Why the “human factor” will not disappear from the marketing

It is a fallacy to think that digitization only affects jobs that people think of first when it comes to automation – such as in manufacturing or in some service industries. Also job profiles and requirements in already high tech industries are changing fast. Thus, the world of digital marketing – a comparatively still very young and of course already very digital industry – is affected by automation and the increasing influence of artificial intelligence.

McKinsey’s “Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Work Force” study, 2018 on digitization, says certain skills will become more important in the workplace in the future, while others will lose their meaning and become less popular. The study looked at how many hours in 2030 human labor is likely to spend on certain activities and where there will be increases or decreases. As a result, people will spend less time on physical and manual activities, but even simple, cognitive tasks will then be largely automated and barely require human input. Higher cognitive skills (including in-depth technological know-how, but also skills such as the management and leadership of people and teams) are becoming increasingly important.


These trends can also be seen in the online marketing industry – repetitive and rather simple tasks already have less and less to be done by people. This includes, for example, the collection and analysis of data. And more than that: Even today, activities such as the purchase and sale of advertising space, the control of campaigns or the ad creation are fully or partially automated. Machine learning in particular is making rapid progress in these areas. Thus, it is foreseeable that occupations that are located here will not be available in the near future or only in a few areas. A good example of this is the reporting analysts who are responsible for manipulating data, such as cleaning up records, linking data, and the like. In all likelihood, this will soon work completely without human intervention. Even with the media planners, ad operations managers and campaign managers, probably large parts of the current activities will soon be carried out automatically.

However, this development does not mean that simply more and more jobs disappear in marketing. At the same time, new job profiles are being formed or already existing ones are changing strongly. We should therefore not regard the overall development as a threat, but rather as an opportunity – especially in digital marketing and in the media world.

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The advice is in the focus

Technology can make life easier, including working in online marketing. In this way, she is doing just those activities that tend to be simpler or at least repeatable, less creative, and more likely not personal. This is precisely where workspaces that technology can not take over come to the fore. Especially in the field of consulting and in personal contact, AI and automation will not be able to replace people in the foreseeable future, because here we speak of highly complex tasks that require social skills, a high degree of flexibility and strategic vision.

Interestingly enough, the human factor even gains in importance. Especially in the media area, this means that workers are then less media “exporters” (ie responsible for the execution of media plans, the purchase and sale of advertising space, etc.) than media consultants – this applies to all companies involved in the ecosystem and agencies. This means even closer cooperation with customers and partners, which in turn requires a high degree of social understanding, but also comprehensive know-how of the constantly evolving technology. The competent and trusting advice of the customer therefore moves even more into the center, as was previously the case. It can be concluded from this that talents will continue to be needed in future, no less than before. However, the nature of their work is changing and the whole industry is moving towards customer focus and advice. Because, in all probability, this will not be able to afford a machine or technology in the foreseeable future.

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So what exactly does the industry expect?

The automation of the digital advertising industry, and with it the increasing influence of artificial intelligence, is in full swing and changing the way we work. Nevertheless, man does not become superfluous, technology can not be thought without man. Because it is he who creates and uses them. However, we must be so honest and recognize that, of course, certain professions will disappear in the medium term, but others will emerge instead. These require different skills, as well as a higher qualification, but of course are also much more interesting and better paid than many of the traditional jobs in the industry.

Examples include occupations that are located in reporting and analytics. These will evolve into job profiles that focus more on data science and data insights. Ad Operations, Media Planning and Campaign Management generalists will also specialize and focus on specific industries, where they will then develop exactly focused expertise.

As a conclusion, if the competent, prudent and highly qualified advice of the customer is much more than now the focus of digital marketing and technology is supporting in every respect, then the automation of our industry has led to the best possible success and can to a whole new level of quality.

Jan Schmitz, Senior Director, Enterprise Account Management DACH, Nordics, Central Eastern Europe at MediaMath

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