Havas Group, the parent company of agency Havas Media and performance marketing company Ecselis, has announced that over a quarter of its 20,000 employees worldwide have been certified “100% programmatic”.

The global communications and marketing company runs a training programme through Havas University, offering employees extensive courses on the workings of automated ad buying – including fundamentals, day-to-day applications and programmatic leadership and strategy.

The announcement comes on the heels of a survey by PerformanceIN last year which found that a ‘programmatic skills shortage’ was backed by 8% of respondents to be a hindrance to programmatic’s development across the industry.

According to Havas, 96% of the training programme’s participants said they felt “more confident” discussing programmatic, which should also pay dividends in gaining client trust to relinquish budgets; the same survey found ‘lack of advertiser understanding’ to be a concern among 30% of respondents.

“Programmatic is the new reality – and whatever our role is, we must understand audiences, addressable content and personalised messages,” commented Alfonso Rodes Vila, deputy CEO of Havas Group, chairman of Havas Group Spain, and CEO of Havas Media Group.

‘Uphill struggle’

Wayne Blodwell, founder of The Programmatic Advisory, has commented in the past that agencies often face an “uphill struggle” in fostering the trust of their clients due to a scattered understanding of the buying method.

Havas Group’s announcement can be considered somewhat of an industry advancement, setting a precedent for other companies to tackle the programmatic education gap under their own roofs.

Speaking on the need for companies to comprehensively improve understanding, Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group, said; “It reflects a total change in our industry and has vast implications for creativity as well.

“We have always used audience data and personalised messaging to drive creative solutions, and now we can do that through automation to achieve scale. It’s just as important for our creative teams to understand this as our media teams.”