Four digital media jobs for the next four years

When industries change, new job opportunities are created.  Nowhere is that more true than in digital media right now.  A lot of times we complain about the lack of adapting going on in this space and how content players and brands are slow to move, but there's a real human resource bottleneck going on.  New trends are creating needs for unique combinations of skills and knowledge, and having a real tough time finding them.  Here's a set of positions that are sure to be very lucrative going forward.

Commercial Online Video Production:  There's been tremendous growth in the amount of online video content and it's only going to continue.  About half the online population has the means to capture video and only about 11% actually uploads it anywhere.  In some way shape or from, that's all going to be monetized.  If you think that all of the TV commercial folks are going to thrive in the world of the 7 second spot, think again.  Not only that, but with better targeting and plummeting costs of producing content, more and more commercials will get made to uniquely suit each audience.  If I were to start up a creative business now, I'd start making cool video commercials tailored for the web.  Demand is sure to skyrocket and the tolerance for branded messages interrupting my video consumption will be very low, so they have to be great.

Brand and social network savvy designers are going to be king in the sponsored world of free content.  In a skinnable web, pimpin' ain't easy, especially when you've got to mix in a brand that isn't normally associated with coolness.  Demand for branded MySpace layout desginers should be at an all time high.  Some Winamp skins are a great example of branded design whose look and feel is so attractive, that people actually demand your brand.  AIM has opened up Triton to interactive and branded immersive backgrounds and YouTube is sure to have more sponsored channels coming.  It takes a certain kind of eye to manipulate the elements of a brand, retain their brand identity, but make them fit seemlessly in a visually appealling way to the irregular, non-IAB standard world of sponsored channels, skins, widgets, bling, etc.  Oh, and did I mention they can't look like an ad?  PS, if you can do this well, I might have a job for you at Oddcast.

Interaction architects.
  Digital advertising isn't flat anymore.  More and more brands are building environments that resemble web applications or casual games than they do banner ads.  That's kind of a different animal than a lot of production folks are used to, particularly when we're trying to stay social media optimized at the same time.  Where does the embed code go?  What should the user see when we're processing their video?  Does every creation have it's own unique URL?  Development of a good interactive site is sounding a lot more like you're trying to build YouTube than an ad.  I think a lot of former information architects and developers would be well served to look into working at advertising firms to help build environments that make sense to the end user.  Developing a branded application with the end user in mind, like you would try and build a useful online service, can often end up with a different result than something meant to promote a brand identity first.

Social media caretakers.  Who follows the buzz on the web about your product?  Who answers the comments on your blog and comments on the blogs of others?  Who accepts and adds friends on your brand's MySpace page?  Being in a conversational and social environment has created a whole new set of tasks.  Its easy to think that you an hire a college intern to do all of these little things, but keep in mind that these interactions are often the most visable and forward facing part of your business to end users.  Its a balance. Theres a need for someone not so senior that they won't roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty but someone experience enough to keep strategic messages in tact and also know when to run things up the flagpole to upper management.

What's consistant about all of these positions is the presense of three basic, human, non-automatable, non-outsourceable skills:

1) Communication skills
2) Creativity
3) Ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes

Know how to express yourself, be constantly generating new ideas, and realize that you aren't  representative of anyone but yourself.