Predictions 2018: 5 ways the CMO role will change

Marketing analysts and technology predict what the changing role of the chief marketing officer will look like in 2018

Experts warn that as pressure mounts to deliver more business growth and meet customer expectations against a backdrop of tighter budgets and economic conditions, the role of the CMO will need to rapidly evolve in 2018.

According to Forrester’s 2018 CMO Predictions, growth defines next year’s core marketing narrative, with CMOs expecting further disruption and an even faster pace of change driven by customer needs and rapid advances in technology. This will intensify pressure on CMOs in the New Year to prove their mettle as catalysts for change or suffer the effects of organisational complacency.

For Forrester VP and research director, Michael Barnes, 2018 will favour marketing leaders who take aggressive action and drive growth and innovation.

“How can you step up? Fight complacency and broaden the scope of your remit to match the demands of empowered customers,” he says.

By the end of next year, Forrester expects nearly half of CMOs globally – and an even higher percentage in Australia – to go further in leading their firms’ customer experience efforts. This means CMOs need to rethink the way brand and CX teams collaborate.

“CMOs need to start to further break down the silos between brand and CX teams to ensure customer experiences align with brand promises,” Barnes says.

Chief growth officers will replace CMOs

One of Forrester’s key predictions is that 2018 will signal the rise of the CGO to replace ineffectual CMOs. It’s a trend driven by CEOs facing a stronger need to install executives with broader remints who can lead a force of change during slower economic growth.

Globally, brands like Coca Cola have already scrapped the CMO position entirely in favour of a CGO, and Forrester suggests it’s a burgeoning trend CMOs can only abate by leading strategic growth initiatives.

“In 2018, CMOs will either step up as a leader of growth or quietly cede influence to another c-suite member, such as a chief growth officer,” Barnes says.

For CMOs to win the trust of CEOs and earn their place at the boardroom table, Sonder Communications founding partner, Angus Frazer, advises leaders to take on more commercial responsibility and accountability for revenue.

“Simply alluding to vague brand value strategies is not enough for the modern CMO, who has entered an era of extreme accountability,” Frazer says. “CMOs will be required to be far more answerable for revenue growth and the identification of new revenue streams.”

According to Frazer, CMOs should also expect to carry the expectation of ‘exponential efficiency’ in 2018 more than ever. He describes this as marketing continuing to improve its efficiency and cement itself as a vital force for commercial growth.

“CMOs will be under pressure more than ever to find new, innovative ways to unlock and exploit the greatest value from their own media and marketing assets,” he says. “This will involve making better use of owned media assets, better value extraction from partner businesses using owned media and, where appropriate, the profitable and responsible monetisation of owned media assets.”

Anaplan A/NZ marketing manager, Stefano Masiello also see greater emphasis placed on results, not only in terms of return on marketing investment, but also the ongoing affect through the business.

“The focus will move from MQL [marketing qualified lead] to sale, taking into account the cost of sale, margin and profitability,” he says. “By correctly measuring the numbers, marketing will have greater accountability and in turn, proof of value.”

Holistic brand management

Another new reality setting in is CMOs better managing brands holistically, ensuring consistency between brand promise and the experience delivered. This means optimising ad spend and reinvesting in high frequency, emotion rich, connected experiences – a mandate for the CMO to speak fluent CX.

One of the ways this is materialising is through the digital advertising supply chain shake-up. In 2017, it started with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Chase, and moving forward to next year experts agree other CMOs will feel an onus to achieve more while cleaning up the media supply chain. 

“A year ago, P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard made what was unquestionably the most influential speech of the year for brand marketers,” Inskin general manager for Australia, Matt Newcomb, comments. “In it, he told CMOs they would need to get into the weeds and help clean up the media supply chain.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress in the last 12 months, but equally, there remains much to do. Ad validation and quality assurance remains top of the list: Is my ad brand safe, viewable and seen by a human?  As we head through 2018, marketers will not just need to satisfy these hygiene factors but also begin to ask effectiveness questions - what impact did my ad have on my brand?”

At the same time, increasing demand for transparency across various levels within business will mean CMOs need to be ready to look at adtech and martech in a more holistic way.

“No doubt, adtech and martech are still existing in silos for many brands as they were brought into a company’s marketing mix with different goals and management objectives,” MediaMath country manager for A/NZ, Yun Yip, says. “Marketers today must look at how adtech and martech can exist in a more holistic way to target the right consumers.

“We will see more and more marketers bringing the two together and deploying it in-house, creating more seamless and synchronised customer experiences across touchpoints and channels.”

Increased CIO/CMO collaboration

The feverish pace of technology changes shows no signs of subsiding in 2018. As a result, Forrester predicts CMOs and CIOs will need to collaborate more closely to drive martech strategy and monitor technology budgets more responsibly in the face of increased budget responsibility.

“The roles of the CIO and the CMO have never been more important to that of an organisation than in 2018,” Public Media chief digital and technology officer, Jason Tonelli, claims.  “In 2017, we found there was a lot of discovery of what customers have available to them in terms of technology, and through this, the coming together of information technology teams and the marketing teams to collaborate and ideate on infrastructure solutions that drive business growth have come to the fore.”

Read more: How a CMO, CIO and CFO data alliance is helping Tatts Group transform its digital marketing game

Read more: Why CMO-CIO collaboration is vital to HCF’s marketing transformation plans

Read more: 6 ways Mercer’s CMO and CIO are addressing customer-led transformation – together

According to Tonelli, single adtech and martech solutions such as Oracle, IBM, Salesforce and Microsoft will all have a bigger and expanded role to play in these conversations in the New Year. 

“In addition, CMOs will look to companies such as Google and Adobe to work with and collaborate on projects that see the core business infrastructure be leveraged further into advertising platforms to create richer advertising moments and storytelling,” he adds.

Up next: Two more game-changing trends that will transform the CMO's role in 2018

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