Why agencies must become universities of media tech and data

Why agencies must become universities of media tech and data

The digital media industry is entering an intellectual arms race. Training and development of talent is set to be the number-one challenge for our industry in the coming decade.


The media industry is facing its “worst ever crisis” when it comes to talent, according to the WFA and MediaSense’s Global Talent Report. A shocking statement, but no surprise considering the impact the Covid pandemic has had on the media industry resulting in the talent supply/demand imbalance we see today.

And it’s not a problem that will go away anytime soon.

Digital transformation has always been on the horizon, but with the Covid pandemic accelerating the pace of change, marketers are still playing a game of catch-up in an evolving digital landscape.

Nowadays marketers need to harness both strategic and technical skill sets whereas historically these used to be split into separate roles. This challenge has meant some teams have adapted quicker than others, leaving a gap and skill shortage that needs to be compensated by training and upskilling.

With data and analytics referenced as the most important capability for the next two years, followed by ecommerce and retail media, investment in training and levelling-up skills is desperately needed to successfully navigate these changes and evolutions in the industry.

Empowered talent is fundamental for success

To address the lack of talent in an increasingly competitive market, the priority for agencies needs to be investing in their biggest asset — the talent already working within their organisation.

Agencies need to position themselves as an educator — becoming a university of digital media.

For marketers, the learning never stops; there’s always new and emerging technology that’s going to impact the way they work. It’s important to foster a culture of continuous learning because of the evolving nature of the industry.

Agencies should create the right infrastructure for employees to share knowledge with each other, update best practices, add new content to the knowledge base, and promote a learning culture.

Where historically training has been synonymous with a classroom setting environment, it is important to think about learning through different lenses and provide what employees really need. Whether that means opportunities for practice, feedback, mentoring, a job aid, a template, or formal training. Empowered talent also needs an environment that encourages independent thought, transparency, and bravery — the ability to share a different point of view or recommendation internally or with clients.

Training from day one

Investment in the learning and development of employees is not a new concept at Kepler and has been running since the company was founded 10 years ago. Kepler’s learning strategy aims to ensure employees have the right training solutions and programs in place from their first day of joining the company, where they benefit from three weeks of uninterrupted learning and onboarding, and throughout their career journey at Kepler.

Offering more than 50 different courses from a constantly evolving curriculum, we offer a blended learning program with a varied course structure offering instructor-led sessions, peer-to-peer sessions, reflection opportunities, reading materials and practice activities such as working in sandbox environments on platforms.

By creating a robust internal training and onboarding program, we can address gaps in knowledge and ensure employees are well-versed in ‘the Kepler way’. The curriculum varies from measurement, data insights, tech investment, media strategy and platform partnerships to futureproof against changing marketer needs in years to come. The team structure also breaks down silos, allowing employees to shift between departments to expand their breadth of knowledge.

Courses are designed to empower employees to reach a high level of expertise, pushing them beyond functional roles into advisory and consultative positions. This means clients receive a better service, and employees can meet their personal and professional aspirations. Rather than training, Kepler see this as a way of educating their employees.

Upskilling talent for the future

The digital media industry is entering an intellectual arms race. Therefore, the training and development of talent is set to be the number one challenge for the advertising and tech industry for at least the next ten years.

For agencies, investment in employees is critical for supporting their career development: not only in building their media skills, but also in the mentoring, coaching, and leadership opportunities they will need to grow in their career.

With the lines between work and personal life more blurred than ever, employees are seeking companies that not only invest in their professional development, but also their wellbeing – providing flexibility for them to live their best life in and out of the workplace. They want to be part of a company that they can be proud of, that values and recognizes them, that provides them with a safe and inclusive environment, and that supports their mental health.

Only agencies that educate and nurture talent to a far higher level than the industry norm – in effect becoming educational institutions and centres of excellence in terms of understanding and thinking about media technology – will thrive over the coming decade.

Karinna Maldonado is director of learning and development at digital marketing services company Kepler

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