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Talent crunch looms large over digital marketing fraternity

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Talent crunch looms large over digital marketing fraternity

Being one of the youngest and fastest growing segments of advertising and marketing industry, the digital ecosystem has its own set of challenges to face. Getting the right talent is one of them. While this is a regular phenomenon that plagues every nascent industry, we tried to explore what are the main issues that the sector is facing.

Lack of apt skill-sets
Since the industry is new there is not enough infrastructure for the right kind of training. “There are very few courses and programs in market where you could go and learn the skills or upgrade your skills,” said Glen Ireland, CEO, Dentsu Digital. He added that the industry has not taken big enough steps for evolving and one of the main reasons for this crunch is the demand and supply gap. “There is a gap between the demand for the specific skills and supply. There is a shortage in terms of number of people available,” he added.

Unny Radhakrishnan, Head of Digital - South Asia, Maxus echoed the same thoughts. “The challenges are in getting the right skill sets and huge demand-supply gap is also adding to the cost,” he added.

Ireland also further added that one of the major factors for this mismatch is that the industry took off at a great pace and business has grown exponentially but the pace of growth hasn’t kept pace with the talent creation.

Rajiv Dhingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult stated otherwise. “I think the talent is more available and certainly more evolved than 4-5 years back but the challenge is that they are under scaled and over paid,” he said.

Expectations v/s reality
It is definite toss between what the agencies expect from the talent and vice versa. From the agencies’ point of view, there is huge mismatch of expectations from the candidates in terms of remuneration. “Digital guys with even 2-3 years of experience have sky high expectations in terms of designation and salary. Deep expertise is missing and more people have superficial knowledge,” said Dhingra.

He also added that the industries rapid growth means that people are looking for immediate talent solutions which are not available right now and hence everyone is overpaying for talent which is under scaled right now.

However, Radhakrishnan shares a flip side to it. He shared that agency remunerations have always been a point of contention between agency and clients. “The reality is that if agencies need to have talent ready to address marketing problems, then the talent needs to be seen (and paid) at par with marketing roles. Agency remuneration is the key challenge,” he said.

Ireland shared that as per him there was no mismatch and people are not at all being paid less. Salaries are pretty much comparable with the mainstream marketing segment, he added.

Another pertinent question here is that since digital gets the least share of marketing budgets, does that also have an effect on the talent quality? Yes to a certain extent, said Dhingra. He added that mainline advertising talent and its costs are not justified in digital.

Ireland added that the spends though are the lowest in digital they have grown a lot over the last few years. The industry itself is evolving. Two-three years back spends were not even 3 % but now it’s going upto 10-15% and sometimes even more. However, low spends in digital don’t really impact the quality of talent coming to the sector, he added.

Different opinions point out to one common issue of talent crunch. The problem does exist and is dense at the moment. Saket Vaidya, COO, Webchutney stated that there is a massive talent crunch in the digital domain and it has always been there. “As of now we at Webchutney must have some 15 positions open and a bunch of them being more than 120 days old. While I've often thought about why this is, it remains an evolving challenge for us,” he added.

The industry faces this grave challenge in terms of finding the right talent at the right price and then retaining it. Ireland points out that to meet this demand and supply gap a lot of crossover from mainline to digital is also happening. People are looking at making a transition as everyone realises the importance of digital in the current scenario and in the future. This particular trend is good for industry as well since people who already have the basic knowledge of advertising and marketing don’t take much time to adapt to the nuances of digital, stated Ireland.

Talent, as it is clear, is a key challenge for the digital advertising industry. exchange4media’s Indian Digital Media Awards also looks at recognising and awarding promising young talent in the industry. The event that will take place on June 6, 2014 will also discuss many other key issues and challenges faced by the domain.

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