In this guest post, Magnite’s Australian managing director, James Young (main photo), says there’s definitely a talent crisis, but if we flip our thinking and look more closely at technological advances, a solution could be at our fingertips…
IAB’s Industry Talent Report released late last year made for sobering reading. It revealed how job vacancy rates in the advertising industry have more than doubled last year and uncovered a dearth of junior to mid-level talent, particularly in the performance and programmatic space. On top of all that, it showed that a gender skew towards males meant that nine in ten technical and engineering roles are currently held by men across the industry.
Our industry talent predicament isn’t isolated – Australia’s general labour shortages are at a record high across the board, according to a range of sources including NAB, the Reserve Bank and even Seek. To get around these challenging conditions, forward thinking advertising and ad tech businesses are increasingly recruiting less experienced talent and making up for their lack of years on the job by investing in training and upskilling from within.
But as an industry to truly solve the talent crisis, we still have two key questions to answer. Firstly, when we find employees to train up are we skilling them for today’s jobs, or are we considering the jobs of tomorrow? Secondly, have we done a good enough job at factoring in the role technology will have on new and existing employees in the near term, either by making an increasing number of today’s roles redundant or reshaped almost beyond recognition?
It’s a discussion that was unpacked during a recent panel discussion featuring Adam Coulter of OMG, Ashton De Santis of The Trade Desk and Amy Jasen-Flynn of REA Group. While the discussion was primarily centered around SPO, the panellists found themselves delving into the topic of how to develop people for the future – especially in such a complex, ever changing industry.
For example, over the last couple of years we’ve seen that agencies aren’t just media buyers anymore. They are becoming technology businesses by building their own tech to deliver their unique outcomes. This nuanced approach has resulted in traders’ roles becoming a lot more complex and sophisticated, with individuals finding themselves wearing many hats depending on the task at hand. And of course, as job roles grow increasingly complex, so too does the task of finding the right talent to take on the challenge.
So perhaps the answer is technology.
Much has been said about automation and algorithmic decisioning having the potential to replace people, as they take up the heavy lifting for repetitive transactional tasks. While these discussions sometimes lean into how that use of technology will reduce staffing requirements in agencies, I see the increasing use of technology as an amazing opportunity for organisations to redeploy their people into new roles, while also unlocking new talent recruitment opportunities.
Agencies looking to the future should be actively exploring how to integrate data engineers and SQL developers into day-to-day operations as a start point. But freeing up people from mundane transactional tasks will also provide space for some very talented (and already employed) agency staff to focus on the more creative and innovative tasks. It will also offer them the bandwidth to provide additional value to the brands they work with, helping them make smarter buying decisions and protect their data.
It will be fascinating to look back in ten years’ time to see how our industry has tackled this employment crisis – but at least for now technology appears to be offering a strong way for us to move ahead.