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Why agencies continue to invest in training and education even as a potential recession adds financial pressure

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Why agencies continue to invest in training and education even as a potential recession adds financial pressure

More agencies are providing in-house education to level up their employees in an increasingly competitive hybrid workplace.

These aren’t your typical four-year colleges culminating in a degree or graduations: think free hybrid learning and career development tailored to today’s marketers and media professionals. Organizations from WPP’s media arm GroupM to global marketing firm Kepler Group have established their own learning and development schools aimed at helping employees pursue advanced careers and keep pace in a fast-moving industry. More importantly, agencies that invest in learning may have a leg up when it comes to recruiting and retention — and it’s a spend they say they plan to keep even as the entire marketing landscape descends into a potential recession.

“There are evolving needs of the workforce to attract and retain talent, and agencies are looking to answer that in a few different ways,” Sean McGlade, svp of talent and learning solutions at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), told Digiday. “[They] have to be more receptive to getting people up from the ground and … give people a sense of belonging right away.”

In the coming months, 4A’s will continue rolling out its so-called agency accelerator program, designed to support agencies that may have gaps in their resources and training programs. It offers four certifications for onboarding as well as foundational training for new hires and newcomers in the first three years of their careers.

But the wealth of online training materials alone can be overwhelming, from business schools to online providers like Udemy or Coursera, which means the agencies are challenged to find content that’s relevant, current and high quality. Agencies could actually help employees cut down on time searching for resources by creating their own content, McGlade added said.

GroupM University opened its school this past March with a $15 million commitment over three years to provide training, career coaching and personal enrichment classes for employees. Launch Pad participants complete a 12-week curriculum, offered both online and in-person, focused on topics in media foundations, building networks and business communication. The first cohort in the U.S. began this June and marks the first year of the program launched in North America.

Brian Dashew, named GroupM’s head of learning and development for North America in July, designed the curriculum. Coming from Rutgers University and Columbia University, Dashew sees continuous learning as personal to that employee’s career experience. GroupM tailors programming to a person’s profile to recommend content at different stages of their career.

“This is more than training,” Dashew said. “The media industry is not a space in which anybody can ever really claim to be done learning.”

GroupM University’s program may eventually get linked with internal credentialing at the agency. The goal of their training is to help people understand their career paths within GroupM and provide the tools and resources for them to grow in their roles. Career development and goal-setting are built into the various learning pathways in order to support the individual’s development.

“We are imagining new ways of offering internal credentials that make mobility across the organization more viable,” Dashew said.

Similarly, Kepler Group’s Kepler University offers a mix of 50 in-person, live and on-demand courses designed for marketing experts to advance into advisory and consulting roles. Kepler has offered internal learning and development since its founding in 2012, according to the company, and it has continued updating the content with the help of subject matter experts within the organization.

“We haven’t let it go stale,” said Karinna Maldonado, director of learning and development for Kepler. “Career development is a hot topic.”

Kepler’s courses cover a range of subjects, from brand safety to campaign analytics, and follow several different learning paths with a course structure, not unlike universities. But unlike a college class, lectures are not just instructors presenting to a room of students — students are guided by peer-to-peer learning, self-reflection time after class, and other practice exercises, such as working in sandbox environments on platforms.

Maldonado emphasized that organizations have to make time for learning. Kepler newcomers, for example, get three uninterrupted weeks for onboarding and learning. And with Kepler’s 2020 acquisition of Infectious Media, based in London and Singapore, the company has had to think globally about expanding its learning tools.

“It impacted how we think about our employees,” Maldonado said. “We localize content where it makes sense … such as [General Data Protection Regulation] for advertising.”

While Kepler did not provide an investment figure (it estimated a cost “in the millions”) for its university programs, developing people comes at a cost to organizations. With a potential recession looming, 4A’s’ McGlade pointed out training is often “the first casualty” in budget cuts. But asked whether Kepler foresees any cuts in this department, Maldonado said only that they will “keep investing” in employees.

GroupM echoed that it has “no intention to scale back” any committed spending on learning. “There is absolutely a high cost associated with developing talent, but the reality is that there is an even higher cost associated with not developing talent,” Dashew said.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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