Every few years we marketers think we have digital figured out. First it was websites, then it was about eBusiness strategy, then came social, and more recently, we're all about mobile. These are all good things, to be sure, but conquering any one of these – or all of them together – still misses the larger point: Digital disruption is bigger than any of them on their own, and it is nowhere near finished turning the marketing and advertising world upside down.
Consider the Super Bowl. Every year the big game captures more eyeballs and, along with them, more ad dollars. Some point to continued TV spend as evidence that people are in denial about the role of digital, as Adobe did with its clever spoof on Super Bowl ads this year. But note that some of the most prominent ads in Super Bowl 2013 encouraged an expressly digital component – from Budweiser's name-the-pony campaign to Oreo's crowd-pleasing Cream or Cookie campaign, tagged with "Choose your side on Instagram @OREO." The most elaborate of these was the Coke Chase, a Twitter-based real-time voting campaign that earned @cocacola nearly a thousand more Twitter followers on game day, according to Twittercounter.com.
These are worthy – and relatively cheap – forays into making TV ads more, rather than less, relevant in a digitally disruptive era. But these all miss the broader point about the power of digital. Digital won't just disrupt the way brands communicate with consumers, it will afford those brands the chance to build a direct digital relationship with those consumers. If they don't blow it, standing idle while someone else grabs that relationship first.
Forrester’s CMO Group fielded a survey in December in partnership with Advertising Age, to get a handle on what CMOs and marketing leaders are making a strategic priority in 2011. The article appears in Advertising Age’s CMO Strategy column.
The results? Fifty-two percent of respondents said that effectively maximizing the marketing budget and developing a culture that fosters and supports marketing innovation rank at or near the top of their priority list. Thirty-eight percent said that optimizing the structure of the marketing organization to be adaptable will be important in 2011. These survey results reflect the fact that CMOs are scrambling to stay ahead of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, media, and technology but are also striving to achieve the accountability demanded in lean times. Consumers’ rapidly changing reality commands agility and speed, but business realities command investments that are grounded in data.
Why is innovation job No. 1 in 2011? Most CMOs realize the importance of being proactive in how they incorporate new ideas into their plans. Since marketing innovation is about identifying and capitalizing on new business opportunities, CMOs cannot just foster creativity — they must push for evolution across all four marketing P’s, especially distribution and pricing, where opportunities for innovation are often overlooked. Flagging innovation as a priority in this survey signals to us that CMOs are saying they want to know what new approaches they can take to satisfy their growth imperatives. Forrester’s research on this topic will focus on demonstrating exactly how CMOs successfully target new consumer groups and build new offerings for existing customers that are grounded in customer intelligence.