Facing Mobile Talent Squeeze, Agencies Embrace Training

The mobile ad industry has begun putting more energy into training new creative and media planning pros, as talent shortages become more acute. The latest education initiative is from Nokia, which recently unveiled an initiative to help advertisers and agencies get up to speed on the ins and outs of handheld advertising.

Nokia discussed the Nokia Ad Lab initiative at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes this week. The program will be available to both agencies and advertisers, individually or together, and will offer training on the creation and implementation of mobile campaigns.

Training consists of work with agencies, often on premisis, “across a number of practical learnings with creative media personnel, with our guys who have been doing it for a number of years,” said Hugh Mark, marketing communications manager at Nokia.

“We’ve had a lot of brands coming to us saying they want to get involved in mobile, saying they don’t know where to start,” Mark said. “To scale the industry we need to make sure the big brands are on board, and we need to show them how best to go about advertising.”

It should be noted Nokia offers mobile marketing services and an ad network, so the company certainly has a stake in generating interest in the channel.

Nokia is not alone in seeking to train new mobile marketing talent however. A scarcity of skilled mobile workers has driven several agencies to hire pros with parallel experiences in digital, and to train them in mobile.

“For any new colleague, we have to train them,” said Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Groupe , a mobile marketing firm recently acquired by Publicis Groupe. Its core training is the same for most new employees. Special instruction is then given based on the department: sales, business development, technology, or marketing.

“We are always trying to give the deepest view of the business. It’s really important for us to train them on technical issues: what is currently working in the U.S., Europe, and Asia,” Mars said.

For some agencies hiring up in mobile, a strong background in digital may be preferable to a limited mobile-centric resume, said Maria Mandel, senior partner and executive director of the Digital Innovation group at Ogilvy.

“There are very few people that have experience in mobile, even fewer people that have experience in mobile marketing,” said Mandel. “If I had to choose between the two, I think from the agency perspective, I would pick somebody who has interactive and a strong desire to learn about mobile than someone with mobile marketing background, and train interactive.”

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