SINGAPORE: Just one third of marketers in the Asia-Pacific region feel completely confident in delivering digital marketing activity but four in five are very motivated to learn more, according to a new study.

The Knowledge Engineers, a digital marketing training business, surveyed more than 1,000 agency, media and client-side executives in Asia-Pacific as part of a global report, Digital Knowledge Survey 2014, into marketers' confidence levels across the digital spectrum.

It found that Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong were the countries in the region with the highest confidence levels, but it also highlighted a lack of client understanding and a shortage of talent as major problems to be tackled.

A digital and integrated strategy was widely regarded as the most important skill for the future of an organisation, cited by 35%, far ahead of other options such as content strategy (9%) and measurement/analytics (9%).

However, just under half of respondents in the region (47%) felt "OK" about digital and said they needed more guidance, while 20% were "not very confident" at all.

"Many marketers have not had experience working directly on projects which focus deeply on these areas, so may often feel in the dark about how exactly to go about planning and implementing work in these channels," Josie Brown, director of digital with JWT APAC, explained to Campaign Asia-Pacific.

That lack of direct experience was compounded by a lack of training, which in turn was partly dictated by skewed media spending, as digital typically accounted for only 1% or 2%. "With budgets not equating to time spent on digital media, there has been a lack of investment in training and a lack of time for strategic planning," observed Keith Timmi, chairman of digital marketing agency VML Qais.

Nor was it always possible to simply buy in the necessary skills, as agencies were up against the attractions of employers like Google and Facebook, which, Timmi noted, offered "staff perks such as free food from Michelin-starred chefs, concierge services and 20% time for personal projects".

Marketers felt more confident in some areas, particularly digital strategy (42%) and display advertising (40%), while e-CRM (20%) and search (27%) emerged as the weakest.

Some 37% also cited a lack of client understanding as a barrier to digital excellence, compared to a figure of 32% globally.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff