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Majority of major global brands are still in early stages of digital transformation plans

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

November 12, 2019 | 3 min read

The vast majority of global multinational brands are still in the very early stages of their digital transformation strategies, according to research from the World Federation of Advertisers.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation research

It surveyed 27 brands that have total global ad spend of $32bn for the study, which revealed that nearly half (43%) are still only taking the first steps in their digital transformation journeys. It found that 10% have developed a strategy, which they have yet to start putting into action, while 5% are still in initial planning stages. A further 14% having it “on the agenda” for 2019.

By contrast, 19% said the process was highly advanced and 9.5% claimed the process was completed.

As part of the shift, many said they are looking at new marketing structures and half of respondents said that agency staffers are now embedded within their internal teams.

However, there remains a problem with the integration of digital with the rest of the marketing function.

Ten of the companies said they relied on a separate team for digital marcoms while ten respondents said they were working to have the two integrated. Just seven reported that digital expertise was already woven into all teams.

“Digital roles within many organisations should have been made redundant by now and while they will remain a necessity for some, the goal for the majority should be moving to integration of these skills,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive at the WFA.

“The ongoing transformation of organisations and required skills-sets is, for good reason, a huge priority area for our industry’s marketing leaders.”

Earlier this year, a report from global consulting firm AlixPartners on the digital proficiency of FMCGs found that 60% of their digital spend is wasted, equating to annual losses of close to $50bn for the industry.

The figures indicated that consumer goods brands need to fine-tune their digital and media transformation strategies to draw out greater value from online investments.

Progress is being made, though. Leaders in the survey who identified themselves as monitoring digital ROI said they were now 70% more efficient in driving positive returns versus those beginning their digital transformations.

Of all the decision-makers questioned, the majority cited IT and technology (83%) as the business function most likely to change due to digital transformation. 79% said logistics would see the biggest shift, followed by marketing and insights (78%).

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