Much has been said and written in the marketing industry about Twitter's decision to have its CFO Anthony Noto, an alumnus of noted Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, oversee the company's marketing organization.
Bottom line: How can a left-brain numbers guy oversee a right-brain, creative marketing organization?
The truth is that how marketing is managed in 2015 is very different from how it was managed even 15 or 20 years ago. Here are four reasons why a CFO, particularly for a well-known and publicly traded company like Twitter, can oversee marketing today:
1. It's all about the data. Today, marketing is driven by data. The "Mad Men" of yesteryear have been replaced by "math men" and "math women," data scientists, quantitative analysts and other number crunchers who analyze the data for measuring, analyzing and optimizing every marketing campaign. Marketers used to have to wait weeks, even months, for post-campaign analysis in the pre-internet era, but now, with hardware costs greatly reduced and improvements in data analysis, they can see campaign analysis in near real-time.
If marketing campaigns are being guided by data, then who better to manage marketing than professionals trained in data and financial analysis? Few have more experience in overseeing data than a former Wall Street analyst, particularly one who was voted top analyst for research on the internet industry.
2. Twitter is focused on performance marketing in 2015. Twitter is one of the best-known and most respected internet brands. Look what happened when President Obama started tweeting @POTUS -- in less than a week, he had over 2 million followers and a well-documented twitversation with former President Clinton.
I'd venture a guess that Twitter's marketing is less focused on brand building, for which it has done a great job, than on performance-based marketing tactics to grow its user base and active Twitter usage. With the organization's focus on performance marketing, appointing a numbers guy makes sense. Noto should be able to bring his analytical skills and focus on revenue to help grow the right metrics, which should help the company's stock rebound.
The truth is that in 2015, we're all performance marketers. All marketers are busy analyzing relevant user actions and reactions in order to optimize their current campaigns. Whether we're using behavioral segmentation or post-install event analysis, we're all relying on data to improve marketing performance.
3. It is the age of mar-tech. "Marketing is a technical discipline now. We have to re-frame things we have been doing for 100 years," said Doug Milliken, VP of global brand bevelopment at Clorox.
Marketers should view these not as campaign tactics but as elements of a constantly evolving strategy. Brands will need to implement marketing technology that is going to provide their organizations with data and analytics to manage and optimize their marketing campaigns and budgets. And as marketing technology redefines marketing as we once knew it, different skill sets will be needed to support the evolving role of marketing.
4. Breaking down the silos (and taboos) is good for organizations. Diversity is important for organizations and brings a different set of experiences and skills to the table, providing an important opportunity to solve problems with an alternative perspective. From my own personal experience, whether it was in the Israeli Army or at a marketing tech company, I have seen people with diverse backgrounds and experience solve a seemingly impossible problem simply because they approached it from a unique perspective.
I hope we'll see this trend continuing in marketing organizations, and that soon we'll have more philosophy majors in finance departments and artists writing code.