Commentary

How Insights Get Stuck Between People, Agencies & Tech (And How to Unstick Them)

As much as the industry would like to believe that it’s becoming more efficient, CMOs still equate more staff, more agency relationships, and more technologies with more power. Those types of internal fiefdoms might temporarily feed CMOs’ egos, but they also create unnecessary roadblocks to the flow of insights and information between business units. 

When different teams, agencies, and technologies work on separate parts of the same problem, what’s learned along the way rarely moves beyond the group that learned it. Consider, for instance, a brand whose CMO tasks internal marketing teams, along with agency partners, with a multi-channel digital campaign, and each is responsible for a different marketing channel.

The Facebook team might glean insights about the effectiveness of carousel ads. Architects, they may discover, click on images of jeans 65% more than other audiences. Meanwhile, the external search agency may know that men who search for diamonds are disproportionately interested in motorcycles. These insights would be valuable to the display team, which could begin targeting architects and men who like diamonds, and the creative team, which would produce ads incorporating jeans and diamonds.

Brands that don’t have integrated views of how consumers interact with them are likely to subject shoppers to redundant, irrelevant and occasionally contradictory experiences. Shoppers may be exposed to identical creative efforts over and over, diminishing the ads’ effectiveness. Or they may be targeted for something they’ve already bought. There’s no need to subject a camping enthusiast who has looked at a two-burner portable stove online and then purchased the stove in a retail store to additional outdoor stove ads. 

Sharing information across marketing units should be part of an organization’s DNA. Unfortunately, it’s the exception rather than the rule. Organizations seeking to become leaders in information sharing will need to shift their organization’s mindset.

According to Peter Caputa, CEO of information integration firm Databox, “Product teams are the new marketers. Marketers are the new salespeople. And salespeople are the new customer service.” I would add to that, “Technologies are the new data analysts.” For these statements to be true, teams should not only be collaborating and working more closely; they should be working from the same playbook. 

CMOs don’t necessarily need to get rid of staff, agencies and technologies, but they will need to use them more strategically. This means a top-down, holistic view of sales and marketing that removes the siloes and data blocks that no longer serve brands, and where insights gained from one channel necessarily benefit others. 

Central to this evolved structure would be a means of gathering, analyzing and sharing data insights with the teams, agencies and technologies responsible for the various marketing channels. Emerging artificial intelligence and autonomous technologies seem to be the likely candidate for this role.

Chances are that as CMOs shift to an open marketing function, defined by more access to previously siloed marketing information, they’ll experience upfront resistance from various data holders. Thinking as organization leaders, CMOs will also have to sell in a new vision: hand over data gathering and analysis to technology, get insights faster and free up teams to focus on higher-level creative and strategy. 

Ideally, centralizing data analysis and insights, breaking down siloes between teams and agencies once and for all, and creating dialogue between disconnected technologies will become the enlightened CMO’s new and more evolved power play.

1 comment about "How Insights Get Stuck Between People, Agencies & Tech (And How to Unstick Them)".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, March 9, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.

    Eric:  Agree with your main points.  I'd like to suggest several additions.  First the simple one--be sure to invite "creatives" to the data party all along the path.  Second, and decidedly more difficult is getting critical trend data to not just the C-suite but also the Board Room.

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