Bill Bruno, CEO of Ebiquity, looks at the technology topics CMOs will need to get ahead of in the next year.
The media, marketing, and technology sectors have undergone quite a few changes in recent months. Ultimately, the role of the CMO is changing, and the role’s impact on both data and media investments has become paramount to sustained brand success. With consumers becoming fickle with negative customer experiences, improving those experiences with a pragmatic approach is what I see as the main goal for today’s CMOs and their respective teams.
Building a positive customer experience begins at the top of the funnel, with media investments made to reach the right audiences with the right message at the right time. The transparency of those investments, particularly in digital, has been called into question many times throughout the past 18-24 months. CMOs have to understand the challenges of digital transparency and ensure that they are maximizing their marketing dollars and avoiding the common pitfalls plaguing the market today. In addition, CMOs must ensure their media partner relationships are managed with a high-level of governance and strong contracts to protect the brand and their investments. This isn’t just about digital, however, especially when traditional channels, such as TV, continue to outperform from an effectiveness standpoint. Striving for the correct media mix while ensuring that decisions are rooted in data is an ongoing struggle for the CMO.
“CMOs will need to more closely align with other leaders in the organization and build stronger partnerships throughout the business to ensure everyone is working towards a common goal.”
Capturing the right data about each customer interaction is the first step in making those data-driven decisions. With so much pressure on marketing budgets, each investment comes with scrutiny and a desire to understand effectiveness and return on investment. However, in a post-GDPR world, thought has to be put into connecting the user across both channel and device while also complying with the necessary legislation in the US and abroad. To support that singular customer view comes the rise of the Customer Data Platform (CDP). Ultimately, technology will continue to be a critical piece of every marketer’s toolbox, helping CMOs to simplify the ability to capture data about customers and make it usable in near real-time scenarios.
Chiefmartech.com currently has almost 7,000 different technologies listed for marketing, which means two things: first, marketing has never been more technology-enabled than it is right now, and second, it has never been more confusing to select the right vendors for your business. With no shortage in technology, the CMO must look to internal and external partners to ensure the right stack is in place for their brand, while knowing that any technology deployed on their behalf—from media partners, as an example—is ultimately owned and controlled by the brand. Close alignment with counterparts in the organization (e.g. CIO, CTO, CDO) will become critical for ensuring that marketing is successful in its endeavors yearly.
In order to make a better customer experience a reality, we’ll need to tear down silos. Ultimately, CMOs are hamstrung by divisions of data and knowledge when looking to build a centralized customer view. This is where the selection of a CDP, or at least thinking through how you might implement a CDP in your organization, can be very valuable to the cause. As the framework for a CDP is designed, it will force those silos to be knocked down and will create stronger partnerships with others across the organization. CMOs who are effective at moving the needle in the CDP sector will ultimately see the most benefit for their customers.
All the technologies managed within the stack, or externally with third-party partners, create data that can be used to measure the effectiveness and ROI that every CMO needs. If you browse around the industry, you’ll see data referred to as the “new oil,” or that data “is the currency of today.” Regardless, there is no denying that ownership of data is mission-critical for CMOs looking to bring positive change to media and marketing investments for every brand. In this case, ownership means control over what data is created, where it is stored, and how it is used. Too often, I see brands having to argue with partners over access to data they already “own”—this needs to change.
“Transparency, accountability, and a clear measure of success are the three pillars that should be owned by CMOs and their respective teams for every campaign that goes live.”
CMOs should expect to see data’s focus continue to shift towards only capturing what is needed, versus collecting everything across all consumer touchpoints. This shift isn’t just a reaction to GDPR and privacy laws, it’s the need for marketing data to be nimble and available in near real-time for personalization and targeting. Unless you’re a data scientist looking to build attribution or econometric models, you don’t need a massive, multi-year dataset to work off of. In most cases, CMOs will need to steer their teams towards customer-centric attributes that can be used to drive change and better experiences for their consumers.
As a result, I see reliance on third-party data continuing to wane with a new focus on converting customer data to first party when possible. Targeting in programmatic advertising will be better served by first party data over time, within a CDP or DMP, and internal legal teams within the brands will be happier to have that level of control over the usage and storage of customer data. This is where CRM comes into play, as the linkage between offline data, digital data, and third-party attribute enhancements. As this data is linked, CMOs will need to think about how to best operationalize the data and learnings throughout the business. After all, it is all about the storytelling and insights that lead to the activation, and this is where platforms like Domo ultimately assist in knocking down silos and telling the full data story.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t expand a bit further on the largest budget in most marketing organizations: media. From a technology perspective, CMOs need to ensure that a verification tool (i.e. Moat, IAS) is being deployed across all digital investments. The associated fees that have been proven to take over half of the digital media budget out of play before it reaches the publisher also need to be managed, understood, and interrogated for every campaign going live, whether it’s being done direct or programmatically. Transparency, accountability, and a clear measure of success are the three pillars that should be owned by CMOs and their respective teams for every campaign that goes live.
The struggle to reach the right audiences and generate a return on investment from any media channel begins with ensuring the budget is actually going to the placement of creative. From there, defining success for each campaign and aligning measurement protocols and tech stacks will ensure the right measurement is in place. The learnings from the data collected across device and channel can then be used for furthered activation and better targeting efforts.
From where I stand, data and technology are the two main disciplines that CMOs should dive into over the next few months. Their organizations will be tasked with the goals of protecting transparency, reaching the right audiences, and measuring the ROI from each investment. To do that, CMOs will need to more closely align with other leaders in the organization and build stronger partnerships throughout the business to ensure everyone is working towards a common goal. The tenure of a CMO is roughly 44 months nowadays, but I believe that those who evolve quickly and set their brands up for success will see their tenure increase. Never has the world of marketing been more measurable, but the path to achieving that success requires a new, true alignment on the definition of success.
In order for companies to protect transparency, reach the right audiences, and measure ROI, they will need to use data and technology to their advantage and make sure everyone is working towards a common goal. Data is the new oil and when used effectively and efficiently it has the power to create better, targeted, and more positive customer experiences, especially in the area of media marketing.