Will Tech Tools Strangle Online Ad Growth?

Will the online advertising and marketing industry be held back by a shortage of people who possess the right mix of creative and quantitative skills? That was the assessment of some practitioners at Advertising Week in New York City.

ClickZ posed that question to Laura Thieme, president of Bizresearch, a Worthington, OH, consultancy specializing in search marketing. She recognizes challenges in finding talent, but says the industry’s growing pains can be attributed to other factors — especially technology.

The biggest obstacle? “The sheer number of [software] tools that exist,” she said in a telephone interview this week. “Considering the tools that are getting updated, the acquisitions that are occurring or the new platforms getting rolled out, quite frankly, an analytic or IT [information technology] person would find it difficult to keep up with change,” she said.

To quantity the problem, Thieme and her team identified the tools used to service the firm’s top five accounts. Guess what? For a single account, they work with as many as 27 tools.

Of the 27, about seven to 10 were productivity tools such as Excel. The rest? Web site analytics, social media tracking, HTML authoring and paid search tools.

On Thieme’s wish list: tools that allow for better or easier integration of data. It’s difficult, she said, to analyze the results from a search campaign if you cannot easily compare the data collected by other tools. “You can tag your campaign. You can get it to work with LivePerson or ClickTracks, but oh gosh, that’s one more integration that we’ll put on the tech project list,” she said, providing one scenario.

On the talent front, Thieme said the firm has a rigorous hiring and testing process. “We have found you can get creative people to gravitate toward analytics,” she said. In instances where a talented creative person cannot master analytics, Thieme might still hire her but won’t put her in charge of a major campaign.

To ensure that marketing students learn about the latest in Web analytics and search, Thieme teaches a class on the topic at Ohio State University. Of the 26 students in the class, three got jobs with Bizresearch and one went to work in interactive as an intern at P&G.

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