Humans are the differentiator in digital media

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Big changes are looming over the world of digital media. Third-party cookies are crumbling. Fear and uncertainty over this seismic shift can leave today’s marketers and publishers questioning where technology will pivot next. Or, should preparing for the future of digital media rely less on the tech element entirely? 

The way to make a difference today isn’t in a script or code. Every organization has the same equipment. The major differentiators in this new phase of digital marketing will be humans. 

People-focused solutions for preparing for the future will be key for success. Specifically, how humans will use the available technology to develop new solutions. Above all else, it is people who will help your business stand out in an increasingly competitive market. 

More tech requries more humans 

The concern that rapidly-evolving technology will make an increasing number of human-led positions obsolete is an exaggeration. Technology works best when paired with human oversight. In the same way that dishwashers require humans to load and run a cycle, new technologies will need human operators. 

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A publisher’s set of tools requires input from a range of different specializations, like audience development, reporting, analytics, data, search, privacy and social. These special skills required for success are vast and complex. There isn’t a technology in the world capable of accounting for all of it. 

Even the best AI systems in the world still need humans to contextualize their data, which is why human input must complement advances in technology. With that in mind, here are some questions you might consider when evaluating your workforce for that differentiation factor: 

  • Who communicates the value of your buisness exceptionally well? 
  • How are your employees preparing the organization for the future? 
  • How are your employees using technology in creative ways? 

Build a system for learning and teaching 

New technologies are going to emerge. With them, humans will adapt and develop new skill sets. But in general, we are not great at continuing to educate ourselves beyond the basics of our professions. Preparing for change gives an opportunity for your team to develop their skill sets. Consider implementing new software or training protocols to train your team to a high level on the skills that bring the greatest value to your business.

While the death of the third-party cookie — let’s call it signal deprecation — is top of mind, it’s far from the only thing the industry can throw at us. Investing in good training now can save everyone a headache later. 

Insource strong partners

The best know this already: If you can’t build specialization, then seek it out. There is a real talent crunch in advertising technology, with hundreds of unfilled jobs across companies of all sizes. In the wake of the Great Resignation, building a highly specialized workforce is more challenging than ever. 

If you cannot hire a healthy mix of strategists and tacticians for your team, then insource them. Insourcing is new territory for publishers, but advertising agencies have often insourced themselves into their best brand clients. 

Having in-house specializations, even through partners, is an extremely valuable way to diversify your revenue streams, and even keep expenses lowered, in the long run. As insourcing grows in popularity amongst publishers, interconnection will follow. Uniting disconnected departments will create better streams of communication, and ultimately improve your workflow. 

The best technology is customizable

Like a chef with a pot or pan, it takes human innovation for the best technology to reach its potential impact. Take a look at the programs you are currently using. Do they allow for innovation when necessary? How can they enhance the strengths and improve upon the weaknesses of your team members? 

Humans combine technology with their own judgment. Much like seamstresses with sewing machines or mechanics with wrenches, humans have to get their hands on the technology to create beautiful or functioning finished products. 

It’s important to make sure that you’re using programs and software that allow your rockstar team to customize the tech stack to most effectively accomplish your end goals. Now is a valuable time to evaluate your current operations, and compare and contrast the options best suited for your business’s needs. 

Moving forward in digital media

The world of digital media is moving faster than ever before. It can be tempting to focus on where technology will move next. However, by creating a strong foundation amongst your employees, across a range of disciplines, you can ensure that your business will be prepared for the future and whatever comes next.  

Erik Requidan is CEO and founder of Media Tradecraft.

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