These are startling figures: management consultancy McKinsey and OWM (Germany’s equivalent to ISBA) have just revealed that 85% of marketing decision makers are overwhelmed by the challenge of managing fast-evolving digital channels.
It gets worse the higher up the company you go. Fifty percent of board members do not even understand the basics, according to McKinsey and OWN. There are enormous knowledge gaps, explains Uwe Becker, media director of Unilever and board director of OWM.
The problem is that while traditional media such TV, radio and OOH are well understood, little of that knowledge is transferable to new digital channels.
We estimate that advertisers currently spend about 65% of their time trying to understand, integrate and implement digital activity. Given the lack of knowledge highlighted by McKinsey, much of this time is at risk of being misdirected at best and wasted at worst.
To be fair, the digital industry makes things worse by massively over-hyping every new development, confusing even those marketers who do work hard to keep up. A lot of bullshit is published every day and there is a constant stream of articles claiming that the world has changed completely - again.
The bottom line is that this is not true. In fact, change is much slower than many people believe - but also much more fundamental. As Bill Gates said: "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10."
Marketing decision-makers need help; help to understand the long-term trends, help to understand the opportunities for their brands, help in integrating them into their marketing plans - and help to ensure they don’t get confused by the hype distributed by the technology industry.
Our solution is the MediaCom Digital University. A mix of learning experiences split between eLearning and local workshops. It’s focused on the strategic integration of digital into the marketing plan but also dives deep into the foundations that every marketing director or account lead needs. Five hours of overview modules, 15 hours of deep dives accompanied by face-to-face training, it is currently running in 25 countries.
In 2012, around 26,000 hours of training were completed by MediaCom EMEA staff and 2013 sees the global roll-out of the initiative and the roll-out to our clients.
This initiative also addresses the perennial problem that while many people in our industry know a bit about digital - both at advertisers and agencies - they would never admit to any lack of knowledge. We believe that agencies need to take the lead and ensure that 'generalists' both in-house and at our clients have the appropriate level of digital knowledge.
Once this process is completed, however, we can’t simply sit back and say job done. Digital isn’t like that. As the digital landscape continues to evolve at lightening speed such training efforts will become mandatory and regular part of our lives.
Digital requires agencies and advertisers to adopt a process of continuous learning across their entire business. If there’s one message that students at the Digital University - both at MediaCom and at our clients - should note, it’s that they will be summoned for further learning shortly.