Creativity is still at the heart of advertising. However, in today's
high-tech world, many ad agencies now look for technical and analytical skills,
"New skills [in demand] include the skills needed to write code, create
digital advertisements, develop websites, [and do] statistical analysis, and
the ability to optimize creativity, content and social media," says Shelly
Rodgers. She's associate professor of strategic communication at the Missouri
School of Journalism.
"While you won't find all of those skills in one person, those are all
skill sets now being sought by all competing agencies," says Sherry Schneider.
She's a market research and data analytics recruiting manager for a staffing
agency in Detroit.
"And this is still a candidates' market, meaning there are more opportunities
for these niche skills than there are people for them," Schneider says.
The growing role of technology in our lives is prompting advertising agencies
to create new positions. Schneider says that some key ones include social
media marketing, mobile marketing and mobile app development. Other positions
involve determining how to measure the effectiveness of social and mobile
"Advertising agencies will always need creative talent. But having technical
skills as well will put a candidate at the front of the bus in regards to
his or her chances of getting hired," says Paul Cookson. He's the founder
of an advertising agency.
The many mobile and social media tools in our lives don't just help us
connect with one another. They also help marketers make connections between
consumers and products.
"As our dependence on electronic media heightens, so will companies' ability
and desire to collect user data so they can understand who we are, what we
like, what we consume and what we will likely want to buy. So marketing and
advertising can be delivered to us where we are," says Schneider. "[For example,]
the online pop-up advertising you see [is] tailored to you based on your online
Advertising technology companies collect an enormous amount of data, says
Rodgers. Corporations, government agencies and non-profits also collect data.
All of these organizations are then confronted with the task of what to do
with all the consumer data they collect.
This is why companies of all types need professionals who understand interactive
marketing and website analytics, says Rodgers.
Advertising is all about getting noticed. And a big part of getting noticed
online is having a top ranking in the main search engines.
"Advertising agencies seek Internet technical experience such as search
engine optimization content writing and site programming because of the extreme
importance of ranking on page one of Google searches in today's business climate,"
Not every advertising agency does all this stuff in-house. But having these
skills can be the edge that gets you a job offer.
"Many ad agencies farm out the web design and SEO (search engine optimization)
portion of a client's business. But savvy ones have their own web design and
SEO team in-house that's stacked with the brightest talent," says Cookson.
Marketing schools are adjusting to this demand for technologically savvy
"All of the schools focusing on Creative and Marketing are offering the
cutting-edge technologies used by agencies today. [These include] Flash ActionScript
and web development tools," says Schneider.
"The most sought after analytical tools are SPSS, SAS, Advanced Excel and
Omniture for the analysis of everything from marketing/advertising effectiveness
to website traffic."
"Students entering marketing/advertising absolutely need to be more technologically
savvy than ever before," says Rodgers. "And not only technologically savvy,
but quantitatively savvy as well."
Quantitative research involves analyzing things that can be expressed in
terms of numbers. It's about using math to explore relationships and to find
patterns in the data.
"There are more academic demands than ever being placed on our students,"
Rodgers adds. "Besides course work, they must conduct... research for client
projects as part of their courses in strategic communication. And this requires
a strong quantitative background."
The big demand for analytical and technical expertise in advertising might
be due in part to the high salaries paid to workers in the finance and technology
industries. Top talent tends to go where the money is.
"The main reason there is a shortage of technical/quantitative skills at
advertising agencies is because there are so few individuals out there who
have these skills," says Rodgers.
"The ones who do have the skills are able to pick and choose where they
want to go and what they want to do. And they can pretty much set their own
salary because they are in high demand."
Schneider says many people with technical skills simply aren't aware of
the opportunities in marketing. Also, the salaries aren't always higher in
finance and technology, she says.
"I think it's still an effect of math- and technology-oriented students
being unaware that there is a high demand for their talent in the marketing
space," says Schneider.
"Marketing sciences often has higher salaries than I've seen in traditional
finance or technology."
Will the demand for technologically savvy workers continue to grow in the
advertising field? "Yes," says Schneider. "It will continue [to grow] with
our dependence on technology and with online shopping."
Cookson agrees that demand will continue to increase.
"Approximately seven out of 10 decisions are either done online or researched
online previous to making a purchase," says Cookson. "These numbers will continue
to grow and so will the need for people who have the technical skills to get
a website to page one of Google searches."
Rodgers sees a bright future for those considering a career that combines
technological and analytical ability with marketing skills.
"The demand for technologically savvy professionals will continue to grow,
probably a lot, in the advertising business," says Rodgers.
"When the Internet first [arrived] in the early '90s, the metrics were
pretty straightforward (e.g., a hit, a click, a visitor, a unique visitor).
Now, we've gotten a lot more sophisticated with our metrics. And the popularity
of social media is, once again, challenging existing metrics to include things
like engagement and use of the 'like' aspect in Facebook."
It certainly seems that online shopping and social media are here to stay.
"It's now just a way of life for most," notes Schneider.
More and more, this new online reality will require advertising agencies
to have technologically savvy workers on their teams so they can continue
to reach consumers.
"As our desire to [interact] electronically increases, the obvious need
for technology-focused careers increases," says Schneider. "Advertising is
about reaching consumers where they are."
And where are they? They're where you are right now -- online.
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