Consumer Voice Dictating Marketing Budgets; Programmatic Only Gets 1%

Some 63% of marketers plan to improve marketing strategies through customer segmentation and targeting, but only 6% see themselves as leaders in Big Data management compared with 62% who view themselves as keeping pace or lagging behind competitors, per the CMO Council's annual State of Marketing global benchmark study released Monday.

It's a little unclear how the 525 senior marketing executives worldwide participating in the survey will accomplish the task, although 54% expect overall budgets to increase. Some 27% believe their budgets will remain the same. The funds are not being allocated to technology.

When asked to identify where marketers will allocate marketing budget across operational and process areas in the next 12 months, 12% plan to invest in product marketing, another 12% in strategy and branding, about 7% in marketing and planning, 7% in sales and lead management, and 5% in market research, among other areas. Down at the bottom of the list at 1% sits advertising technology systems and platforms like programmatic buying, and marketing tools, and another 1% to collaboration and workflow systems.

Despite these limited planned tech investments during the coming year, the need to understand data puts analytics skills that can identify customer behavior at the top of the list. Marketers said they would look for new hires skilled in analytics during the next 12 months. Most marketers struggle with an increasing number of digital marketing platforms requiring knowledge of marketing cloud middleware that connects data silos. Some 55% of marketers plan headcount additions compared with 22% who expect reductions.

Search engine optimization and Web site search remain important marketing strategies. This stems from paying more attention to consumer needs, an "all-encompassing theme" in 2014. Nearly 50% of survey respondents listed optimizing search for Web site marketing, as well as events and trade shows rank the most effective ways to brand and generate demand in their market. Another 42% admit the most value lies in social media interaction and engagement. These areas surpassed traditional print and broadcast media, and well ahead of mobile search and mobile advertising.

Get ready for a slight shakeup of agency partners. While 63% of marketers rate agency partner contributions extremely valuable or pretty good, 66% plan to make one or more changes to their agency rosters in the next 12 months. A lack of business results, value-added thinking, and uninspired creative advertisements and messages top the list of reasons for changes in agency partners, per the study.

Brand marketers are looking for something new, even if they recycle an old strategy with a twist. This year survey respondents clearly point to the brand as a center of everything from content creation and digital engagement to business growth and drive. Among the top mandates that senior management outlines for marketers for this year, 56% said driving business growth remains at the top of the list. Some 52% follow business growth with retaining market share and 44% admit to defining a better definition of brand value in the eyes of consumers.

The drive for better customer service comes from consumers on digital channels with new insights that amplify the consumer's voice. Some 54% said new products or program launches will continue to revenue the most funds in the next 12 months, followed by 53% who cite corporate branding and identify building.

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