Talent crisis looms in mobile advertising and marketing
While there is no shortage of engineers, it is marketing and commerce managers where mobile is struggling to find qualified talent. Simply migrating an online executive may not cut the mustard.
However, that is exactly the situation many companies looking to expand in the mobile space have faced, as there appears to be a dearth of qualified individuals. Some brands and firms have placed marketers with online expertise in strategic mobile positions, but such personnel decisions put these companies at risk of glazing over the intricacies of the medium.
?Mobile is just as vast as online, and in some ways there are added complexities,? said David Berkowitz, director of emerging media at 360i, New York. ?Mobile can be even broader and more complicated.
?If marketers are just trying to have one person who gets mobile, it will be hard to get a deep understanding of it all,? he said. ?There are still a lot of questions we?ll see in terms of where mobile fits in organizationally.
?People don?t have a strong grasp yet of exactly where the talent will come from.?
360i is a digital agency that focuses on search engine marketing, social media and mobile marketing.
Online and mobile different
Placing online specialists in mobile positions is not a long-term solution for producing effective mobile strategies.
?Mobile is an onion ? it?s so many layers, from handsets to carriers to all the applications, all the technology and all the pieces,? said Alan Rambam, founder and chief strategic officer at Mobile Behavior, New York, an OmniCom Group company. ?It?s not just digital marketing, and you need to know that.
?You see folks [working in mobile] that were on the periphery of mobile,? Mr. Rambam said. ?Maybe they worked for a carrier or worked in some mobile capacity, but didn?t really [understand everything].?
While the two mediums have much in common, the nuances of mobile demand knowledgeable and experienced marketers in the field.
Agencies and marketing firms looking to hire marketing managers for mobile campaigns need to be careful to find experienced individuals to fill important roles.
But what qualifications should hiring firms be looking for?
?If you?re looking for account executives, client services and marketing, those are the departments that really require in-depth knowledge about how the mobile space differs from all other fields,? said Shira Simmonds, president and cofounder of Ping Mobile, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
?A lot of individuals are looking to get into the digital space,? she said. ?Maybe they came from online, maybe traditional, and they?re trying to move into digital, but it?s a big change,? she said.
Not enough experience
In addition to the difficulties of converting online experts to the mobile field, companies could have difficulty finding marketing managers with the breadth and depth of knowledge to coordinate multichannel mobile campaigns.
Experts left and right insist that mobile efforts cannot simply exist in a vacuum, but instead must be part of a larger marketing ecosystem.
However, the talent in mobile tends to be one-dimensional, according to Jay Highley, president and founder of Pangea Partners, Indianapolis, IN.
?People have had experience in one area of mobile marketing or commerce, depending on what exposure they?ve had in the past,? Mr. Highley said. ?I don?t think there are a lot of people who have a broad experience base across a number of mobile marketing dimensions.?
Likewise, Mobile Behavior?s Mr. Rambam said that many brands making the push into mobile are approaching the marketing with a one-dimensional, on-again-off-again approach.
Since mobile applications are so hot right now, marketers are in a hurry to develop them.
Oftentimes, an application is all brands do to develop their mobile strategy.
?Applications get so much ink that people say, ?I want an iPhone application,?? Mr. Rambam said. ?That?s not a mobile strategy.
?Real mobile strategies are lacking right now ? the knowledge of how much you can do and what you can do,? he said. ?People are lacking the necessary understanding [of the mobile medium].
?It?s an issue.?
How to fix it
Mr. Rambam said that the supply of professionals with comprehensive knowledge of mobile strategy falls short of the demand.
Brands and agencies need to invest more capital in mobile in order to develop a corps of competent marketing managers with the knowledge set necessary to deliver integrated mobile campaigns.
Budgets need to increase.
?Budgets need to rise above simple messaging budgets,? Mr. Rambam said. ?Real integration needs to happen.
?We?re still in a situation where people are just trying it out [for the first time],? he said. ?We?re a ways out.?
Online marketers can make the transition to the mobile space.
However, they will need to gain substantial hands-on experience in mobile in order to develop strategies that reflect the field?s unique properties.
Education will also be imperative to training the leaders of tomorrow?s mobile space.
?You have to have a good foundation of mobile experience, and you have to know how it differs from other media channels,? Ping?s Ms. Simmonds said. ?Sometimes it requires a really good, in-depth training program.?
Still, there is some hope.
More time, effort and investment will all be crucial to developing the human capital necessary for the mobile medium?s growth.
As brands begin making full-throated efforts in the space, marketers are gaining valuable experience in crafting strong mobile campaigns.
?I can tell you, from working with brands and agencies, we?re training them on the ins and outs of mobile,? Ms. Simmonds said. ?Marketers from these agencies are going to be very ripe in the job market if they want to move over and work in mobile organizations.
?In the next year or two, as more brands are starting to dabble in mobile, expand their reach and enhance mobile strategies, the job market will evolve in conjunction with that,? she said.
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer, New York