CMOs Need Solutions, Not Acronyms

This article is part of the Digiday Partner Program and is brought to you by MediaMath, the creator of the TerminalOne Marketing Operating System™.  Matt Spiegel is GM Americas at MediaMath.


“Turbulence is the new normal for CMOs.” That’s the summary statement from Accenture’s most recent CMO survey, and it couldn’t be more accurate. CMOs now have more channels to communicate with customers, customers with more demands and higher expectations, increased complexity of marketing execution, more required speed and skills, and the list goes on.

These two stats say it all:

  • 70 percent of CMOs worldwide expect “fundamental changes” to marketing in the next five years
  • Only 61 percent of CMOs feel, at least, “well prepared” for these changes (a decrease from 2011)

Here’s another fascinating stat from the Accenture report: While two-thirds of CMOs “feel that creating value for customers across digital channels is an important capability to master,” only 13 percent believe their performance is leading edge. And they rate “lack of critical technology/tools as the third biggest barrier to all marketing capabilities.

What worries me is how often smart business leaders and savvy marketers embrace the opportunities in digital marketing only to sound more like ad tech professionals than marketers. I’ve heard the statement “I need a DMP” more times that I can count.  In every case, my first question, in various degrees of deft and tact, is “what does that mean to you?” or “what is your actual need?”  If it’s not a DMP, then marketers believe they need a DSP or another bucket on one of the many infamous industry landscape diagrams.

This is not the right conversation and not the right way for marketers to express their needs.

I’ve never been a CMO, but if I were, I’d make sure that my organization was thinking and speaking about the enterprise skills and tools in terms of business outcomes and value. Behind the statements about a need for a DMP, DSP or other technology are the real challenges brands face, including:

  • Understanding who their customers are and all the ways to interact with them
  • Messaging to customers based on who they are and what they’ve done
  • Increasing the return on media dollars by expanding investments in addressable media
  • Leveraging technology to make in-the-moment decisions on the right content for that unique situation
  • Gaining ownership of data and transparency of where media runs

Unfortunately, because much of the ad tech industry is more focused on products than business solutions, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of “needing” another acronym.

MediaMath helped invent these acronyms, but that doesn’t mean we feel any more beholden to them than you should.  Today our focus is on better demonstrating how our platform, TerminalOne, was built to be the marketing operating system for leading marketers and agencies. An operating system allows marketers to integrate multiple technologies and build connections to the ecosystem, and at the core, it provides the technology needed to focus on business outcomes, not technology inputs.

Few, if anyone, would argue against the idea that winning in the next era of marketing requires technology and data expertise at the center.  But too many are buying point solutions leading to wasted money (on tech and media) and ineffectiveness because the multiple disparate systems don’t tie together as nicely as the sales pitch would lead you to believe.

While the road ahead for CMOs will be turbulent, there are partners out there ready to help them navigate the journey, rather than simply point out the landmarks along the way.

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