August 29, 2006 8:48 pm

Web ads sector lacks experienced staff

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The difficulties of hiring people who know how to create, sell and measure internet advertising are limiting the pace at which marketers can shift money from traditional media to hot web properties such as MySpace, YouTube and other video sites.

According to advertising and media industry executives, one of the biggest obstacles towards even more rapid growth in the online advertising industry – particularly online video advertising – is the lack of experienced staff.

Much like during the 1990s internet boom, there is no ready pool of experienced staff because online media uses are so new. This particularly applies to finding staff to manage the explosion in user-generated content which allows people to copy, edit, communicate and share text, audio and video with ease.

For advertisers, shifting spending from traditional media such as television to online alternatives can result in a much bigger workload, further compounding the staff crunch.

“The internet is a less linear space controlled by the consumer, and that makes advertising strategies a lot more complex than those used for television,” said James Kiernan, associate digital director at MediaVest. “There is a dearth of talent on the agency and marketing side and the online publishing side.”

The web is the fastest-growing advertising sector.

In the US, spending is expected to increase by nearly 30 per cent this year to $16bn. In the rest of the world, growth is expected to reach 35 per cent this year, raising spending to $11.6bn, according to Merrill Lynch estimates.

The amount spent on television and other advertising is much bigger – reaching $292bn in the US alone – but online spending is growing the fastest.

The proliferation of high-speed internet connections has fuelled the growth of social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo and video sites such as YouTube. Some of these have become the web’s most popular destinations in a short space of time, resulting in a rush of start-ups hoping to gain similar audience share.

The business models of many of these start-ups is based around attracting advertising. Staff shortages mean this is easier said than done.

“There is a shortage of talented people out there,” said Robin Kent, the former chief executive of Universal McCann Worldwide.

Additional reporting by Joshua Chaffin

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