Ad agencies struggle to grow digitally savvy talent pool.
Creativity Marketing Transformation

[Report] Developing Digital Skills a Struggle When Staffing Agencies

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Marketing and advertising agencies are struggling to develop digitally savvy employees, according to a recent report from the Online Marketing Institute, ClickZ, and Kelly Services titled “The State of Agency Digital Marketing Talent.”

The report states that ad agencies universally acknowledge the importance of digital skills when they’re staffing agencies. Among their employees, however, they cite serious digital skill deficits, and they have no mechanisms in place to get their employees up to speed.

The lack of training opportunities within the agencies “has and will continue to erode the confidence of clients,” according to the report. If such shortcomings cannot be remedied, clients will be forced to hire capable staff themselves, jeopardizing account retention.

The report finds:

  • Fifty-four percent of agencies say that while their teams have some digital marketing strengths, they find mostly mediocrity or weakness in other areas.
  • Seventy-four percent of agencies say mobile marketing skills are very important, yet only 31 percent believe their team is stronger or much stronger than the competition when it comes to mobile.
  • Less than 9 percent of agencies have a way to test or self-assess digital skills.

Convergence of Advertising, Technology, and Science

The desire for more digitally skilled talent when it comes to staffing agencies echoes the changing nature of advertising. Marketing and advertising, once the realm of creatives, have now taken on a scientific bent.

“Although we are working in the advertising industry, a large part of what we do requires the skills usually associated with science and engineering—problem solving, data analytics, intelligence, statistics and algorithms,” said Natalie Mazer, AudienceScience’s vice president of strategy and development, on the Guardian’s Media Network blog.

She added that none of these areas of expertise have been associated with advertising in the past.

To boost employees’ skills, agencies need to invest in scalable, sustainable, and ongoing education, the report states.

Bridging the Digital Skills Gap

The report suggests agencies improve their onboarding programs to help bring new employees up to speed. Fewer than half of the agencies surveyed offer such programs, according to the report. Skills-acquisition assessment could shed light on the proficiency of both individuals and teams.

When it comes to training employees, the report notes that the majority of agencies prefer online training versus in-person training. However, few agencies are investing in such programs.

If not addressed, agencies with a dearth of digital talent will face a competitive disadvantage. Agencies that invest in their existing talent pool can shore up the key skills needed in today’s marketing and advertising environment.

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