Media buyers are not exempt from agencies’ talent woes, especially when it comes to retention. Younger talent is hard to keep around when there isn’t a clear path to promotion. That can be a tough pill to swallow for agencies that spend resources training young employees, who often seem to have a better grasp of execution than strategy.

At the Digiday Media Buying Summit, buyers at agencies and brands sounded off on issues on Amazon, talent and more. Highlights below.

Amazon’s not nearly as mature as clients think
“When it comes to data, we’re not getting the complete view that we’d like to have. Overall, clients’ expectations are ahead of where the platform is.”

“The backend is clunky. Setting programs up takes a lot of time. [When it comes to Amazon,] clients have unrealistic expectations.”

“We have to run on Amazon and within Amazon and Amazon’s DSP. It’s not the same as The Trade Desk — it’s not as intuitive. It’s a challenging tool to use today. Basic things, like bulk editing, still aren’t easy.” 

Prospective staffers understand organic social, especially on Facebook, but lack deeper knowledge of platforms
“When we’re interviewing, their knowledge is heavily organic social media. Most people know the most about Facebook. But our clients use all social platforms. It’s harder to find people with knowledge of Snapchat and even Twitter.”

“Pinterest is a tough one for us. It’s really behind the times when you compare to Facebook’s Ads Manager. Finding someone who can navigate that ads manager is almost non-existent.” 

“Mid-level, we struggle with finding people who can connect the dots at an enterprise level. When it comes to attribution, most of our clients aren’t using Facebook numbers.” 

“Social folks are in such high demand that tests or demonstrations of their skillset are not something candidates will have a tolerance for.” 

Training and retention
“We’re always going to have to train our people. Even if they come in knowing today, Facebook etc. will change it tomorrow. We’ve invested really heavily in training but it’s worked.”

“You train someone, get them really adept and then they’re going to want a lot more money.” 

“The problem I see more, in speaking to millennials, is that we’re a lean organization and people tend to come in and be like, ‘I checked that box, what’s next? Where do I go from here?’ It’s not that easy. We don’t have a clear structure of moving up and there aren’t many opportunities.”  

“[With younger staffers] there’s a lack of wanting to learn, a lack of curiosity. But it goes both ways. You go to Advertising Week and the leaders up on stage who want to have surface-level conversations. If you’re looking to challenge the next generation, leaders need to challenge [themselves]. There needs to be a little more curiosity. We need to continue to challenge youth.” 

Execution versus strategy
“There’s a lack of strategy in the kids who are entering the workforce. We often confuse executional capability with strategy. They don’t understand the reasons why [we do what we do]. Digital as a whole, particularly with data, has become much more about execution and less about why are we doing these things, what client goals are, etc. I believe the frustrations, when junior staff doesn’t have a path forward, stems from being heavy execution but light strategy.”

More time spent on client education
“The cadence and the recurrence of client requests [for reports] that are repetitive have increased tenfold. Walking through a report on calls rather than clients understanding it on their own.

Our best people are answering client calls and focused on campaign setup. They don’t have as much time to be doing what we need to do to get the ROI.” 

“If you’re on the client side — I’ve been on client-side, there’s a lot of pressure to turn things around quickly — it’s a lot easier to ask an agency [to explain] reports to you. The volume of those requests has become extremely high.” 

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