Marketers debate how transparent digital marketing practices raise risk of short-term thinking

Marketing leaders from Nude by Nature, Trafalgar Tours, Vision Critical and The Hallway debate the programmatic's impact on creativity, risk-taking and the marketing budget


Tackling the marketing budgeting challenge

What the programmatic discussion also highlighted was the wider challenge marketers are facing to balance short-term results with long-term brand positioning in the face of more transparent media buying and measurement. This, in turn, is impacting how marketers manage the modern marketing budget.

The latest CMO of Tomorrow research produced by ADMA and Oracle Marketing Cloud showed access to budget as the number one challenge to accelerating digital marketing efforts and innovation.

Riley said 50-page marketing plans have been abandoned in favour of short-form and more flexible strategies. “CEOs just want to see what the bottom-line is, what the opportunities are and head towards that quickly,” she said.

“We’re delivering these plans in short order form but in the same strategic way we would have in the past. This means starting with your audience, insights and opportunity, objectives, what you’re trying to achieve, the integrated marketing plan for that, if it’s more digital and what the activity is then putting that forward.”

What has happened over the last few years is that budgets have then been recut up to 10 times throughout the year, Riley continued. This is forcing marketing to be more agile.

“You need to keep one eye on the long game, but be very clear on the short-term piece as well,” she said. “It’s silly to design a plan just for long term as it takes too long for an integrated campaign to come to life, I really needed to that in a smart, effective way today, then stage two for tomorrow, and so on. If I have to adapt, shorten or enlarge it, it gives me flexibility and nothing has fallen over in the meantime.”

Vision Critical head of marketing, Brittany Wong, said her team knew by May that its annual plan of activities wasn’t going to live up to expectations.

“But we had a plan and needed to execute against it, and to be agile,” she said. “We’re now planning in two-week sprints, with monthly activities, and we’re using SiriusDecisions templates so we can engage on the one-page plan, and focus on objectives and key results.

“Priorities and goals don’t change but the activities change.”

During his time at Shopdirect in the UK, Merriman said the team circumvented an arduous approval process with a $2 million innovation budget. “This meant we could move quickly, and from that we launched our apps, content studio, personalisation engine and it paid dividends,” he said.

Merriman also advocated proof-of-concept as a way to encourage innovation. “If you can put together a smaller amount of investment for a proof-of-concept, that’s a way to minimise risk,” he said. “It’s not often people say no to a proof-of-concept.”

But Hall argued the wider industry has missed the point around marketing ROI.

“The commercial conversations happening in companies are about driving shareholder returns and growth, yet we get distracted by clickthrough rates and attribution,” he said. “We’re not making the link back to what drives growth and shareholder returns. That’s the thing we as an industry need to get an awful lot better at.”

If used correctly, data gives marketers permission to be more innovative, Hall said. “If you use data as a reason to innovative and try different things, it can create a toolset for justifying taking risks,” he added.

At Vision Critical, Wong said marketing runs all new pipeline of up to 10 per cent, giving the team tangible proof of the opportunities it drives. The piece missing is customer retention and long-term metrics.

“Though marketing is a massive part of the revenue quest, that other piece is critical in building customer lifetime value,” she said. “We have to find a way to prove that value and show these metrics matter.”

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