What does the future marketer look like? This was the question posed by The Drum to a panel of young guns at AppsFlyer’s Mobile Attribution and Marketing Analytics (MAMA) conference last Wednesday. It’s a fairly existential question for an industry changing apace. What the marketer looked like last year is wholly different to what they will look like next.
One thing that was apparent from the second our panel sat down is that the future marketer is far less likely to be a straight white man than a decade ago. From Russia to London via Cyprus, Wales and Holland, the four women and one man on stage embodied the diversity of talent in this new generation of marketers. A fresh change from the ‘old farts,’ The Drum’s associate editor, Sonoo Singh, chairing, observed to titters from the crowd.
Jokes aside, it is clear that the role isn’t as black and white as it once was. Marketers have gone from being the last to know - whose only job was to sell the product - to being involved every step of the way, sit at the table with every stakeholder, and manage expectations and improve outcomes.
“You’re part of the much wider team within the business, and that stands from product to tech to editorial – the whole width,” said Rebecca Allard, a senior marketing manager at The Telegraph.
Eli Kostyukhina, head of user acquisition at Supersolid Games explained to the audience how she has “gone from somebody who manages campaigns, to somebody who needs to know monetisation, app store optimisation, more in-depth analysis. I feel like my role is evolving into something that’s more involved in other areas and products," she said.
This sentiment was reflected across the panel. But due to the heightened prominence of the marketing role in the digital space, the required skills have changed, are changing, and will change again soon. But have the fundamentals? Can the old school teach them anything?
“You can write the marketing playbook," said Dorothy Wolanska, user acquisition specialist at Ubisoft, “but in a year it’s going to be obsolete. You don’t know what it's going to be. It’s where you’re going to have to take a leap of faith.”
Michael Jessen, mobile marketing manager at eCooltra, added that “what was being taught five years ago is not even relevant anymore. You can’t say you need to be good at A,B,C or D, because everything will be completely different in one year.”
It’s true to say that the ecosystem has grown cluttered with shiny new toys for marketers to use. “Every day,” said Badoo’s growth marketing lead, Ira Kachanovskaya, “there are new concepts, new platforms that we can use, new approaches, new different start-ups in the market.”
Some might argue that spending so much time testing new products––an extraordinary amount of trial and error––is emblematic of a system that is not working. Trying new approaches is part and parcel of any line of work. But surely once you’ve found something that works, you stick to it? Constantly changing tactic used to mean your tactics weren’t working.
Not so, for the modern marketer, said Jessen. “There’s a lot of companies popping up every day, so testing is something ongoing, and we should embrace that. You cannot stay with one provider all the time. You need to use multiple platforms, multiple approaches . . . we’re not looking for a ‘number one platform’.”
With the deluge of new tech popping up comes a whole dictionary of often-nonsense buzzwords. For chief marketing officers, each is distracting in its own right. For our young panel, most only a few years out of university, the modish lexicon is an opportunity to flex in front of their bosses.
“It’s rather refreshing,” says Wolanska. “The chief marketing officers hear these buzzwords, they come down and want you to explain what exactly do each of the buzzwords mean? They’re eager to try it”
The role is changing. In fact, it might not even exist in a decade due to automation. But for now, has the marketing rulebook of old been ripped up? Kostyukhina says yes, but not entirely. “You still need those core soft skills which are actually still so important at the moment to unite all the things within your company.”
And what would our panel change about marketing? What will they do differently if, one day, they become the chief marketing officer?
“Approach your marketing broadly. Holistically. And it should be the route to achieving your business and marketing objectives. No silos. No new shiny objects. No tactics that aren't tied to the strategy,” said Allard. "Sometimes," adds Kachanovskaya, "we need to be more data-informed, actually listen to our social media, and bring those ideas back to the product. Be a point, a connection for those two; a voice of the users."