Training Technology Digital Skills Gap

There’s a talent shortage in programmatic but what is anyone doing about it?

By Wayne Blodwell, chief executive

October 26, 2016 | 5 min read

The Programmatic Advisory chief executive Wayne Blodwell explains how he hopes to address the above issue with the launch of a mentorship programme.

Wayne Blodwell, TPA, chief executive, wants to address the 'programmatic skills gap' which he believes is currently stifling the industry

Wayne Blodwell, TPA, chief executive, wants to address the programmatic skills gap he believes is currently stifling the sector

It is commonly cited that expertise and talent is in short supply within digital, and this is exaggerated even further with the newer areas of the field, such as programmatic.

Recent pieces in this title have demonstrated that media agencies, posed with the 21st century KPIs of econometrics, are now scouring some of the country's leading academic institutions that have traditionally been more synonymous with the classical sciences in search of recruits that possess data literacy.

Oftentimes, this puts agencies in direct competition with industry verticals such as traditional (lab-based) sciences, or the ever-lucrative financial sector, an indication of how tough it can be to onboard the skill sets necessary for 21st century media practice.

An issue widely recognised

The reasons for doing so are simple. With programmatic tipped to account for 75% of display ad spend by the end of next year, according to eMarketer, and budgets tipped to hit £2.67bn this year alone in the UK, it is an increasingly important field for a marketer.

It is safe to say that those well-versed in the area are sure to stand out among their peers, impress clients, and boost their employers’ fortunes – an opinion regularly espoused by some of the leading names in the advertising industry.

But an L&D status quo that is clearly flawed

Often, senior executives (for commercial opportunity maximisation) and grads (operational learning) are up-skilled within these emerging areas, but there is a large volume of existing employees who may not be catered for by their existing learning and development programmes.

The problem being that the industry-norm is for such schemes to be geared towards enhancing employees in their existing fields (for example progression from a manager to a director), as opposed to moving into new (and potentially more dynamic) areas.

There are ample talented employees within their respected fields but they are often so stretched within their day-to-day roles that they do not have the time to progress themselves and there are very few out-of-hours learning programmes.

Research from The Drum published a number of weeks ago highlighted how in a data-driven age, marketers (more than ever) need advice from their agencies on key decisions to make when it comes to choosing the right tech partners for campaign execution, with almost half (44%) of all data collected by marketers deemed unusable by participants.

Transparency fury underlines issues of the industry skills gap

In light of the recent controversies around media transparency, the need to address this skills gap (both at brand and agency level) is clear. In fact, this was at the genesis of the launch of The Programmatic Adivsory.

At The Programmatic Advisory we announced four weeks ago the launch of a mentorship programme aimed at professionals with three-plus years’ experience, who had not worked within a programmatic role before. We launched this with the goal of up-skilling five people so that they can further their own careers as well as help grow, and evolve the programmatic industry, filling the talent shortage that we have.

The mentorship programme will last 12 months, and the five fortunate intakes will have tailored one-to-one sessions, as well as a monthly group session with guest speakers from across the industry.

Successful participants will also be invited to industry events and will be able to communicate with each other via a dedicated private messaging group. The programme isn’t a one-off 101 session, it’s built so that the participants are continually living and breathing programmatic – the only way to effectively learn something as comprehensive as programmatic.

The deadline to apply has been extended to Friday 28th October. To apply you simply need to send your LinkedIn Profile, 200 words answering ‘why is programmatic the future of marketing?’, alongside a recommendation from a colleague. Those interested should email:

Training Technology Digital Skills Gap

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