The Future of Marketing Is In Its CMOs

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Cover image for  article: The Future of Marketing Is In Its CMOs

In his comment on my prior post, industry legend Ed Papazian writes: "Bill, while I agree with what you are saying we must consider what many advertiser CMOs actually think about media buying. Exceptions notwithstanding, most CMOs believe that how their brands are positioned and the attendant 'creative' executions are the whole ball game. Accordingly, they insist on their brands being forced into massive, corporate upfront TV buys with low CPMs being the primary consideration. In effect, they are saying---and not without some reason behind it, that if you buy enough eyeballs the commercials will select from that mass of 'impressions' those who are most receptive to the sales pitch the brand is making … In addition, 45% of linear TV ad spend is allocated to news, sports and specials and the preference for such content far outweighs targeting considerations. So, a great deal of the available ad dollars are spoken for. Until you get the advertisers to reconsider their old ways you are stymied."

Many old ways have not changed during my career. But now the public has taken charge and it is driving the bus.

Trying to change as little as possible, marketers have shifted some of those massive Upfront TV buys that Ed mentions to massive digital buys.

Perhaps the tendency to want to use as few media suppliers as possible is regarded as a higher form of efficiency, a simplification of the supply chain. However, this tends away from creativity, because that rare element is distributed across media regardless of size, and spending only in big pots will miss a lot of high ROAS and branding effects opportunities.

Although the newest media are being let in, and in a big way, the biggest thing that has not yet changed is the misconception that simply throwing money at it at the lowest possible CPM is all there is.

Individual marketers lie on a spectrum ranging from future forward to future reverse, but they all take their time introducing changes. Each change is a risk. The game is easy enough to lose without adding incremental risk.

Like Hollywood auteurs, marketers rely mostly on their own intuitions to position and target brands and lay out the creative brief. And they tend to be good at it.

They like research -- when it helps them get new ideas or defend past actions. The more inspired the marketer, the more empowered they are by taking advantage of science and technology. Research can help a marketer think Big Ideas.

From what Ed is saying, marketing and CMOs especially will take a great leap forward when CMOs broaden their lens from creative to include an understanding of the levers they can pull in media.

Targeting is the easiest media lever to pull. Until Apollo/TRA, the segmentation personas based on attitudinal data among product users in MRI/Simmons-type surveys were the theoretical targets, but these necked down to sex/age (sometimes also income) for guarantees from networks, as Ed points out. The theoretical targets were used to white list networks, dayparts, programs, magazines, radio format types, outdoor and to help support broad planning allocations to certain media subtypes, again based on MRI/Simmons-type surveys.

But in the activation, sex/age/(income) CPMs were the decider. Even when this veered from the planning decisions.

To some extent, all of that work going into the crosstabs of MRI/Simmons-type studies mostly helped the CMO and brand leaders position the brand and write the creative brief but didn't have as much impact on media selection.

This has changed in the last 15 years. TACODA had demonstrated that people could be targeted based on the sites they had visited, lining up in some cases with the MRI/Simmons-based personas. Apollo/TRA showed that purchasers of specific products and brands could be directly targeted even with non-addressable media, just using content targeting based on product purchase data, and this for the first time was shown to increase Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).

Since then, the world has exploded with many variations on the sustainable TRA model, the earlier marketing-mix modeling evolving to catch up with singlesource, multitouch attribution copying singlesource in digital with simplified rules based on first, last and interim touch categories. Today targeting is being used in digital and in addressable TV as well as direct mail, and the direct response modus operandi of testing new lists has jumped media type from direct mail to all screen media.

We are almost there in targeting. Most brands are discovering the optimal targets for their brand based on purchase histories, with most practitioners eventually rediscovering the swing or movable middle effect: it's best to reach people who have bought your brand before, but not loyally.

Some leading brands are now tuning carefully into the optimal targets based on the resonance of their motivations with the motivations embedded in the specific ad -- plus being part of the movable middle for that brand. The motivational targeting happening today at RMT, Reset Digital and Semasio is actually welded to the CMO's pre-existing segmentation personas.

CMOs will be excited to see how learning the right media switches to pull, and when to pull them, adds more to their career success than they would have expected.

They will be intrigued by being able to use digital and addressable TV to target the personas they helped create and reinforce the strength of these personas and their causal linkage to brand purchase by adding targeting data based on individual motivations. And they will be delighted to see how context effects tuned to individual ads exalts their personal creativity.

The CMO evolving from a meta-creative strategist into a meta-creative-media-strategist is the secret to the upside future of marketing and of CMOs.

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