I've listened to programmatic experts discuss the problem of hiring an in-house programmatic team, and the consensus often seems to be threefold.

Hire people who know PPC, poach media-agency staff, or if that fails, hire young, smart people and train them up.

But what else is there to consider, not just attracting programmatic talent, but retaining it, too?

Here are some thoughts on the issue.

Writing new and tricky job descriptions

Whether a publisher developing their own sell-side team or an advertiser hiring a buying team skilled in targeting audiences, this stuff is (fairly) new.

Many of these organisations are at a standing start and need to find employees that understand sophisticated platforms and their integration.

Working with specialist recruiters may be vital in the first instance.

Finding people with soft skills and technical nous

For programmatic sales jobs, you ideally need a mix of two personalities.

The most suitable candidates are media-sales people who are smart enough to understand programmatic disruption and are motivated by continually evolving technology.

Likewise, when hiring more tech-minded people to work in operations, you should also look for softer skills, awareness of customer needs and of the bottom line.

With programmatic advertising often challenging existing advertiser behaviours, new hires need to have this combination of soft skills and technical nous in order to educate customers.

On the buy-side, too, whether agency or in-house, candidates must understand about getting the most bang for buck, but will also be tasked with defining and documenting best practice, collaborating with other teams and educating internally.

What does this look like in the real world?

  • Great communication: The ability to convey fairly abstract concepts and tell the story of programmatic both to stakeholders and the wider industry.
  • Strategic thinking: Long term understanding of customer objectives within the programmatic world but also as a part of wider marketing and advertising.
  • Media planning experience: Knowledge of ad formats, viewability, inventory, data management platforms etc.
  • Measurement and optimisation experience: Tracking, troubleshooting and reporting.

Investing time and money in staff

Even when you find the right person for your team, the intricacies of different platforms means it takes time before they bed in.

The danger for companies is that they get into a cycle of recruiting, training and then losing people from programmatic roles.

Staff retention is important for any company trying to innovate with media. Recent emphasis on the role company culture plays in digital transformation has meant many organisations have invested in this area.

From the use of personal devices, to remote working, more money for training and office perks, as well as finding the right digital leaders that can both inspire and listen to the workforce.

Short-termism is the enemy here.

Doing a good PR job for programmatic

One of the problems remains an issue of PR.

Media has no problem in attracting intelligent young people away from other industries or studies, but to what extent is programmatic advertising a draw?

Agencies and the advertising industry as a whole perhaps need to paint a better picture of this new technology, one that hasn't yet fulfilled its potential but may shape the future of advertising and creative.

For more information on this topic, see:

Ben Davis

Published 15 November, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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