What does the future look like for a CMO?

 

A CMO’s life is a buoyant one – marketing is quite a different beast to just 10 years ago and today it has grown horns and is starting to bite. To achieve CMO status a significant journey through the marketing maze has already taken place; these guys are experts in the field with a total grasp on every element that matters. But, that maze has become significantly more complex of late – programmatic trading of online media has opened up numerous opportunities but in turn created a handful of worrying issues that point to a world of robots, adverts that aren’t seen, agency transparency, a disenfranchised end user, and an aggressive shift to the blocking of online advertising content. The next few years are going to be quite testing for CMOs; to survive, they need to arm themselves with a few weapons, an open mind and quite a bit of knowledge.

In the 20 years I’ve been focused on marketing technology, I have seen great campaigns and appalling campaigns. The piece that separates the two is the human element. For programmatic this is even more the case as human intervention can control and optimise a programmatic campaign to great effect; but it can also be complacent.

Complacency is the ruin of online advertising. A creative execution can be wonderful or dreadful. The set-up and delivery of a campaign can be something to care considerably about, or something to fire off before the liquid lunch and hope will work. Evidence of a laissez-faire approach to programmatic advertising stares us all in the face each time the item we looked at a few weeks back is still popping up wherever we go, to the point where if one thing’s for sure, there’s no chance we’ll buy that product in the future. Brand damage is now a key by-product of malpractice in online advertising.

It worries me hugely the lack of experience and care in the online marketing world, and it should worry the CMO. Far too much spend is being decided by agency planners who lack experience and don’t care enough.  The effects of this are becoming hard to ignore, as is the continued insistence on a policy of incessant retargeting of end users and the over exploitation of highly intrusive formats that damage brands and drive up ad blocking.

Online advertising can be a brilliant channel but to make sure that this segment of the marketing mix is delivering beyond the ambitions of the brand marketing team, the CMO is going to have to take more control, demand more and challenge more. To do this they need confidence and that can only come from knowledge. They will need to surround themselves with the right talent, which in turn will give them that confidence. What does that team look like? It should include a content commissioner, a data analyst for targeting and reporting, a programmatic trading and ad tech expert, a negotiator who knows how to get the best out of the media agencies – and that’s just the beginning. Gaining the knowledge to create meaningful, strategic relationships with their audience – that will be the prerogative of the future CMO, and what better time to start than now?