Ad blocking is seen as a potentially good thing for the ad industry by marketers, although 38% said it could lead to a decline in online marketing, according to the results of a new survey.
The survey, from The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), asked marketers which trends are their top priorities in the year ahead.
Key results revealed:
• Overall, the majority of marketers surveyed (76%) feel ad-blocking will encourage greater creativity; although 38% said it could lead to a decline in online marketing
• When looking at priorities for the year ahead, personalisation (42%), data-driven marketing (37%) and influencer marketing (31%) topped the list
• Technology continues to have a big influence on marketing, and many marketers are feeling the strain; 49% of respondents said that they are under greater pressure to reinvent customer experience as a result of tech disruptors like Uber and Amazon
• This pressure is unsurprising when you consider that one in five businesses (20%) say customer experience is now their business’ primary focus in the year ahead. Marketers are at the centre of this storm, with marketing leading customer strategy for almost a third (32%) of companies
• This is having a positive impact on how marketing is viewed by those in the industry; almost a third (32%) of respondents see marketing as a pathway to senior management
Marketer trends for the year ahead focus on better understanding customers
While personalisation, data-driven marketing and influencer marketing are revealed to be the biggest focus for marketers surveyed, it is evident that new technologies and trends are making an impact. Chatbots, Virtual Reality and short-lived content that is only available for a limited amount of time, are starting to feature on some marketers’ priority lists. However, this is still quite a niche focus, as only 8% or 9% of marketers highlighted these as areas of focus for the year ahead.
The results also showed that ad-blocking is a divisive topic. More than three quarters of marketers (76%) think ad-blocking could be a good thing, as it will force marketers to be more creative about how they engage with customers. However, 38% think it will mean marketers will be less likely to use online marketing.
Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, comments: “Marketers are naturally skilled when it comes to embracing change and new technologies, and they have a natural thirst for creativity. So it was positive to see the majority of respondents rising to the challenge of ad-blocking. It was also encouraging to see that whilst marketers are starting to look at new technologies (like Chatbots and Virtual Reality), the fundamental skills of their profession in terms of delivering more personalised, targeted and influential campaigns, still sit at the core of marketers’ everyday life.”
Tech disruptors turning up the heat for marketers to reinvent customer experience
It is evident from the research that customer experience and technology are still having a major impact on marketers. Marketers recognise that tech disruptors, such as Amazon and Uber, have raised the bar on customer expectation – with almost half (49%) of marketers surveyed feeling the pressure to reinvent customer experience just to keep pace. Customer experience is clearly moving up the business agenda, as it clearly should, with one in five respondents asserting that customer experience is now the primary focus for their organisation, and a further 15% saying they have gone through a major process of transformation in the past year to ensure they stay relevant. Unfortunately, 28% feel they do not have the investment needed to change their customer experience, despite wanting to, and 11% say customer experience is not a main focus of their business.
When looking at who owns customer experience, almost a third of marketers (32%) say marketing leads the strategy on customer engagement within the organisation, and one in five say that there is a clear division between departments. However, this is not always the case; a third (33%) feel the lines between IT, digital and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred, and 22% feel there are more people involved in the customer experience process, which is making it more confusing.
Chris Daly, continues: “I do question the 11% who say that customer experience is not a focus – no matter what business you are in, the customer should always be at the heart of the operation – particularly in today’s customer-led environment. More broadly, however, it’s encouraging to see customer experience is being given the consideration needed at a business level, and that marketing is clearly playing a more strategic role. However, organisations cannot expect to deliver superior customer experience without making the necessary investment.
Marketers have a clear role to play in demonstrating their value to the business, and for making the case for increased investment to meet their organisational goals.”
A race to the top – marketing paves the way to senior management
As customer experience grows increasingly important to the business, it is positive that marketing is being taken more seriously as a career path to senior management:
• 14% of marketers surveyed entered into marketing with the deliberate aim of reaching senior management
• 18% said they did not consider a career path when they entered the marketing industry, but now see themselves moving into senior management as a result of their role
The younger generation of marketers are more likely to have entered into marketing because they see it as a career path to senior management. A quarter of 18-34 year olds chose to enter marketing to further their long-term ambitions, which decreased to 6 or 7% of those over 35. However, a worrying 7% entered the industry to get into senior management, but no longer feel they can, which perhaps demonstrates a skills gap is prevalent and needs to be addressed.
Chris Daly concludes: “It’s really encouraging to see so many young people joining the marketing profession with long-term ambitions of reaching senior management positions in the future – and they are right to do so. An increasing number of marketers have made the move to Chief Executive roles, with Tesco perhaps the most high profile example in the UK. This trend was also reflected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), who revealed the role of Marketing Director is now the third most highly paid job title in the UK. This demonstrates a shift in business – recognising the talents and value senior marketers can bring to the boardroom – now looking to marketers as the natural business leaders of the future.
About the research:
• CIM conducted the research in partnership with YouGov
• 255 marketers were surveyed across England, Wales and Scotland