent."

Amit Kotecha, Head of Marketing EMEA, Quantcast

"We’ve definitely noticed a rapid adoption of programmatic skills, having trained over 2,000 people globally last year through our IAB-approved Real Time Advertising academy. We’re also starting to see agencies lose the word “digital” from job titles, and digital departments disbanded. It’s good to see this move forward in our industry, because across the board more than 12m people and 1m businesses feel they are lacking in digital skills. The ad industry is being quick to amend this disparity because of an increased expectation that digital will pervade everything we do for clients and, though programmatic is slightly behind this, we’re not far off seeing a knowledge of programmatic trading becoming commonplace. Agencies and their employees are attuned to the fact that if they automate the optimisation of advertising campaigns they will deliver greater efficiency and effectiveness, as well as free up space to think more strategically and creatively for clients, which is what gives them a competitive edge."

Paul Coffey, Director, Customer Solutions and Innovation, Platforms, EMEA Google

"Realistically, it’s likely to be sometime before the problem is solved completely. We’re seeing the demand for programmatic skills increasing, but technology is evolving faster than upskilling can happen. With that in mind, it’s important to seek people possessing transferable skills than to train people from scratch. The challenge is how to leverage existing talent, for example finding those who are already competent in running programmatic search campaigns and then applying their abilities to programmatic display. Again, it comes down to the three building blocks of speed, collaboration and data.

  • Speed: We need to ensure that we train people as quickly as possible to become programmatic natives.
  • Collaboration: By seeking out transferable skills that exist in other areas, organisations should be looking to leverage these resources in sharing knowledge and upskilling others.
  • Data: Make sure that people understand the value of data and actionable insights. This is fundamental to success.

Dino Bongartz, CEO, The ADEX and Vice-Chair of the IAB Europe Programmatic Trading Committee

"We don’t think that the shortage will really ease in 2016. A lot of advertisers are trying to build up in-house technology and knowledge and are looking for people with the right skillsets, but companies are not so willing to educate or train the people because this costs time and money and there is a risk associated with them leaving for other career options."


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