A Roadmap for the Next Decade of Marketing

January 22, 2020 Anne Curtin

Now that the New Year's Eve celebrations are over and the champagne corks have popped, it's back to work for most people. But for marketers, all of that might have just been a warmup for the Roaring 20s—the 2020s—and the massive disruptions that will be driving marketing spending and planning for the next 10 years.

This isn't going to be Roaring 20s of a hundred years ago, with bootleggers, flappers, and gangsters, but rather a 21st century marketing version—the Roaring 20s of Marketing. Though we're only a few weeks into the 2020s, it looks to be a decade of transformation for traditional marketing plans and approaches. And it will be a decade in which marketers will have to reevaluate their plans and standard procedures to stay competitive and capture customers.

For example, digital media now captures over half of all advertising spending in the U.S. However, too few organizations have taken the time to put the processes in place to make the most of those investments.

The recently released Nielsen Annual Marketing Report can help you start the new year (and decade) off right. Think of it as a roadmap for the Roaring 20s of Marketing. Based on a survey of over 350 global marketers, it highlights the fundamental shifts affecting marketing organizations and includes recommendations and actionable tips for marketers.

Selected key findings from the report include:

Digital media budgets follow perception, not reality.

It used to be easier to understand and quantify (with metrics) the benefits that different media channels delivered. From TV to newspapers to magazines to direct mail, organizations knew what they were buying, for how much, and what results to expect. That meant they could make informed decisions about their budgets.

In the 2020s, that's no longer the case—at least when it comes to digital media. And with the importance of digital media today, it's more critical than ever to have a plan that can deliver. That plan starts by recognizing a disconnect with regard to digital media budgets.

Our survey results reveal that in reality, novelty plays a big part in marketers' confidence and value decisions related to digital media, with new channels getting the benefit of the doubt.

For example, survey respondents judged search, video, and social media channels as the most effective but rated email, search, and display as the channels in which they had the most confidence from an ROI perspective. In other words, marketers have a lot of faith in relatively new digital channels and consider them effective yet don't have absolute confidence in their ability to measure ROI.

The takeaway message for marketers? Going forward, gut feel won't be good enough. Organizations should recognize what they know, and don't know, about different channels and seek out measurement solutions to quantify their assumptions.

Data quality is an alarmingly low priority.

Life is full of tradeoffs, especially if the topic is corporate budgets and marketing. Should you spend limited marketing dollars on creative? Or on audience targeting, personalization, publisher placement, or any other number of factors that could impact the effectiveness of what you're trying to accomplish?

According to our survey, when it comes to prioritizing marketing campaign priorities, audience targeting is ranked at the top by the highest number of respondents (53%), followed by ad creative (37%) and audience reach (31%).

Unfortunately, data quality comes in a distant fourth with 28%—quite a surprise. While reaching the right audience and having engaging content are crucial, making sure you have quality underlying data and metrics is critical as well.

Without accurate data, the validity of any potential insight is called into question. Data quality is important, and marketers need to focus on improving data quality just as much as they focus on audience targeting and content.

Digital will break down advertising and promotion silos.

Marketers have a lot of choices in terms of media categories. There's paid media, owned media, earned media, and trade promotions. Of this quartet, trade promotions is often seen by many companies as simply a cost of doing business and may even be managed outside the marketing department (e.g. when promotions were limited to coupon flyers in the Sunday newspapers or similar vehicles).

According to the Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, that may change soon. Trade promotions are ripe for disruption, and the move to majority digital marketing spending will help break down the silos between trade and above-the-line spend. In the 2020s, savvy marketers can use promotions to learn about customers and change their mix of media categories.

Get the Full Story 

For the complete story on ways to manage marketing disruption during the 2020s, download the Nielsen Annual Marketing Report today. Learn from the collective wisdom of the over 350 marketers around the world, and get Nielsen's take on those results.

As you'll see, our report is like a roadmap for understanding digital marketing changes on the horizon—and an excellent starting point for any organization looking to successfully navigate the Roaring 20s of Marketing.

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