AI To Calm Roller-Coaster Budgets And ROI: Gartner CMO Study

Investments of media have increased year-over-year, from 25.6% to 27.9%, as CMOs seek to drive near-term growth, according to Gartner's 2024 CMO Spend Survey released Monday.

Paid media spend grew to 27.9% of budgets this year, but the amount spent fell across marketing technology, labor and agencies. 

The 395 global CMOs who participated in the study also say they continue to live in an "era of less" -- meaning that in the four years preceding the pandemic, average marketing budgets were 11% of overall revenue. In the four years since, they have dropped to 8.2%.

Only 24% of CMOs say they have sufficient budget to execute their 2024 strategy.

CEOs expect growth in both revenue and profitability. The several years of inflationary pressure have resulted in 55% of CEOs expecting a higher rate of return on internal investments in 2024 and 2025, according to Gartner.



Survey results also suggest that CEOs believe they can gain growth through artificial intelligence (AI), which has helped to reduce reliance on agencies and labor.

The vast majority of CMOs participating in the survey said they are investing in AI, with only 5% saying the technology is not an investment priority in 2024.

More than three-quarters of CMOs report AI -- generative and otherwise -- expect to deliver a positive impact to marketing in 2024.

They see the ability to increase productivity, as well as ability to improve segmentation, ad targeting and personalization.

The good news for search advertising -- it took the No. 1 spot in the survey for spend in digital channels at 13.6%.

Search advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) account for 24% of total digital spend, with search advertising displacing social advertising as the largest digital channel investment and topping investment priorities across all online and offline channels.

Tools like Google’s Performance Max or Microsoft’s Performance Max supported by AI campaign capabilities offers marketers with relatively small budgets an edge.

Social advertising came in No. 2 at 12.2%, and display advertising ranked No. 3 at 10.7%.

Email marketing attracts even less budget, securing only 7.1% of CMOs’ total digital spend. But CMOs rank it highly as a driver of conversion, loyalty and advocacy. As the realities of marketing’s cookieless future shift into view, CMOs’ regard for email is likely to grow.

Events are back and are flourishing. Event marketing ranked No. 1 at 17.1% in investments in offline channels, while sponsorship ranked No. 2 at 16.4%, and TV ranked No. 3 at 16%.

Gartner released the findings from the survey at its 2024 Marketing Symposium/Xpo in London. 

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