Fortune 500 CMOs occupy a unique and powerful office. They bear the ultimate responsibility for a brand's marketing successes -- and its failures. In 2014, CMOs spent a staggering $179.8 billion on paid media in the U.S. alone, according to eMarketer. On the digital side, they are spending as much to keep buyers (via marketing technology) as they are to find new ones (via ad tech). Finally, as pundits foretell in one of the industry's most often-quoted predictions, by 2017 CMOs will outspend CIOs.
Collectively, those statistics should scare the hell out of the marketing industry.
Why? Because in this day and age, every ad execution -- including broadcast, print and offline -- needs to be tracked digitally and the C-suite needs access to data at a moment's notice. Yet most CMO offices deal with complex technology infrastructures made up of such a wide variety of technology vendors that they can't gain a complete picture of their own marketing data, despite the unique value that each vendor brings to the table.
As an example of such complexity, consider this scenario: Every CMO office has at least one agency partner. Together, they interact with marketing automation platforms that leverage a brand's CRM system. They use some version of a demand side platform to buy and optimize display, video, mobile and search ads. They work with data management platforms to segment audiences and enhance their DSP buys. Their teams monitor an execution infrastructure that includes ad servers, pixel management, web analytics and content management systems, while simultaneously working with publishers, social networks and third-party data platforms. At the same time, they're working with new technology partners to harness the incredible power of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn marketing.
That network of partners and vendors, individually and collectively, generates an incredible amount of invaluable data, but the industry lacks a layer of connected intelligence to aggregate it and present it back to marketers in an actionable format. Instead, Excel remains the most commonly used platform for analysis, with PowerPoint most used for reporting. Such reporting is generally confined to the campaign level. Brand managers can't roll up campaign reporting to the brand level across multiple execution channels, and CMOs can't roll up brand results to the corporate level. Incredibly sensitive information driven from millions of dollars in media campaigns is even passed around via email and on USB drives without regard for corporate security.
Brands should be able to leverage their historical data to inform their future marketing efforts and then close the loop to quantify performance and return on investment. Sadly, despite the fact that big data has unlocked tremendous value for so many industries around the world, brand marketers are being left behind rather than embracing the new technology transforming other industries.
Marketing technology vendors aren't stepping up to innovate in this space. Industry giants are trying to swallow a mishmash of technology they've come to possess via acquisition, and startups have "technology" that masks legacy, people-driven processes.
Big data platforms can perform sophisticated analysis of historical data in addition to processing that data in real time. Advanced data science applications provide predictive modeling, scenario analyses, statistical modeling for marketing planning and other critical information. Delivering real-time insights allows marketers to make better decisions and act on the most relevant information to improve their future efforts. Some 84% of enterprises see big data analytics changing their industries' competitive landscapes in the next year, according to a recent Accenture study.
It is obvious that those who embrace big data and analytics will gain a competitive edge, while those that don't will see their market positions slip as they fail to compete. Simply look at the impact of big data and analytics on the financial markets that embraced this change -- and grew their businesses --compared to those that became extinct. Financial institutions are, in many ways, like marketing analysts. Since they don't manufacture a physical product, data is one of their most important assets. That made big data a huge differentiator for them when it was adopted, since it automated the process of hundreds of millions of transactions daily -- leaving those firms that tried to process such transactions manually out in the cold.
It's time for marketers to embrace big data the same way that their counterparts in the financial markets have. Big data, combined with platforms that leverage it to provide a layer of connected intelligence, is the key to CMOs maintaining their competitive advantage in a digital world.
About the Author
Shawn Douglass is president, Big Data & Analytics, and CTO at Unified. Mr. Douglass delivers on Unified's technology strategy and architects the company's rapidly expanding SaaS offerings in cross-platform data management, analytics and reporting. He has been a cloud visionary and key contributor to the emerging enterprise cloud operating model for over a decade. Mr. Douglass is a graduate of Harvard Business School.
Unified is an award-winning marketing cloud technology company. Unified provides professional marketers with powerful insights, content and advertising tools built on the industry's most advanced data platform. Unified serves over 600 customers, including Global 2,000 enterprises and their advertising agencies, from its offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. For more information: www.UnifiedSocial.com.