Consumers travel an increasingly tangled path that goes from digital to physical and back again. They expect to engage with your brand across multiple channels and welcome relevant, personalized offers on each platform they visit—your brand site, social media, email, and across publishers.
For this reason, “[t]here has never been a more dynamic and challenging time to be a marketer.”
With these words, Eric Solomon, Nielsen’s SVP Marketing and Strategy, opens the recently released Nielsen CMO Report. The report presents the findings of an in-depth survey and one-on-one interviews with CMOs across industry verticals.
The research sheds light on the strategic and organizational challenges CMOs face as they adapt to unprecedented change in the marketing landscape. It offers an objective glimpse into the marketing trends impacting companies and marketing careers in today’s increasingly complex advertising environment.
Marketers are Shifting How They Evaluate, Measure and Budget
Marketing effectiveness today requires more than expertise and business savvy. In the era of the empowered consumer, shoppers around the world no longer simply go to the nearest store; they grab the nearest digital device.
Against this backdrop of rapidly changing consumer behavior, it’s critical to quantify ROI, demonstrate real business results and continuously improve marketing performance.
The marketers in the report made it clear they’re not looking for more data, but better insight. They lack confidence in their ability to measure performance and in the marketing technology they use to accomplish their goals, but are prepared to change to meet customer expectations.
1. Digital Media Has Transformed Marketing
Search and social media were considered extremely important by most marketers:
- 79% of respondents ranked search as “very” or “extremely” important
- 73% thought the same about social media
- A large majority also considered online video (64%) and email (59%) to be very or extremely important channels.
- Search (68%), social media (68%) and mobile (59%) were ranked as “very” or “extremely” effective by large majorities of respondents
ROI measurement shows room for improvement:
- Only 26% of respondents reported high confidence (e.g., “very” or “extremely” confident) in their ability to quantify digital media ROI
- 42% of respondents reported that they lack confidence in quantifying ROI of traditional media campaigns
Digital media spend will grow in the near future:
- 82% of respondents agreed that digital media spend is going to increase, with only 4% forecasting a decrease
- Respondents expect, on average, a 49% increase in digital media budgets in the next 12 months
- 44% expect a decrease in traditional media budgets
Television is still an important part of media strategy:
- 30% of respondents ranked TV as “extremely important,”—no other traditional channel reached 10%
- Over 61% consider TV an effective channel
Takeaway: Digital innovation continues and even TV is becoming addressable. Keeping up with the pace of change is mission critical if marketers are to realize the benefits of digital marketing.
2. Marketers are Tackling the Omnichannel Dilemma
The research shows that while marketers continue to be challenged by media fragmentation and the structure of their organizations, they are making progress toward a more omni-channel approach to media.
- Most respondents (62%) report that they rely on an omni-channel marketing approach (departments organized across channels)
- A considerable number (36%) continue to rely on a multi-channel approach (departments organized by channel)
- Departmental silos remain a growing pain for many organizations.
Takeaway: Brands are rapidly adjusting to the changing media ecosystem by breaking down departmental silos and aligning teams to create a good customer experience. The report notes: “What was once a dilemma, as our current and past research has shown, is increasingly becoming an opportunity.”
3. Customer Acquisition is the Highest Priority
Respondents ranked the importance of five primary objectives including brand awareness, customer acquisition, loyalty, advocacy and churn. Each of the five was ranked highly, reinforcing how important a non-siloed, customer-first marketing approach is.
- 93% of respondents ranked customer acquisition as “very” (40%) or “extremely” important (53%)
- Brand awareness (81%), customer loyalty (76%), customer advocacy (68%), and reducing customer churn/turnover (60%) all ranked as “very” or “extremely” important by at least 60% of respondents
Takeaway: Maximizing marketing effectiveness requires a coordinated and intelligent approach to both prospecting and retention efforts. An audience-centric measurement approach can help marketers create a more “human” connection with customers and prospects while increasing their long-term value to the business.
4. Brands Demand More of Agencies
The last section of the report focuses on the changing role of agencies, with many marketers noting the need for agencies to become more digitally savvy.
- 32% of marketers agree that their media agency has experienced significant change in the last three years.
- 43% of respondents plan to increase their media agency budget next year (by 8% on average) and 19% plan to reduce it
- 83% reported some level of confidence in their agencies’ ability to deliver ROI but only 6% feel completely confident
Takeaway: Helping clients understand the cross-channel consumer journey and make smarter planning and investment decisions is a powerful way to differentiate your agency.
5. Integrated Marketing Stacks Enable Better Planning
Marketers use complex technologies to derive insight from massive amounts of data, but also face challenges in applying these tools. They realize that their personal and professional success depends on accurate measurement and are willing to invest in the right tools and talent.
- Less than 25% reported being very confident in their current marketing technology
- Nearly 28% of respondents reported not having the data they need
- 59% rated marketing mix modeling an important marketing capability followed closely by multi-touch attribution (MTA) at 51%
- 79% expect to increase their investment in analytics in the next 12 months
Takeaway: Different needs require different measurement approaches. Look for solutions that bring diverse analytic approaches together, so you can understand how you’re performing across all your marketing and advertising.
Brands Must Change to Meet Customer Expectations
Many brands realize that changes in consumer media consumption and buying behavior are significant. The report reveals that marketing executives are aware that this new era will require them to change their processes, people and promotions in return.
Forward-looking brands are increasingly organizing themselves in a more channel-agnostic way with customers at the center of their strategy. CMOs and others are gearing up to face organizational, technical and performance measurement challenges.
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To learn more, download a copy of The Nielsen CMO Report
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