What the CMO Knows: A New Series of Insights from Nielsen

By CMO Village Archives
Cover image for  article: What the CMO Knows:  A New Series of Insights from Nielsen

Eric Solomon, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Nielsen Watch, poses a sobering comment in the kick-off to a new series of reports on the role of Chief Marketing Officers and the results of their efforts.  "We are awash in data and should be living in a nirvana of actionable insights," he writes in the first report's cover letter.  "The reality, however, seems disconnected from this promise."  The comment is supported by findings such as: "Less than 25% of CMOs say they are 'very confident' that they have the right technology in place to achieve their marketing goals."  Or, that many in the past 18 months "have spoken up about their concerns with digital advertising, calling the supply chain 'broken' and pointing to high incidence of fraud and lack of brand safety."

The surveys and one-to-one interviews of primarily director-level and above marketers reveal that search and social are still ranked most important and effective in digital media channels, with TV the highest ranked of traditional channels.  But they still champion radio above all for weekly reach.  In addition, 82% of the participants anticipate increasing their digital ad spend over the next 12 months versus just 30% anticipating putting more dollars into traditional media channels. 

As campaign goals, customer acquisition followed by brand building are the highest-ranked objectives.  But what of the actual CMO's goals and experiences in achieving work and thus career results?  Aside from quoting Darwin, the report reveals "a dichotomy between companies that have responded to this increasingly customer-first, omnichannel reality and those that have hesitated due to organizational roadblocks, 'old-fashioned' CMOs, institutional knowledge gaps and technology limitations."  (In his own meetings and focus groups, MediaVillage founder Jack Myers has observed similar challenges and has spoken of the career path issues for CMOs -- from the need to attend to almost every facet of the industry except actual marketing to tech decisions to HR issues challenging the staffing funnel for hiring and retaining CMOs in our industry.)

Nielsen's 50-plus pages of results range from sentiments about "walled gardens" such as Facebook, Google and Amazon (spoiler alert: 25% agree with the statement that they are "satisfied with my relationships" there but many strong opinions on specifics were voiced) to almost complete consensus on media owners/publisher partners being responsible for ROI on their own properties.  The issues and concerns around quality data also come shining through via verbatims such as, "I'm told the quality of our data is good, but how do we really know?"  Meanwhile, 82% of participants are crystal clear that Reach and Frequency Measurement are very or extremely important to their marketing efforts.  As part of that same question on measurement technology, Nielsen reports that, "Marketing mix modeling continues to hold its own, which demonstrates the need for a holistic macro-level analysis of media planning, spending and performance metrics that reflect internal and external factors (e.g., market dynamics, pricing changes, seasonality, etc.).  It remains very important for measuring traditional media."

As part of its conclusion, the Nielsen report notes that, "The ability to quantify ROI and demonstrate real business results is an imperative as is the need for continuous improvement in marketing performance.  It justifies the investment in advertising, not to mention the media, data, technology, resources and vendors that support it.  The marketers we spoke with and surveyed made it clear that it's not more data they are looking for, rather better insight."

Solomon's cover letter also mentions that, "At Nielsen, our job is to provide the science behind what's next."  This robust report and analysis certainly allows many conclusions to be drawn -- touching on topics from agency relationships to trade spend -- and it is peppered with compelling call-outs and insights.

 Download the entire report from Nielsen here.

All sources: The Nielsen CMO Report 2018

Photo credit: Taylor Nicole/Unsplash

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