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  • Lou Killeffer

Mad Men Seek Math Men

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

ANA’s Educational Foundation (AEF) Created in 1983, the AEF connects the advertising, marketing, and academic communities to promote marketing and advertising while informing and inspiring the next generation of talent. The AEF distributes content on advertising and marketing through a variety of programs on college campuses; programming that has historically helped attract top tier graduates to the business.

In 2017, the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF) published “Bridging the Talent Disconnect: Charting the Pathways to Future Growth in the Marketing and Advertising Industries”. Among the study’s key findings:

1. Digital transformation has complicated traditional marketing and advertising career paths. Digital platforms have dramatically changed the way brands communicate with consumers. And significant new marketing roles that didn’t exist before, like social media and digital analytics managers, require additional, fundamentally different “hard skills” focused on data management and advanced analytics.

2. Marketers and their ad agencies now compete directly with technology companies for the best talent. As demand for digital expertise and data analytics increases, marketers and their agencies are increasingly competing with GAFA - Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple - all of which offer generous compensation to entry level hires and use tech's more aggressive recruiting tactics to connect with and close talent faster than their traditional marketing and ad centric rivals.

3. College curricula can’t keep up with the pace of rapid change in the industry. A great deal of course work, and the vast majority of textbooks, are out of date almost as soon as they’re published. And much of what’s being taught today about marketing and communications is sadly outdated and largely unrelated to current corporate concerns and expectations; much less students’ actual experience when they enter the field.

(All of which I've tried to address first hand in a new course created at the request of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Advertising in the Age of Alexa, AI, and Algorithms or: How to Stop Worrying and Build Your Brand”. In part, the class addresses how the never-ending cascade of content on powerful platforms has reshaped how we live our lives - with profound consequences on our shopping behavior, purchase decisions, and the marketing strategies designed to engage us as consumers through “advertising”.​​ We also assess how many previously proven marketing communications methods - and entire ad-based business and service models - have been challenged, and ultimately destroyed and discarded in the process.)

The AEF’s new study is a direct response to the growing concern that marketing and advertising face a real and pressing analytics crisis. The accelerating explosion of consumer data requires companies and brands to manage the tools and technology to gather, sort, and analyze these inputs to drive decision making. The obvious disconnect is that marketers lack the analytical systems and talent to structure their data and turn it into the actionable insights that drive growth.

“Bridging the Analytics Disconnect”, with a planned publishing date of January 2020, will examine how industry and academia can collaborate to attract a richer, better prepared pipeline of analytical talent to the industry.

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