Ad Tech & The Roles of CMOs

Marketing Innovation

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Ad Tech & The Roles of CMOs

Marketing Innovation

Listening to top CMOs talk in the RampUp panel, CMOs: Time to Learn a Little about Ad Tech, one thing is clear: the role of the CMO varies greatly. “What makes the CMO so interesting and so challenging is if you were to pluck 10 CMOs from this room, I guarantee you none of them have the same job description,” said Peter Horst, former CMO at Hershey.

Some take on the role of the great integrator, while others disruptor, and all of them have developed into high level strategic thinkers. Still, their on ad tech advice for other CMOs has implications for marketers everywhere.

Taking on technology

With the development of new marketing technologies and expansion of data usage, today’s CMO goes far beyond just brand management.

“It used to be that I spent 80% of my time on the creative and 20% on the back end, but now I spend most of my time on the plumbing,” said Alexandra Morehouse, CMO of Banner Health.

Still, the ad tech and data these CMOs work with vary greatly by industry and company culture. As a result, there’s no one strategy or technology that will work for every marketing team. Instead, CMOs need to consider the specific needs of their business when purchasing new technologies or data.

“Think about what you need for your business and have that dictate the data and technologies rather than the other way around. If you don’t, you won’t get what you want and it will be expensive. It behooves you to take your time and call that planning,” said Deb Tomlin, CMO of CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer.

Think cross-team

Technology and data are not unique to marketing, and the CMO can’t handle everything alone. One of the best ways to make big changes is to work with teams across the enterprise.

“Where I’m spending a lot of time is partnering across my entire enterprise—whether that’s my CIO or head of product or pricing—because we have all of that [data] and how does it work together?” said Tomlin.

Meanwhile at Hershey, according to Horst, “we had a wake-up call where we had so many data initiatives going on around the company, we suddenly realized we had to put a rope around all of them… or you could end up in a world where things weren’t fitting together.”

What worked for him was to ban the word “ownership,” and allow people to mix their skills together by bringing in diverse teams.

Keep the pieces simple

Overall, while embracing a complex data and adtech ecosystem and working on multifaceted, enterprise endeavors, the key is to keep each piece simple.

“When you’re new to [being a CMO], you think more stuff is better, so more data, more functionality is better, but the opposite is true,” said Morehouse. “What’s the minimum viable data set that you could use? Just land that data and get that going first.”

For Anthony Marino, CMO of threadUP, when the fancy charts and elaborate data visualizations come up, it’s important to “step back and ask very simple business questions that can cut through the hypnosis that sets in when the charts come up.”

When all the pieces are pared down to serve their specific purpose, complex projects become more efficient, more effective, and easier to manage.

For more on how CMOs can tackle today’s ad tech challenges, check out our CMO Solutions Guide: Making data-driven marketing work. Or watch the session for yourself below!

For the rest of the #RampUp17 sessions, click here.