BRUSSELS: Artificial intelligence, programmatic marketing and the Internet of Things are the main areas where leading global brands fear they may have insufficient skills and capabilities to deal with in the future, according to a new survey.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), the trade association, came to this conclusion after consulting a forum of its members who represent 22 multinationals, including major names such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

Conducted in partnership with Circus Street, a marketing training firm, the survey revealed that artificial intelligence is the top concern for three-quarters (73%) of respondents, who predict a serious gap in company knowledge and capability in the years to come.

Around two-thirds (62%) also question their ability to develop the necessary in-house resource to trade media programmatically, while just over half (52%) are concerned about whether they have the skills in place to manage the Internet of Things.

The client-side marketers also have concerns about whether they will be able to recruit the experts needed to handle data privacy as well as augmented reality and virtual reality.

“The skills gaps identified are critical as brands consider the new technologies that they think are most likely to have an impact on their business as well as current challenges around data and programmatic that are already exposing them to risks such as ad fraud,” the report said.

The WFA and Circus Street also found that 82% of survey respondents now regard digital integration as one of their top priorities, which ranked only fourth when the WFA last conducted a survey of this kind in 2014.

But on a positive note, the survey also revealed that 60% believe they have “world-class marketing teams” compared to just 46% three years ago.

Commenting on the findings, Rob Dreblow, the WFA’s Head of Marketing Services, said: “A changing marketing landscape is creating new challenges for the large multinationals in WFA membership and they need additional skills relating to newer disciplines, such as data analytics.

“Whether that talent is sourced internally or externally, clear marketing capabilities programmes are a vital part of managing resource and demonstrate how central teams are investing in their people.”

Sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by WARC staff