How SA’s PPC Industry Growth Is Changing the Way Agencies Select Employees

In order to set the scene . . .   For advertisers, the spread of the internet and the rising affluence of emerging-market consumers will propel business, which will grow by 4.9%. Out of total revenue of $515bn, internet advertising will expand by 14% in 2014, to $133bn, according to PwC, a consultancy   If this growth rate continues up to 2024, the digital industry will be worth just under $500bn worldwide in 2014 dollars.

To put this in perspective, South Africa’s GDP is currently $384bn a year. Global advertising spend on the internet is likely to exceed the value of everything this country produces within the decade. This advertising will drive online commerce of a value many orders of magnitude over $500 bn. Online sales account for about 1% of retail sales in South Africa, but the growth rate is between 20% and 30% year on year according to PwC. US e-Commerce sales as percent of retail sales is at a current level of 6.20% for Q1 2014, up 6.00% from the previous quarter. This represents a quarterly annualized growth rate of 13.33%, compared to a long-term average annualized growth rate of 17.15%. Consider the following prediction from an article by Helen Leggatt of By 2016, 23% of retail sales in the UK will take place online. ”The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity: The Internet Economy in the G-20”. The study, part of the Boston Consulting Group’s ’Connected World’ series of reports, found that retail sales online will almost double from 2010’s $102 billion turnover (13.5% of UK retail sales) to reach $230 billion in 2016. The point of all this comparative data is to show, at the risk of statistical pleonasm, that we work in one of the most exciting and dynamic industries on earth, mediated by the greatest technological Zeitgeist since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

As PPC spend and revenue becomes more significant to the profitability and sustainability of any South African digital marketing agency’s (DMA) clients, these clients will ask for more granular and accurate quantitative insights from their agency, given the measurability of spend efficacy immanent to PPC. This already applies in the UK and other more mature markets where end-metric and ROI targets are de rigueur. This dynamic will increasingly influence what employees ask for in terms of entry level qualifications. Many PPC jobs in the UK ask for candidates with university degrees in maths, science, statistics, engineering or economics. They don’t really need marketing students. Many SA clients don’t specify CPA, or other end-metric and post-conversion targets at present. They will start doing so across the board within two-three years, and this will change what they want from a DMA. This need for analytical rigour will mean that any campaign manager worth his/her salt will have to develop a high degree of competency in interpreting and manipulating numerical data. Pure analysts in the industry will have to develop expertise in the emerging field of ‘data science’ which will trace advanced skills in programming, predictive statistics and applied mathematics. The truth is that client liaison skills can easily be brought into an agency but if you want to be a real PPC hotshot in the future, you will have to have a lot of nerd in you. And you will have to be tolerant of overtime. As the DoubleClick for Search user interface never stops reminding us, “Your ads never sleep.” If you believe that you have enough nerd in you then we welcome the submission of your C.V here.

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