In tough times, CMOs must pick the right tools

Chief marketing officers are battling changing consumer behaviours and a fragmentation of media outlets and platforms. That’s why it’s vital for them to use the right digital tools to extract as much return on investment as possible

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The mission for chief marketing officers (CMOs) has become increasingly difficult in the past few years: they must now connect with their existing and potential customers in a rapidly changing and fragmenting digital landscape.

Fast-changing consumer perceptions and behaviours, harsh economic headwinds, challenging spending habits and noticeably shrinking marketing budgets have combined to put CMOs under even more scrutiny from the C-suite. For instance, Csaba Szabo, managing director EMEA at Integral Ad Science, is in no doubt that CMOs are “in an incredibly tough place at the moment”.

“They are asked to do more with less,” he warns. “That means effective measurement and optimisation are critical to deliver a return on investment while protecting brand reputation.”

[CMOs] are asked to do more with less, that means effective measurement and optimisation is critical to deliver ROI while protecting brand reputation

Of course, as CEOs and CFOs scrutinise their spend across their organisations, signing off on investments in marketing tools might not be a priority. But using data more effectively can improve marketing results, avoid inventory problems and reduce the costs associated with poor decision-making, Szabo suggests.

“Post-pandemic consumer journeys are even more complicated,” he concedes. “So marketers must think about which technologies they use in different channels. Whether it’s a gaming platform, a streaming platform or a social platform, your tools should support you to connect with audiences in a very simple and seamless way.”

Regaining lost control

It’s a task made all the more complex by the rapidly increasing number of channels vying for marketers’ attention. Szabo points to connected TV and online gaming as areas to factor into broader long-term strategies.

There is, though, “immense pressure to drive instant results”, he warns, while the growth of user-generated content on social networks – themselves shifting in popularity – means brands face losing “even more control”.

Implementing tools to guide marketers as they try to connect with consumers in “a very safe and suitable way” is possible, Szabo believes, allowing them and publishers to reach better-informed decisions.

“Measurement and optimisation gives visibility on how your money is being spent,” he explains. “You take the learnings and make educated decisions going forward, like how to reallocate budgets. This eliminates waste and protects reputation.”

Refocusing on ‘responsible media’

Another critical concern for CMOs, says Szabo, is which media to advertise in.

Sustainability, as well as diversity and inclusion, have become far more influential in consumer choices, he adds, meaning marketers need help to decide which outlets and platforms to be seen in. There is a choice to make here, to appear alongside “quality content” and to avoid content with “a higher probability of fake news or misinformation”. Such controversial content might embarrass the brand or have a negative knock-on effect on reputation.

Digital tools with the ability to scan for tone, sentiment and context across articles and videos can make the difference here. These flag up to CMOs and their media agencies areas where they should not place advertising.

“Recent innovations in technologies like IAS’s Total Media Quality suite mean that CMOs have access to the right kind of data and measurement,” Szabo explains. “It gives them the right path to make the right choices.”

Szabo argues that working alongside a third-party partner to automate and transform marketing decisions can ultimately save CMOs money over the longer term. It can also scale advertising activity to reach target audiences and achieve ESG goals. 

IAS has partnered with organisations such as Scope3 and Good-Loop to enable advertisers to measure the carbon emissions generated by their digital ad campaigns. Its brand safety and suitability tools also help CMOs choose content that meets their diversity and inclusion objectives.

“Our own research showed that 94% of UK consumers believe brands should play a role in advocating for environmental causes,” Szabo explains. “And 76% are more likely to have a favourable view of brands that do.

Moving forward, Szabo’s strong belief is that CMOs “aren’t asking for more data”. “They are drowning in data,” he says. “The answer is having more actionable data. Connecting data sets to an understanding of what results a brand, a CMO or a marketing team are trying to achieve gives actionable recommendations. That’s what really improves campaigns.”

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