Technology is something of a double-edged sword for marketers. There are always shiny new objects (AI! VR! Blockchain!) that present new opportunities to wow consumers. But at the same time, there are just as many new challenges.

It’s created more competition for consumers’ limited attention—including from consumers themselves, given the proliferation of social media. Technology also enables brands to move into other industries more easily. CVS has been a pharmacy for more than 50 years; in December, it announced plans to acquire Aetna.

At the same time, it’s catalyzed the marketing landscape to change at lightning speed. Companies like Dollar Shave Club, Uber, and Airbnb demonstrate that every industry is disruptible, giving the consumer more control. Still, no matter how much the industry changes, Chief Marketing Officers largely still define their role the same way they always have. According to the Dentsu Aegis Network, which recently surveyed 1,000 CMOs from all over the world, 64% consider delivering business growth to be their top priority.

Dealing with a deluge of data

The overwhelming majority of CMOs think the key to delivering business growth is building more lasting relationships with customers.

When it comes to emerging technology, marketers must be careful not to let the tail wag the dog. In other words, they can’t prioritize new preoccupations and lose sight of the big picture: building and growing their brands in the long term. Marketers should always consider new technology in that context.

Of course, many of these opportunities come from data. Dentsu Aegis found that 29% of CMOs think the top opportunity lies in using data to reach real people, rather than proxies or segments, within the next two or three years. And 79% believe that will lead to stronger relationships, their underlying main objective.

Dentsu Aegis CMO survey - Data

Data also presents its own challenges. Following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) in the European Union and California’s subsequent privacy laws, 60% of marketers believe data regulation will make it more difficult to build a direct relationship with consumers. Even more, especially in the retail and pharmaceutical sectors, already believe it’s harder to extract data.

Modern marketers place the biggest emphasis on building their own in-house data science capabilities, rather than buying data. That means hiring more specialist talent and developing training programs for existing employees, and of course, making better of use of their existing data.

Dentsu Aegis CMO survey - Data opportunities

Assessing agency relationships

Consumer brands aren’t the only ones being disrupted. Advertising agencies are, too, as more consultancies step in. In fact, Ad Age’s annual ranking of the 10 largest agency companies in the world had four of them: Accenture, PwC, IBM and Deloitte.

According to Dentsu Aegis’ survey, 29% of CMOs plan to work with more consultancies in the future, while one-third intend to reduce their number of agency partners. Costs are one reason. CMOs are also skeptical of agencies’ ability to deliver fully integrated solutions across the entire marketing mix.

Dentsu Aegis CMO survey - agencies

Over the past four years, David Taylor, Chairman-CEO of Procter & Gamble, has cut agency and production costs by $1 billion annually. He plans to cut another $200 million over the next two years. And P&G is still the world’s largest advertiser.

Additionally, 52% of CMOs plan to bring more of their marketing capabilities in-house.

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