How Havas trained 5,000 people in programmatic

As programmatic marketing permeates everything, many agency staff previously shielded from needing to know how a DMP works have found that they need to bone up on the basics.

To that end, Havas Media is on a mission to get 25 percent of its 20,000 employees well versed, or at least versed, in the language and skills of automated buying and selling, with the goal being to increase that in the years to come.

It’s doing it through “100 Percent Programmatic,” the agency’s name for an internal certification program that wants to get employees confident with speaking programmatic. It is doing this through online courses, hands-on projects and other tactics, through Havas University, its in-house learning platform.

The program offers employees at different levels between eight and 10 hours of courses. Each course has text, video and interviews, as well as quizzes.

There are three levels: Fundamentals, which covers programmatic language and concept; Advanced, which includes day to day applications of programmatic technology; and Elite, which is more about strategic vision.

“We took this decision a year ago,” said Celine Merle-Beral, chief HR officer at the company. There were requests from inside the company from those both on the media and creative side who increasingly found that they needed to understand programmatic to understand client issues.

There are similar issues at other agencies. For example, over the last two years, Starcom has trained thousands of people on programmatic in an effort to modernize a classic “buy media, sell media” structure that was based on channels (print, TV) instead of technology. And with lines blurring between media and creative, everyone needs to go back to school.

For each role inside Havas, there was a job catalog created that identified the skills required for each role and an expected level of understanding. Then, everyone was tested to see where they were in skill level.

According to the quizzes, employees were identified as basic, advanced or elite. For example, said Merle-Beral, there was a managing director who dealt with clients. That person may not need an “elite” level of understandin but does have to work with clients on how to manage programmatic billing. (Take a scaled down version of their quiz here.)

“So now if we only have someone good at clients but not programmatic, you give an impression of not being skilled enough,” which is what the company is trying to avoid, said Merle-Beral, who herself went through the program and is certified now at the fundamental level.

“It was really helpful,” she said. “And what we’ve learned is people aren’t really afraid of being replaced by machines, but are afraid of not being skilled enough.”

We’ll be discussing the internal issues with programmatic advertising at the Digiday Agency Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, from March 1-3. Join us.

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