A global survey of 1000 CMOs and senior-level marketers across 10 countries has revealed that marketing investment is on an upward curve.
Dentsu Aegis Network’s report, How Brands Win in the Digital Economy: CMO Survey 2018, found that six in 10 marketers expect marketing budgets to rise in the next 12 months.
But it’s budget increases among larger corporates that stand out, with 43 per cent of respondents planning for increases of 5 per cent or more, and just one in 20 expecting to see budgets fall.
Confidence is highest among technology, automotive and financial services CMOs.
The survey also suggests CMOs are facing significant challenges as they attempt to balance the opportunity to build new capabilities and enhance their role, with the risks and challenges driven by data and the digital economy.
Opportunities in data tempered with caution
CMOs in Australia cite insufficient control over digital investments or programs across the company as the biggest obstacle to delivering their marketing strategy, according to the report.
Lack of integration across all elements of the customer experience ranked as the second biggest internal challenge, followed by an inability to transform the business quickly enough.
The study also found that 71 per cent of Australian CMOs identify the evolution of data usage to reach real people as the biggest strategic opportunity over the next two to three years.
Data was also recognised as presenting challenges, with 68 per cent of Australian CMOs agreeing that while there is now more consumer data available, extracting insight is harder.
Content is still king for many, with 72 per cent of local marketers identifying high-quality content development as a key priority for their business.
Geared to deliver growth
Australian survey respondents view the primary role of the marketing function as ‘delivering business growth’ – expanding on this to say that securing long-term customer relationships is the strongest way that marketing can achieve this.
However, the way brands connect with customers is critical, with consumers’ intolerance for advertising identified as a major barrier to building better relationships with customers over the next two to three years in Australia.
Making a broader social contribution was recognised as less of a priority locally, with only 60 per cent of Australian CMOs identifying ‘connecting our brand proposition to positive societal impact’ as important, compared with 70 per cent globally.
Simon Ryan, CEO at Dentsu Aegis Network in Australia and New Zealand, said the outlook in Australia is largely positive, with marketers geared for growth and looking to build on the marketing function’s role in delivering business outcomes.
“The importance of working with the right partners to drive growth is reinforced also, with the complexities of data and the digital economy requiring specialist capability to maximise opportunities,” he said.
“It’s interesting to note that Australian marketers identify consumers’ intolerance for advertising as a major barrier to building better relationships with customers.
“As an industry, we need to come up with new ways to engage consumers and leverage data to overcome this by ensuring messages are genuinely relevant to the audience.”
Nigel Morris, chief strategy and innovation officer at Dentsu Aegis Network, said there is a clear shift underway, as senior marketers adapt to a digital economy characterised by customer-led demand, near-perfect competition and where competitive advantage rests in how well you know your customers.
“CMO perspectives are moving away from short-term investment in tech, apps and platforms towards what really matters – digital transformation that orientates the whole business around customers,” he said.
“Data is central to creating deeper customer relationships and understanding, and the most successful marketers have recognised that the key to strategic business growth is in their hands.