Will a lack of talent slow online-ad spending? Perhaps, says Yahoo’s sales chief in Monday’s Wall Street Journal (registration required):
The lack of digital talent could slow the growth of online-ad spending, Yahoo’s chief sales officer Wenda Harris Millard warned in a recent interview. Some think the effect is already being felt. Stewart Barry, a media and internet analyst at San Francisco-based ThinkEquity Partners LLC, says marketers across industries are looking to spend 15% to 20% of their budgets on digital media, but right now are spending less than 5% of their budgets in the space.
"This is not a demand- or a supply-constrained market. It is a human-capital-constrained market," he says. "There is more demand for expertise than there is expertise."
Part of the problem, Yahoo’s Ms. Millard, is that skills required in the online- and old-media worlds are so different that few people can easily "toggle back and forth." Creative directors at an interactive ad agency need to understand how to craft banner ads, email promotions and video spots that don’t look like traditional TV commercials. Media buyers need to know all the newly popular Web sites as well as understand search functions and other new digital venues — a different role to buying space in newspapers or time on TV.
With more inevitable disruption, shrinkage and layoffs in old media channels, like newspaper and broadcast, the good news is there’s plenty of opportunity in the digital transformation. Conversely, digital media and marketing firms must avoid hiring unqualified people. Warm bodies are never a good strategy, and I remember them well in the late nineties.