EDB looks to grow local talent pool for programmatic ad space

The programmatic space is complicated and has led to issues such as overbilling and ad fraud. Most recently revelations of Japanese agency Dentsu overcharging clients Toyota, stirred up strong emotions in local marketers. The issue was also an eye opener to many as to how little the marketing fraternity really understands the space.

To safe guard the future of tomorrow, Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) partnered with Google to rally the industry together to launch Digitize - a new program which focuses on training local advertising talent in programmatic buying and programmatic tech space. Involved in the programme are brands such as Airbnb and Hotels.com. Agencies such as Dentsu Aegis Network, Omnicom Media Group, Publicis and ad-tech company Amobee have also jumped on board.

Candidates chosen for the Digitize program will be trained in Singapore as well as Sydney. They will subsequently be placed into the organisation of participating organisations for on-the-job training. Currently the program targets those who have not been out of school for more than three years. It is slated to commence next week. So far, 24 Singaporean fresh graduates and young working professionals have been selected.

During a media gathering, Joanna Flint, country director at Google Singapore explained that the program was launched in response to feedback from the industry which pointed out the difficulties in finding talent and people who can think strategically about digital marketing and ad tech.

Meanwhile, Google has also launched a suite of programmes in Singapore — including Squared Data Analytics2 and Squared Online3 — to address the gap in digital marketing talent.

"There is a talent shortage in digital and we’d like to help. The size of the gap is huge - an estimated 30,000 tech specialists are needed for the industry to meet the anticipated demand [of the field]. With Digitize, we further that effort with a focus on creating specialists in the ad tech space," Flint said.

She added that changes in consumer behavior online and the exponential growth of digital require advertisers to invest in new media buying platforms and Digitize aims to grow the pool of homegrown talent in digital to meet this need.

“Digitize is a great example of Singaporean innovation — and we’re already looking to export the programme worldwide,” Flint said.

“Digital transformation is fundamentally changing the way brands interact with consumers. There is a critical need for stellar talent in this area as it is people who make the difference. Initiatives such as Digitize are helping the industry recognise the need to nurture and educate the emerging Singaporean workforce,” Rochelle Chhaya, managing partner, Digital, Omnicom Media Group, Singapore, said.

According to EDB, the program comes amid expectations that Southeast Asia’s Internet economy will surge to US$200 billion by 2025, due to the growth of e-commerce, online media and online travel. With 3.8 million people going online, the industry is fast reaching a tipping point.

Digital advertising is expected to overtake TV advertising by 2018. In the case of Singapore, digital advertising is estimated to reach US$235.5 million by the end of the year. As such the the EDB has really started to ramp up efforts and grow talent to secure the future of the digital ad industry.

Most recently, it launched Equator by DDB to further increase its pool of digital specialists based in Singapore. Beyond enhancing the talent pool in its Singapore office, Equator will also contribute to the development and grooming of young creative technologists in Singapore. It will set up a satellite office in Temasek Polytechnic (TP), a tertiary education institution, by the end of this year.

Equator@TP seeks to tap diverse talents from the School of Informatics & IT, School of Design, School of Engineering, and School of Business to create prototype concepts for commercial and community needs.