U.S. CMOs Prioritize Innovation

U.S. CMOs are more confident than their peers in other regions, and they believe that a primary role of marketing is to embrace and lead disruptive innovation, according to a global survey.

These marketing leaders see emerging technologies as the top opportunity for marketing in the next two to three years, according to Dentsu Aegis Network’s first annual CMO Survey. Additionally, U.S. CMOs report that their role is increasingly tied to the strategic drivers of the business. 

Advertisers are not seeking innovation for innovation’s sake, but rather innovation that drives ROI, says Jon Kovalcik, executive vice president, Dentsu Aegis Network, global business lead for General Motors’ Maven. 

“That lowers cost-per-acquisition, reaches a new segment, and ultimately makes their marketing more effective,”  Kovalcik tells Marketing Daily. “We are seeing this across many successful brands, including Maven, where innovative thinking is embedded in the brand’s culture.”



Despite rumors to the contrary, U.S. CMOs stand out as having a much more positive view of their agency partners than CMOs in many other markets. Admitting challenges, 42% of U.S. CMOs agree that their agencies are “strong” at delivering integrated solutions across the marketing mix — four times higher than non-U.S. CMOs. And one-third of U.S. CMOs say their agencies are “strong” at delivering performance pricing, efficiency and partnering to drive long-term execution, which is up to three times higher than non-U.S. CMOs.

The survey highlights the key challenges of 1,000 chief marketing officers across 10 top global markets. It dives into a variety of issues facing marketers such as difficulties connecting with consumers, the dynamics of working with agencies, data regulation fears and new barriers for growth.

CMOs indicate budgets are growing steadily. In fact, 69% of U.S. CMOs say they expect their budgets to rise this year, compared to 61% of CMOs in other markets. Only 16% say they expect their budgets to fall.

The survey findings also show that a rising profile and responsibilities can bring the potential for tension in the C-suite. Forty-eight percent of U.S. CMOs say that competition with other leaders in their organization is one of their key internal challenges — much higher than the 34% of non-U.S. CMOs who report facing the same problem.

Growing budgets put pressure on CMOs to deliver results. Fifty-eight percent say the “primary role” of marketing is to deliver growth. This mandate is rated more highly than other important roles, such as developing customer experiences (55%) and effective brand management (51%). Non-U.S. CMOs are even more adamant about marketing’s role in delivering growth. Sixty-five percent of non-U.S. CMOs cite it, as do 64% of Eurozone CMOs (Germany, France, Italy and Spain) and 63% in the U.K.

U.S. respondents have a greater appetite for people-based marketing initiatives than other regions. 

For example, 83% agree that in order to maximize consumer engagement in the next two to three years they need to be able to use data to reach real people — higher than quality content (71%) or social purpose (69%).

Overall, U.S. CMOs are most confident in their approach to data — 85% agree that they have a “clear data strategy.” 

CMOs all over the world are more inclined to see big platforms, such as Facebook and WeChat, as frenemies rather than opportunities. In the U.S. market, a greater percentage of CMOs say they see such platforms as a risk (65%), rather than as an opportunity for partnership (49%). Indeed, U.S. CMOs are most alarmed by the dominance of large platforms of all markets surveyed. Among non-U.S. CMOs, only 44% see them as a critical risk.

“There’s a clear shift, as senior marketers adapt to a digital economy characterized by customer-led demand, near-perfect competition and where competitive advantage rests in how well you know your customers,” says Nigel Morris, chief strategy and innovation officer at Dentsu Aegis Network.

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