Data Saves The CMO

On average, most CMOs hold that job for less than two years. Ever wonder why?  A major contributing factor is the lack of fact-based decision-making.  Organizations of all sizes, all around the world, are coming to realize that without data at the core of their operational decisions, they are left at the hands of intuitive decision-making. Without data, decisions are made based on staff’s personal experiences and are often subject to “in-the-moment” thinking or anecdotal evidence.  While the intuitive approach to decision-making has worked moderately well in the past, without the reliance on data to make smarter, faster and reliable decisions, it is poised to fail going forward.

Research by Gartner projects that by 2017 CMOs will own more tools and have more budget to manage data than CIOs across the board.  The new CMOs will be held to higher standards of delivering revenue and demonstrate ROI for every dollar they invest in creative and media executions. 

That’s why I’m stating now, definitively: Data will save the CMO. 


Today, a single marketing campaign generates more data than a NASA flight to the moon, and if CMOs ignore that data, a savvy competitor will swoop in, collect that data for themselves, and leave CMOs standing with their pants down.  This has happened across the board!  In the world of automotive marketing, conquesting on the most prized/effective competitive keywords is the norm (Mercedes wins).  In the world of consumer packing goods, a savvy yogurt advertiser may target prospects based on witnessing individual calcium seeking behavior online. This behavior is a result of data collected by a non-data savvy competitor.

This is why everyone should be rushing to build up their analytics bench with what I like to call “datasexuals”: stewards of data who eat, breathe, drink, and LIVE data.  Having access to data and leveraging analytic resources for converting data to information should be used to optimize every marketing and advertising decision. 

Particularly within the world of marketing and advertising, I see several significant changes in the near future for the way we plan and buy media and the way we develop creative.  Today most digital advertising is delivered in real time and based on very granular exhibited consumer behavior; though this is still silo by media format, decisions about display advertising are made separate from those concerning online video, social, etc.  Creative is still static and designed in the creative director’s abstract world.  The future looks a lot different. I see data driving real-time decisions across all media channels.  We will see creative being a lot more dynamic and personalized to a specific occasion or based on a certain behavior. 

What three elements do CMOs need NOW to ensure both campaign effectiveness and their own job security?

1.   Comprehensive data collection and a logical and structured data access format – data that’s easy to get and analyze.

2.   Robust and flexible analytical software that spans cool data visualization and “over-my-head” statistical analysis.

3.   Datasexuals!  People trained and eager to analyze the heck out of data.

In today’s world, the first two are easy to come by; however, having the right talent to convert all that data to usual knowledge for a company is scarce.  In a follow-up post, I’ll share with you some tips on how to attract, identify, and retain the top datasexuals out there. Some may already be within your organization. 

In conclusion, data should be the oxygen of any marketing and advertising organization. Manipulating and exploiting data requires software (easy to get) and the right analytics talent (tough to recruit); so fortify your human resource departments and open your purse, because the next generation of data collection, software, and datasexuals will cost you -- but will be well worth it, extending your lifespan as CMO.


1 comment about "Data Saves The CMO".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 24, 2015 at 5:32 p.m.

    At present it is almost impossible to determine the true ROI on every dollar that is spent to promote or advertise a product or service because there are simply too many interacting variables, including many where there is no data or even a sound way to measure it. So we are left with the premise that what can be counted and tabulated will give us the answers, anyway, which sounds fine until you actually look at the data and try to interpret it. Sure, a yogurt advertiser might track down a million or so people who looked up calcium defficiency issues on the Internet and send them some ads to ponder---if they can even see them. But, even so, are we to assume that the only thing that sold any of these folks to buy the yogurt brand was the few online ads they might have seen? What about all of the other ads  on TV and elsewhere, that the same brand has been running? Did they play a part? And what about other factors---like word-of-mouth endorsements from friends or magazine articles the users may have read touting yogurt's health benefits? And why buy this particular brand? What about other yogurt brands?

    I'm all for data---providing it's valid data----but data and its careful analysis is merely a tool for smart and experience-rich humans to use when making marketing decisions. Nothing more.

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