Hiring in Digital? Look for an Expert in, Yes, Traditional Media

Those Who've Learned from Experience Offer a Great Grasp of Demographics, Markets and Consumers

By Published on .

When it comes to hiring, the digital-advertising industry is in dire need of a fresh start.

IAB Chairman Randy Kilgore, in a an Ad Age column, called attention to the problem that among workers in this field, "Easy money provides little room for self-improvement." Kirk McDonald, president of PubMatic, an ad tech company in Manhattan, wrote a provocative piece in The Wall Street Journal last week, telling college grads that unless they get some computer programming experience, he won't hire them.

Maybe we need to turn our focus to hiring media experts, even if they come from traditional media.

What qualifies someone as a media expert? Media experts are bred through the mistakes they've made and learned from. While this is boiled down to "experience," you can see how it is more valuable than the career history information listed on a polished resume. The importance of bringing these people on board lies in their understanding of media, be it traditional or digital.

This person probably couldn't code for Kirk or anyone else in the real-time bidding segment. But, he or she could sell in that segment, or help the marketing teams, as even the most successful companies in that segment turn over their marketing leadership every year.

What kind of strategic value can someone with traditional media experience bring to an interactive scale? Marketers and salespeople who have worked in traditional media have a unique advantage over their digital and social counterparts even if all they know how to do is to listen and therefore ask the right questions. They do their homework regarding the competitive landscape, understand ROI, and have an in-depth grasp of analytics. Their knowledge includes key demographics, the best markets, who their competitors are, and what resonates with their consumer.

Not only do traditional media experts have just as deep a knowledge of media as their social counterparts, they can bring additions to the mix. Many of the experts who grew up in the traditional media world of broadcast and print have a better understanding of brand and how brand messaging can deliver the message to the right people at the right time. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with messages, but when the message is well thought out and delivered to the right audience, it takes off and can becomes a viral legend.

Putting traditional-media experts and social media (which is essentially viral promotional marketing) in the same room can lead to successful selling. Check the themes of the past two months of Upstream Group's "Get the Drift" newsletter series. Doug Weaver, probably the most respected sales trainer in the interactive industry, keeps stressing themes like "empathy," "listening" and "simplifying." Read some of these great newsletters, and ask yourself how different digital-media selling really is when compared to traditional-media selling.

Turning focus toward the consumer should be the main goal in all advertising. It's the best way to reach the masses and will save you from being left in the dust by the constant technological advances that produce new forms of media. Brand experts from traditional media have the skills necessary to know the landscape inside out. They have much to contribute to the digital-media industry.

Erika Weinstein has been an executive recruiter for more than 16 years. She founded eTeam Search earlier this year.
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