Taking the temperature of marketers: Advertising Week New York

Taking the temperature at Advertising Week

September in New York is on the cusp of seasons, just getting over the summer heat as it heads into a crisp fall. Luckily, by the time we hit the Marketing Society’s US exploratory lunch during Advertising Week, the climate had cooled down. Which was handy because if you are acquainted with Advertising Week, you will know that:

a) whilst ‘conveniently located in the Times Square area’ it’s not exactly a short distance between sessions
b) you’d have to be a time/space traveller to attend all sessions back to back in various locations
c) the array of deeply interesting sessions and people to meet is as never ending and dazzling as a Vegas buffet awaiting to be consumed.

New tech, new challenges
One of the interesting sessions at Advertising Week 2016 was hosted by Kristi Argyilan, SVP Senior Vice President of Media and Guest Engagement at US retail giant Target. The session explored how marketers are now facing a new challenge where the marriage between marketing and technology is creating new expectations. We heard how marketers and brands that win are the ones that embrace change, adapt quickly and effectively blend marketing and technology. Kirsty highlighted that in this environment of constantly innovating, listening to customers and using data and technology to change the game, the next big challenge is measurement.

It was in this salubrious setting that the Marketing Society hosted a lunch in partnership with Gain Theory, aimed at exploring the challenges that we have as marketers and facilitate the conversation to help inspire bolder leadership. We were also treated to some insight from Thomas Barta – author of The 12 Powers of Marketing –into the frustrations felt by marketers and what it takes to be a true marketing leader.

First off the challenges. We kicked off with a round table introduction with each senior marketing leader citing their current major challenge. What was thrown up wasn’t by any stretch new – how to leverage multiple agencies, synchronize messaging globally, inspire the marriage of data and the end consumer and a myriad of challenges around content, digital and social. However, the biggest thread was measurement. Be it the quantification of value that marketing brings to the table from an internal perspective and inspiring global marketing teams to champion that value, or the basic requirement for ROI, measurement and optimization of marketing efforts in the first place. It’s no surprise that measurement is still a pain point for marketers. After all, with a consumer that travels through a ‘disrupted’ path to purchase, harnessing the data that is spat out from various channels to then extract meaningful insights is not a task that many are adept with. Couple that with a firehose of data, measurement jargon, multiple answers to a single business question, seemingly ‘slow’ insights and above all the barriers within our own organization and you can see where marketers feel they are set up to fail where measurement is concerned. Simply put by one of the lunch delegates ‘quantifying the value of marketing either internally or externally is a challenge’.

Entering the value creation zone
So, how do those challenges sync up with the frustrations we feel as marketers when it comes into our perceived value within the organization and our career aspirations? According to Thomas Barta, 71% of senior marketers believe that their business impact is high but just 44% are satisfied with their career paths. This led to some head nodding around the table. Barta pointed out that in order to create marketing success, marketers need to hit the ‘value creation zone’ – a place where we create value for customers (products, services and experiences that meet their needs) value for the company (revenue and profit) and value for ourselves (greater influence and better careers).  

As Manjiry Tamhane, Global CEO at Gain Theory eloquently said ‘There is no other industry (as marketing) that has had to face as many changes at such a pace. It’s a new world. We need to tackle some of the old world structures and processes to meet the new world challenges and expectations. We need to be prepared to change the game to meet new demands’

In relation to validating our value as marketers, it’s about being brave to have an evidence-based conversation with the CFO or CEO to understand what it is that marketing needs to deliver. At the end of the day we’re only going to get revenue from our customers so framing the conversation around the value creation zone is key.

You could say that the temperature we read from the US marketers around the table felt like it was hotting up. But we did sense that whilst we are certainly feeling the heat, there’s no better time to be in marketing like now where the opportunities to turn challenges into wins are aplenty.