CMO Survey 2018: How brands win in the digital economy

Investment on the up as global marketers bank on a data dividend

Marketing spend is expected to increase across most markets and industry verticals—technology CMOs are mostly likely to be increasing their budgets; food & beverage and automotive CMOs are most likely to be cutting their budgets

• While short term budgets are generally increasing, securing long-term investment is the biggest challenge facing CMOs in the delivery of their strategy

• Within that context, using data to target real people is the #1 strategic opportunity for CMOs—but a data breach is also the #1 risk

• 60% believe that GDPR will make it harder to build a direct relationship with the consumer. A similar proportion (61%) say that while more data is available, it is harder to extract insight

• Innovation ranks bottom in terms of being identified as key marketing role—putting the ability to meet the demands of the digital economy at risk

A major, global survey of 1,000 CMOs and senior-level marketers across ten countries has revealed that marketing investment is on an upward curve, as marketing’s role as the primary ‘growth antennae’ for organisations is strengthened by the use of data. CMOs are in a unique position to turn consumer insight into the next commercial opportunity and new sources of revenue.

Dentsu Aegis Network’s ‘CMO Survey 2018’, found that six in ten marketers expect marketing budgets to rise in the next twelve months. But it’s budget increases among larger corporates that stand out, with 43% of respondents planning for increases of 5% or more and just one in twenty expecting to see budgets fall. Confidence is highest among technology, automotive and financial services CMOs.
However, the survey also suggests CMOs are facing significant challenges as they attempt to balance the opportunity to build new capabilities and enhance their role, with the risks and challenges driven by data and the digital economy.

Opportunities in data tempered with caution

The evolution of marketing data towards real people, building on digital proxies and broad customer segment data, is identified as the number one strategic opportunity for CMOs over the next 2-3 years, with 80% of CMOs also recognising its importance to effective customer engagement.

However, the findings also reveal a substantial degree of caution. Suffering a data breach is now the leading strategic risk identified, while a high proportion of respondents (60%) believe that data protection legislation such as GDPR will make it harder to build direct relationships with consumers.

Digital commerce shaping how marketers approach partners and suppliers

Investment is expected to rise, but the survey reveals changing priorities, reflecting the increased focus on data as an enabler of growth. Investment in digital media, in-housing of marketing capability and a growing role for specialists are all high on the investment agenda.

Innovation being over-looked?

Just over one-third of CMOs identify “leading disruptive innovation“ as one of their core functional priorities. US CMOs are significantly more focussed on innovation (46%) while CMOs in the UK are well adrift of the international average (25%).

Nigel Morris, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network said:

“There’s a clear shift, as senior marketers adapt to a digital economy characterised by customer-led demand, near perfect competition and where competitive advantage rests in how well you know your customers. CMO perspectives are moving away from short-term investment in tech, apps and platforms towards what really matters – digital transformation that orientates the whole business around customers.

“Data is central to creating deeper customer relationships and understanding and the most successful marketers have recognised that the key to strategic business growth is in their hands. This has the potential to transform marketing’s role as the architect of a business’s long-term vision.


That the digital economy is disrupting marketing is self-evident. But it is the depth of that disruption that many risk under-estimating. The digital economy is not just about digitising products and services. It is fundamentally changing the economic context in which brands operate— eroding barriers to entry, collapsing information asymmetries, stoking competition and putting the consumer firmly in control.

The transition to this demand-led economy is happening at such pace that many brands are struggling to keep up. This does not mean that brands don’t matter—far from it. They matter now more than ever before. It’s just that the way they will win in the future is very different from today.

Our survey paints a picture of a cadre of CMOs who are not just resilient, but also creative, confident and, in some cases, bullish about the future of marketing. The good news is that the key elements of future-proof marketing are emerging. Creating perfect moments where experience and transaction combine, all in real time and at the behest of the consumer. The bad news is that there remains a number of hurdles to overcome. Not enough CMOs see disruptive innovation as a core element of their role. Data protection regulation is seen as a barrier to building better consumer relationships, rather than a lever that can help engender trust. And securing long term investment remains a critical barrier for CMOs’ plans as they find themselves under pressure to deliver short-term returns.

Future success lies in creating perfect moments that short-cut the traditional marketing funnel. This means constantly realigning business and operating models around changing consumer needs, reinventing marketing as a driver of innovation. It means building new capability and marshalling a wider marketing ecosystem. And it means combining overcoming perceived trade-offs between the short and long term, or the tactical and the strategic.

A complex future demands an integrated marketing machine that works in harmony. Marketing isn’t dead, as some doomsayers have declared. But it will work differently in the future. Understanding how and evolving in response is essential if brands are to win in a digital economy.

Ten questions for CMOs

1.Am I leading disruptive innovation across the business, not just within the marketing function?

2.Do I have the right configuration across the marketing ecosystem to maximise the value of in-house and external capability?

3.Do I have sufficient capability to extract game-changing insight from increasing volumes of consumer data?

4.Are we set up so that every appropriate consumer touchpoint can result in a transaction?

5. Am I using authentic brand purpose as a driver of increased consumer engagement?

6.Am I leading a process of constant business transformation around the consumer?

7.Am I measuring a combination of long-term brand health and short-term business growth?

8. How do I use our consumer data to increase the impact of creative experiences?

9.Am I using media as a tool of strategic planning, in addition to increased sales/reach?

10.How do I decide which emerging digital technologies will drive meaningful consumer engagement?

Read 417 times Last modified on Sunday, 05 August 2018 04:34
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