The Soda Academy


Staff Training

Executive Leadership and Staff Don’t See Eye-to-Eye on Education Initiatives

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Staff Training

Even among those who indicated they receive staff training on emerging technology, perceptions also vary by staff level as to the types of training being offered.

POVs on Types of Training Made Available

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Talent Gaps

Key Insight:

Agency respondents still point to User Experience as the No. 1 talent gap on the client side, but the gap is shrinking. The percentage of agency respondents indicating it was a major talent gap on the client side declined 17% on a YOY relative basis.

Q. (Agencies) Where are the most significant gaps in talent on the client side with respect to digital marketing?

Q. (Clients) Where are the most significant gaps in talent in your organization with respect to digital marketing?

Talent gaps

As in 2014, agency respondents ranked User Experience as the most significant talent gap within client organizations, but the gap is shrinking. The percentage of agency respondents indicating that User Experience was a major talent gap on the client side declined 17% on a YOY relative basis. In last year’s study, we predicted this major gap would begin to close as the User Experience profession matured, as clients gained education on what UX is (and is not), and as brands began to hire UX professionals from the agency and start-up communities. Based on the results of this year’s study, it is clear that agencies believe the UX learning curve on the client side is beginning to flatten.

Agency respondents also believe that clients in the C-Suite and other Executive Management positions still face a steep learning curve when it comes to digital platforms and marketing initiatives. Technology rounded out the top 3 client-side talent gaps as identified by agency respondents this year, further reinforcing the need for client organizations to staff up and/or find agency partners to help them improve their operations focused on current and emerging technology trends.

Client Education

Agencies Step Up Education Offerings to Clients in 2015

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Talent gaps

Thought Leadership = We develop and deliver thought leadership, research and analysis as part of our planning or client service offering.
Playbooks = It is a standard practice to create “play books” and other guidelines that help our clients effectively operate the campaigns, content and platforms we create.
Only When Asked = We offer educational or training services only when clients ask for briefings on a topic, or help building a capability in-house.

In 2015, almost two-thirds of agency respondents are offering thought leadership, research and analysis to clients as part of their formal service offering, building on the client education trend that has been gaining momentum over the past three years. Agencies are also being much more proactive in this realm. The percentage of agencies who provided education only when asked plummeted 24% in relative terms vis-à-vis 2014, declining ten percentage points in absolute terms. Client education and training still constitute a tremendous opportunity for leading agencies and consultancies as brands increasingly seek to build in-house digital expertise.

Talent Recruitment and Retention

Q. How do you rate your organization on the following? Choose a rating between one and ten, with one being the lowest score.

Talent recruitment and retention

Talent recruitment and retention

Education & Advocacy

We also asked all survey respondents what they saw as a primary issue that requires education or advocacy. Here are a few highlights:


  • “Client education. An educated customer is a good customer.”
  • “Education around the process and expectations for digital products.”
  • “Brand and client education on the importance of new technology and what qualifies as smart marketing. Why safe marketing is death. Risk is the only way to break through.”
  • “Emerging technology best practices.”
  • “Lack of knowledge about new technologies and the importance of user-centered design in improving brand strategies.”

Customer Experience

  • “Good old-fashioned customer service.”
  • “Focus on customer experience, not messaging.”
  • “User experience and the research and insights around it.”
  • “Addressing the omnichannel consumer -- agencies and brands are still focused on individual channel silos as opposed to the experience of the consumer across channels.”

New Business & Procurement

  • “Legal issues in a digital landscape. Contracts and insurance. Standard terms.”
  • “Running pitches on fair terms.”
  • “Compensation models.”
  • “Spec work..still a major problem. Don't do it!”
  • “Pitching practices.”
  • “Structure and staffing for optimal relationship between brands and agencies.”
  • “Understanding and adopting new compensation models. Ability to share IP and pursue mutually beneficial risk / reward relationships. Clients (procurement especially) tend to be set up to value T&M / rate card appointments, the popularity of which is declining in the agency landscape.”


  • “Effective client/agency collaboration.”
  • “More transparency and collaboration.”

Data Science

  • “Data-driven marketing.”
  • “Digital strategy as well as metrics analysis and campaign refinement.”
  • “Establishing relevant KPIs and expectations for ROI.”


  • “Privacy issues.”
  • “Implications of new privacy legislation.”
  • “Customer privacy needs to be handled more responsibly. There is too much data being collected that do not materially affect the ability to target. I would strongly endorse an awareness effort reminding of this.”