Six things every CMO should be watching this year

Friday, 10 January 2014 01:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By David Armano There’s no shortage of trend pieces or crystal ball-gasing this time of year. The problem is that with all that prediction going on, we often tend to cover too much ground rather than focus on the spaces that matter directly to us. This piece looks specifically at what a senior marketing executive or CMO should be keeping an eye on over the next year. While trends like wearable tech, are very real and accelerating—this specific consumer behaviour may not be relevant to the marketing machine for your particular organisation. In contrast, here are six things every CMO or marketing executive should be watching closely this year. 1. The collaborative economy Also called the sharing economy or collaborative consumption, among other names, the loosely defined movement shares one common denominator: It empowers providers, peers and “consumers” alike to directly interact, do business or engage in transactions. Popular BPOP +0.09% examples include Uber and AirBnB, but they go far beyond that. For CMOs, the collaborative economy provides new possibilities in partnerships that can enhance existing business and brand initiatives or create entirely new ones. Two recent examples include Walgreens, which recently partnered with Taskrabbit (an outsourcing marketplace) to deliver cold medicine to people too sick to leave home. Another brand example is GE, which is working with Quirky, a collaborative marketplace for inventors to co-brand new products featured on not only the platform, but in stores like Home Depot HD +0.53%. The collaborative economy may not seem like something traditionally in the CMO’s wheelhouse, but any time a consumer/customer becomes empowered, marketers should be the first to take notice. 2. Ephemeral media Think of it as the opposite of the “long tail” in many ways—ephemeral media is in the moment, abbreviated, and sometimes, as in the case of Snapchat, gone in an instant. Ephemeral media represents a bigger shift that’s gaining traction, which has something to do with our attention spans combined with content that finds us as opposed to our actively searching for the content. On Vine, for example, if you are following even a few friends, brands or media outlets, you’ll be exposed to not only the content they are producing but the content they are sharing, and it’s all in your “stream” in an instant—for six seconds, then you are on to the next. The rules for ephemeral media differ from what’s been traditionally valued in media, digital or otherwise—shorter, faster, more niche and, in some cases, temporary. 3. CMO-Plus Signs are pointing to the CMO role not only evolving but also expanding or becoming newly empowered. A recent study from Forrester concludes that 78% of the participants polled felt that the marketing organisation’s influence on corporate strategy is much greater. Anecdotally, Marriot caught the attention of CIOs recently through its organisational design, in which their CIO now reports to the CMO.  Add to this the fact that social media and digital advances continue to blur the lines among marketing, customer service, corporate reputation and even offers insights that R&D find valuable—in an era of increasing overlap, CMOs will be finding themselves a seat at the table more often than not. 4. Facebook video ads While the jury is still out on the Facebook Video Ad in terms of whether it will help or hurt the social platform—it’s a development worth following.  Despite the popularity of digital, TV advertising spend continues to rise and marketers are finding a second life for video in places such as YouTube. Facebook’s video ads and the promotion options behind them could give marketers yet another tool to stretch their video budgets and maximise reach, frequency and penetration. 5. Programmatic Automation That’s right, the machines are coming. Media buying and other components of marketing are going to be more automated, not less. Whether it’s “real-time bidding” or using platforms in place of junior staffers who buy media, we’re likely to see a steady influx of algorithms that gradually take the place of jobs people used to do. Programmatic and automated marketing processes is nothing new—Google has been doing a version of it for a while with its bidding system, but it’s going to gain steam as the technology gets better and practitioners begin embracing it. 6. The responsive brand For marketers, everything is just getting faster with no signs of slowing. Every day there are examples of brands whose quick thinking earn them bragging rights or are keeping them more relevant and current in the minds and hearts of consumers. Most recently Ben & Jerry’s made a connection to the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado during the heat of the debate—and without actually saying it, Ben & Jerry’s consumers (and others) got the joke/social statement. Being a responsive brand means being able to move nimbly and in the moment. For numerous organisations this will prove difficult to do, but many will try and some will even get really good at it. (The writer is Global Strategy Director, Key Accounts at Edelman Digital)