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Systems, staffing still wanting

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The results don't look good. No, I'm not talking about economic figures. I'm talking about recent studies showing that marketers are still dissatisfied with their ability to measure complex, integrated marketing efforts. The greatest challenge for marketers when it comes to integrating media is the lack of metrics to help them properly allocate the mix, according to a recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The study, based on an online survey of 294 marketers conducted in the first quarter, found marketers also face institutional challenges, including a reluctance to move funds from “tried-and-true” practices into newer areas and lack of understanding of digital media from senior management. I'd say there's an ancillary problem here, too. Even assuming an organization embraces a metrics-driven philosophy, if it lacks the technical infrastructure to monitor and manipulate its marketing programs, it won't be able keep up. Complex systems cannot scale without automation, a fact of life sadly lost on too many old-style managers. Just as worrisome is the digital marketing talent gap, as reported by Senior Editor Kate Maddox's Page 3 story in this issue. The story delves into the details of search company Heidrick & Struggles' survey, which found that more than half (60%) of 111 CMOs said their companies were “behind the curve” when it came to digital marketing. The survey's findings around internal training are even worse: Only 13% said this statement fit them very well: “Developed the internal talent required to develop and implement growth-generating digital marketing.” One bright spot on the digital marketing landscape is social media, which continues to captivate users, marketers and media companies. There are at least two, notable recent developments in social media. The first, which Media Editor Sean Callahan reports on in this issue (page 1), is IDG Communications' Amplify, a system that ties editorial content or online ads on IDG Web sites with social media, including external social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. IDG is exactly right with this “if you can't fight "em, join "em” philosophy. As recently as six months ago, you could still find a few publishers dreaming about creating “a Facebook for our industry.” You don't hear talk like that any more. The second trend—connecting the dots to technology's role, noted above—is covered in Senior Reporter Chris Hosford's summary (page 27) of announcements by marketing automation vendors, which are scrambling to add social media-friendly components to their applications and suites. One factoid from that story: A new survey that found more than 46% of e-mail marketing campaigns this year will use social media and e-mail in tandem, compared with just 13% last year. Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business and can be reached at ebooker@crain.com.
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