RTB Seeding the Hottest Job Market Our Industry Has Seen in Years

As RTB (real time bidding or programmatic media) continues to shape and swell our ad economy and marketplace, our industry’s entry and mid-level skill set is evolving.

Inside agency holding companies, brand-side internal marketing departments, and within the modern publisher organization, there is a new call for talent: talent that is comfortable with systems and automation — geared toward analytics, and modeling. This new talent can learn its way around the tools and the math, in any given role. These people who are way more flexible than what we have always regarded as “quants” are in tremendous demand. The industry rap used to be that RTB is wiping out jobs — those core jobs that emphasize the networking of human relationships in our space. But, from where I sit, this is alarmist and untrue.

Why the Worries about Job Erosion?

Studies such as the recent Casale Media Survey will always show that advertisers and publishers like to network and form human relationships instead of programmatic ones. And, many among us will worry about anything from devalued, commoditized inventory impacting the sell and increased push for guarantees on brand safety to managing channel conflicts and eroding long-standing personal relationships with the buy side. In fact, according to the Casale survey, one in four publishers are concerned that programmatic buying will “eliminate” the “human element” in ad selling.

But, from my vantage point on the market, I can tell you that these new systems actually create jobs because they create more touch points through the mechanics of conducting business here. To illustrate, some of my most active clients, large DSP and SSP firms and others in the RTB space, employ about 1,000 people who would be former wall street-types adding little or no value otherwise. Some of these companies have doubled in headcount in the past year, and all of them – every one – have multiple open job postings today.

Make no mistake – this is where the industry is heading, with increasing percentages of inventory being designated to RTB and the proliferation of third party ad tech companies to service it. Companies on all fronts of the equation — buy side, sell side, first, second and third party — are future-proofing their organizations to participate and thrive. And, this means not only suiting up with the right talent to better address the market but also in creating room for legacy talent to step up and develop professionally in entirely new ways. That’s not something to worry about – it’s exciting.

As companies build their ranks and also look to strengthen their strategic bench, those embracing the new requisite data aptitude can lean in and lead their partners and clients, in new more data-progressive ways. Everywhere you look, not only new jobs, but also professional development opportunities abound.

In fact, following this surge, we expect to see trade organizations such as the DMA newly focus on and support the data driven media and marketing organizations in our industry. They are poised to create a well priced, more inclusive membership category — providing thought leadership, programming, benefits and networking for the data-led digital marketing and media set.

As you embrace this new reality and get excited about the fresh job market and professional development opportunities, why not take a moment to weigh in with the DMA, and give them your thoughts on what you would want out of such a membership, and what you think about this rising segment. I invite you to take the DMA survey to inform the new membership. Click here to weigh in now.

About the Author
Don Leon: Managing Director of Stephen-Bradford Search. Don brings many years of Executive Search experience preceded by a successful twenty-year media career. Don finds his industry experience and personal network integral to building Stephen-Bradford’s media practice. Don is an active and current member of 212NYC.org, The Advertising Club of New York; CIMA (Chicago Interactive Marketing Association) and AWNY. Don is also an active participant at IAB events and other interactive marketing and advertising functions and events. He has spoken on panels and at industry events including ad:tech San Francisco and New York, where he has been able to share his industry knowledge.