- Retailers are staffing up on employees to run their advertising businesses.
- They’re looking for people with deep knowledge and relationships with big brands.
- Experts shared which skills people need to land these roles, now and in the future.
Even as the advertising industry braces for layoffs and drops in ad spend, retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Ulta Beauty are staffing up as they race to build ad-selling businesses. Retail ads are predicted to grow 31% to $41 billion this year.
Walmart’s advertising arm Connect, for instance, has more than 700 job listings on its career website ranging from account managers to data scientists.
“There is a talent war going on where everyone is trying to recruit and staff these positions,” said Seth Dallaire, executive VP and chief revenue officer at Walmart. “Candidly, I can’t hire fast enough.”
Jay Haines, founder of Grace Blue, an executive search firm focused on marketing and communications, said that the firm’s work with retail media has grown 50% over the past year and makes up 15% of job searches.
Experts shared the key things people need to break into retail media today and what skill will be in demand as the space matures.
A strong advertising background is more important than retail experience…for now
Kristi Argyilan, SVP of retail media at Albertsons, said she’s more interested in talent with strong advertising backgrounds over people with strong retail experience.
As more retailers get into the advertising business, Argyilan wants people who know how to use technology to help advertisers reach the right audiences.
Dominic Manna, director of advertising operations at Ulta Beauty, said that he has recently filled three positions on his team with people from adtech and marketing tech backgrounds. He looked for people with experience launching and updating advertising products and who know how to create audiences for ad targeting. People who’ve worked at consumer data platform companies are particularly attractive to retailers, he said.
“You want to either build something from scratch or take something to the next level,” he said. “You’re excited about the unknown.”
Retail media units also need people who can understand the major challenges the ad industry is facing.
Cara Pratt, SVP of Kroger Precision Media, said she wants people who understand broader growing privacy issues and the shift to cookieless advertising.
Retailers are also hiring people who already have deep ties to ad agencies and adtech companies. Walmart, for instance, is building out a team to help agencies and tech firms use Walmart’s API to buy automated ads, Dallaire said.
Kroger Precision Media wants to make inroads with the large ad agencies that control billions of ad dollars, Pratt said.
“You need to make sure that you’ve got talent that understands the choices that national brand investment teams are making,” she said.
As retail media units mature, they’ll start looking for people with retail experience
While retail media departments today are focused on advertising talent, some ad buyers want those reps to have more retail know-how.
Julie Liu, who manages commerce media at chocolatier Ghirardelli, finds it easier working with ad reps with a retail background because they better understand brand budgeting challenges. For example, a sales rep mostly familiar with advertising might pitch ad campaigns that advertisers are already buying through large shopper marketing deals with retailers.
“They don’t quite know how to navigate the buyer relationship,” Liu said.
Walmart’s Dallaire said that he expects retail media roles to be staffed by people with more diverse experience.
“The lines between trade and brand marketing are starting to blur — being able to speak the same language is really important,” he said.