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The case for shifting CMO budgets from tech to creative services

August 27, 2019 | By Tim Bourgeois — Digital Media Auditor and Consultant @ChiefDigOfficer

Most marketers can agree that we’ve collectively reached the point of marketing technology saturation. Or at least diminishing returns on investment. After all, the ecosystem has grown from a few dozen martech vendors at the turn of the decade to more than 7,000 today, and tens of billions of dollars in annual spending. At the same time, advertising budgets have only grown by about five percent each year. So martech growth had to stabilize eventually, and a new study shows one way to squeeze more ROI from the CMO budget. 

The cost of losing creativity

In The Cost of Losing Creativity, Forrester Research makes an investment-based case for shifting dollars away from martech and into creative. Key takeaways are:

  • Martech Investments Are “Table-Stakes”: The proliferation of martech has resulted in a slew of homogenized brand experiences; technology is no longer a competitive differentiator
  • Creative-Fueled ROI Takes Time: More aggressive investment in the creative elements of the marketing operation will drive increased ROI but will require more than 24+ months to realize
  • A Team-Based Approach Is Required: There are too many moving parts in today’s marketing operation to handle strictly using in-house resources. So, CMOs have to partner with external specialists and other internal functions like the CIO and COO 

Implications for the digital media ecosystem

This kind of thinking bodes well for the marketing community en masse and has been ripe for at least a couple of years now. In many ways, it suggests that companies that focus on core marketing and communication tenets – ideas and the compelling presentation of those ideas – will win the day. 

For digital media in particular, this new research is consistent with themes we’ve been espousing, such as the appeal of premium publishers and personalization strategies. Elite platforms can take advantage of this movement by: 

  • Helping brands to understand the role of your unique channel to high value audiences, and how the medium used to deliver great ideas is as important as the ideas themselves
  • Providing creative support in the form of both unique packaging (online, events, co-sponsored research) and nuts-and-bolts design and production
  • Emphasizing ROI-based outcomes of campaigns and engagement; premium platforms cost more, but also deliver more

Forrester makes no bones about the fact that while a focus on creative capabilities and output will deliver superior ROI, it won’t happen overnight. This isn’t a quick fix. Publishers can put themselves in a position to ride this wave by helping to educate brands on the underlying proposition as well as articulating how premium platforms can play a role in the strategy. 

About the author

Tim Bourgeois is a marketing advisor who helps brands optimize ROI on advertising, technology and agency investments through digital marketing audits and strategy engagements. 

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