Vanessa Tadier
Vanessa Tadier 16 July 2018

Digital: how CMOs can master the new marketing era

Setting up your marketing team for success is tough in today’s digital era. While the proliferation of channels and devices provides more opportunities to engage consumers on a personal level, it also brings new challenges: especially for the CMO.

Not only are CMOs under pressure to demonstrate the impact of campaigns on the bottom line, they are also faced with the difficult task of coordinating an increasingly complex number of resources and systems – an issue intensified by the common tendency for data to be collected in silos and for functional teams to focus on their own specific objectives.

To be effective, CMOs must ensure every member of their team has a complete view of performance and works toward the same goals — and this means they need a more accurate way of assessing the impact of individual efforts on overall results.

Changing times for CMOs

The rise of digital has opened up new possibilities for CMOs to boost performance. With the introduction of addressable channels — which provide deep user-level data — has come the ability to connect with individuals, rather than generic buyer personas. Using digital insights, marketing activity can be tailored around real people, with well-timed messages delivered to specific audiences via their preferred channels. By creating more coordinated and relevant experiences, marketers can fuel engagement, conversions, and loyalty.

But digital progression has also increased strain on CMOs, who have a greater weight of accountability than ever. Most marketing organisations now have layers of managers and specialists executing tactics and managing spend for each channel, not to mention multiple agency and vendor relationships. This complex structure often leads to teams or individuals working toward independent key performance indicators and incentives by channel, instead of across channels.

Providing tangible proof of marketing effectiveness means CMOs need a holistic view of performance and clear evidence that the efforts of different teams are adding up to a positive experience for consumers, and the greatest returns for the business. At the same time, different marketing roles – from VPs and directors down to each individual channel owner – require different insights at different speeds in order to make the most effective decisions. Succeeding amidst the demands of today’s digital era means CMOs and their teams must embrace a new approach to measurement.

A measurement upgrade is due

Most marketing organisations still rely on outmoded measurement models to analyse performance, such as last-touch attribution. While this approach is easy to implement and use, it’s also misleading. When each channel is measured in a silo, results are duplicated, and it’s impossible for teams to understand how different touchpoints in the consumer journey work together to influence a desired outcome, such as a sale or lead.

To be effective, marketing organisations and their agency partners must rely on a data source that offers a comprehensive picture of performance and makes it possible for everyone to work towards shared goals.

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) is an approach that enables all members of the marketing organisation to work together. It integrates disparate marketing performance data into common measures and taxonomy to eliminate duplication and establish a single source of marketing truth.

By assigning fractional credit to all the channels and tactics that influence a specific result, MTA provides insights into which touchpoints drive performance, so CMOs and their teams can make smarter investment decisions not just at the channel level, but also the most granular levels like keyword, placement and creative. Some solutions even integrate third-party demographic and behavioural audience data to provide tactical performance insights by audience segment.

How does this help CMOs and their teams?

In short, MTA provides the holistic view of performance that CMOs need to maximise efficiency and return, while providing their teams with the granular, real-time insights they need to feed the funnel and drive results. Here are some use cases that demonstrate how MTA can support key marketing functions.

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs)

The CMO is responsible for distributing annual budgets between media and marketing and ensuring teams are optimising online and offline delivery while keeping messaging consistent. Without a holistic understanding of performance this can involve a great deal of guesswork, but MTA provides a comprehensive view of the impact each channel and tactic has on key business objectives.

For example, CMOs across every industry need to justify current spending, as well an any increases during budgeting time. They also need to make decisions about how to best allocate their budget across an ever-increasing number of channels and devices.  By asking VPs of marketing and media to report on the channels driving leads, sales and other business objectives for each target audience, CMOs can better apportion budgets to achieve top-line growth and bottom-line efficiency.

Channel managers

Channel managers are responsible for executing campaigns or buys using channel-specific technology (real-time bidding solutions, email platforms, etc.). Managers of paid channels such as display, social, and paid search need to optimise spend on a daily basis in order to minimise wastage. Similarly, managers of owned-channel managers such as email, website, and mobile apps also need to know how consumers are responding to their messages, so they can make adjustments to creative, offers and content to optimise performance.

By collating data about individual interactions across every touchpoint, attributing credit and making results available in near real-time, MTA enables channel managers to identify which paid social ad, direct mail flyer, display placement, or email discount offer drove clicks, website sign ups, sales and other key metrics yesterday, instead of last quarter. Using this granular insight, they can then adjust campaigns to generate a higher return.


Agencies have media planners who are tasked with buying and optimising media across platforms while assigning brands’ budgets on a daily basis. They are responsible for working with various publishers, negotiating placements, trafficking the creative, and ensuring ad servers are serving the right creative for each placement and for each publisher.

Using MTA, media planners can identify which tactics (creative, publisher, ad size, ad placement, etc.) are driving the greatest response and use this data to optimise accordingly. For example, a media planner at an agency may notice a display ad offering a 70% discount is outperforming targets and expectations, and respond by boosting the budget for ads with that particular creative.

In the multi-faceted digital age, it seems as though opportunity is often obscured by an array of challenges. But order can be restored with the right measurement approach. By embracing multi-touch attribution, CMOs can gain a firm grip on marketing activity across all channels, and provide their teams with the insight required to do what they do best: orchestrate successful campaigns that deliver optimal results.

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