This article originally appeared in iMedia on February 16th, 2017.
Chief marketing officers (CMOs) know their roles aren’t what their bosses were 10 years ago, or even five. The role definition is blurring, and many heads of marketing, historically tasked with growing revenue, now also function as chief margin officers, chief marketing technology officers, chief innovation officers and chief customer officers. Add to this the increase of online and offline marketing channels that has resulted in an increased complexity of campaigns brand marketers run. To counteract the complexity, they rely more intensely on fewer agencies (as just exemplified by McDonald’s and We Are Unlimited). And of course, shareholders continue to expect improving quarterly returns, though marketers are mostly operating with flat budgets.
With these broader expectations, complex communication streams, less outside help and holding the line on spending, it’s no wonder CMOs are changing their behavior. I see them adapting by asserting more control over the functions within their purview, for instance: deepening their measurement focus beyond ad performance to asset performance, from brand awareness to brand consistency. It’s a way of increasing transparency amid the thick fog of online and offline marketing activities and tightening their grip on nonworking spend (the cost of creating and executing ad campaigns) to increase the impact of their working dollars (the cost of media placements).
There seem to be four things that heads of marketing now seek to own that they could not and did not care to own even five years ago. Together they enable a fifth and crucial benefit.
In early 2015, Foundation Capital predicted that CMO spending on marketing technology will grow 10 times by 2025 (source), and a 2016 DataXu study (source) found that 59 percent of companies globally will bring more Marketing Technology in-house in the next year. As media delivery, asset creation, workflow, and measurement software proliferate and become more sophisticated, CMOs want to own the tools (the software) to perform research, analysis and tasks, and to measure productivity, workflow status, asset usage, and effectiveness. With real-time feeds, the agile marketer can manage based on what happened yesterday, not what happened last month, and even manage predictively using enriched data and machine learning.
Owning the technology allows CMOs to own the data associated with the working budget they have spent: the click-through rates, the number of contacts in their databases, historical performance of digital campaigns and channels, retail off-shelf rates, brand sentiment scores, NPS, etc. Bringing ad performance data in-house, for example, helps marketers objectively measure marketing effectiveness and agency performance. To help reduce nonworking spend, marketers can bring data from quality management in-house as well. This may include methods of ensuring quality upstream at the creative brief and at each communication point along the value chain to reduce the costs of directional or information errors. Even managing print quality in-line at printers and converters can prevent errors from progressing further in the process, where the cost of mistakes only compound.
With the rise of Digital Asset Management, marketing team members can have quick, self-service access to the brand’s digital assets: TV ads and other videos, images, product shots, all types of logo files, all the components of the annual report, all website assets, all social media assets, even user-generated assets featuring product or brand names (if possible). If the CMO’s team owns them, they can create value with them. The team can use today’s technology to automate processes and respond to customers faster than through outsourcing. Conversely, if an agency owns the assets, the brand uses more non-working budget just to access what’s needed to use working budget. And more profoundly, when the marketing team doesn’t own the brand’s assets, it outsources core responsibility for the identity and value of the brand itself.
There are many workflow tools and collaboration tools today, but the only way to ensure the quality of all marketing communications is to own the process itself. Process doesn’t have to be held together by project management heroes and the sheer force of their determination or charisma. Process should be embedded in a platform owned by the brand that automates and records the workflow – not left to third parties to operate as a mysterious art. Brand owners are starting to invite third parties to perform tasks using the brand owners’ tools and may decline to pay for agency-grown or disparate technology systems to be used on their behalf.
The foundation comprised of these core components enables companies to unearth opportunities for continuous improvement, understand the true impact of countermeasures, solve problems and increase value for the organization and for its shareholders. When a CMO has her process, assets, data, and technology under her control within her organization, not relying on outside parties or managing at a distance, her team can see opportunities to improve and innovate, streamline processes, reuse or repurpose assets, learn from data, and leverage technology in new and innovative ways.
How will your company use these tools, now at your fingertips, to improve?