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Guest post: A promising future for advertising talent

Motivating and inspiring, the next generation of talent will be critical for the future of the ad industry, says LinkedIn CEO.


Day two kicked off with a session on the talent shortage led by Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn. Based on the standing-room-only audience, it’s a topic on everyone’s mind.

Roslansky started the discussion by sharing insights from LinkedIn combined with the Cannes-Lions data set, about the movement in the sector over the past five years. His reporting showed that while baby boomers, millennials, and Gen X-ers have followed a similar pattern in job changes, Gen Z were by far the biggest movers during and post-pandemic. This generation, he explained, believes it’s not only OK to move around frequently, but that it is expected. Many also take side gigs along the way. Motivating and inspiring this generation is critical for the future of the industry, Roslansky urged.

Looking at the skills profile that makes up the industry’s bench strength, LinkedIn reports that there has been a 47 percent leap in the share of hard tech skills in the ad industry over five years, and when overlaying the Cannes Lions-specific data set, there’s a whopping 67 percent increase of those same tech skills in-field. By contrast, core creative skills have contracted by 17 percent overall and with the Cannes-Lions analysis added, we see a surprising 32 percent decline in those creative skills. The findings imply that the skill sets required in the ad industry are being sought out by other sectors.

Harkening back to the early days of the iPod, Roslansky reminded the audience that it took a compelling promise from a big brand for digital audio to be adopted at scale. While earlier brands had tried and failed to show the value of digital music files that could be stored on a technical device, Apple’s promise of “holding 1,000 songs in your pocket” made the offering irresistible. Tying it back to the talent issue, he urged the industry to develop promise-making opportunities to inspire elusive Gen Z talent.

Today, most of the advertising industry is focused on consumer-directed advertising. It’s where the demand has been, historically. Roslansky believes that the next generation of businesses that will deliver 10-times growth will look very different from the brand work being done today.

Fast-growing tech companies that are being formed at the intersection of cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning are emerging to create an entirely new client set. In other words, we’re seeing a surge in demand for B2B marketing and the demand for promise-making skills found in the advertising sector are critical to the growth of these new businesses.

Later discussions during the day twinkled with startup energy. From crafting ‘metaversal’ presences to unlocking new blockchain tech, the opportunities emerging in our sector are boundless. As thought leaders hit the stage to share their visions in language that was both appealing and urgently directed towards Gen Z, the industry holds a lot of promise – but in today’s volatile job market, only for those who can communicate it effectively.


Sonia Carreno is the president of The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, the only trade association dedicated to the responsible growth of the digital advertising industry in Canada. With a career spanning almost 25 years, Sonia is a true digital veteran who has deep industry experience covering virtually every angle of the digital marketing sector.

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