The Digerati discussions: What will the role of the marketer evolve to become?

The Digerati discussions: What will the role of the marketer evolve to become? Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

In recent years there has been increased discussion about the role of the marketer and how it will evolve in the wake of the fourth industrial revolution. The expectations that they will simply promote a company’s wares have become more complex with some citing marketing as a science with more platforms and fragmentation of audience attention, for which there is even more competition than ever, adding to the issues faced.

The Drum asked some of the worldwide digital marketers who featured on this year’s Digerati list about their views of how the role of the marketer will survive and evolve in the future.

“The marketer of the future will need an unlikely blend of creativity, tech-savviness and business acumen. The job profile is challenging - and the role no doubt more exciting the ever,” outlines Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the World Federation of Advertisers.

The role of data, the new oil in terms of value in the modern age, was always a key component of a marketer’s routine. Now it too has become more complex with numerous platforms being developed to offer audience insights and a rise in complexity due to the sheer volume of insights being delivered in real time continuously.

“[This gives] unprecedented access to all kinds of data to make more informed decisions and to measure across the full funnel including brand lift, store visits, site visitations, sales and what target audience was reached,” says Youssef Ben-Youssef, director of ad platform with Roku, outlining the benefits of data access. “It also allows a continuing dialogue around data between marketers and their partners is critical for everyone to ensure the train does not come off the tracks,” he adds.

Luke Davies, senior manager of global yield, Reuters, believes strongly that “Data is king,” in modern business. “Effective analysis and interpretation of data even more so. A strong understanding of the different metrics across the various media channels/platforms. For buyers, it’s important to have a unique and informed strategy when planning for different content forms and platforms. Too many take a one size fits all approach.”

Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital, AELTC, which runs the annual Wimbledon championship, sees an understanding of data analysis and structures and being able to form a narrative around those as being crucial to the role of the modern marketer: “The ability to think agile short term so as not to miss opportunities brought about by change, but still drive and challenge long term road map empathy. The marketer of the future will more than ever have to balance different aspects and priorities of the business with those of the fan - and that requires thinking as others think - or at least acknowledging how they think.”

Nigel Vaz, global chief executive officer, Publicis Sapient, an expert in digital transformation delivery within businesses, believes that the delivery of brand experiences by marketers continue to be crucial but are now made through a number of different touchpoints, however who has responsibility is no longer entirely clear with the rise of the chief technology officer and other senior roles with the potential to overlap.

“Within the client organization, responsibility for these many interfaces does not always sit in the realm of marketing and so it is easy to conclude that the power of the marketer is on the wane. In fact, the opposite could be true – at least for marketers who have the adaptability, agility, curiosity and desire to embrace and own ‘experience’ in its widest sense. Securing competitive advantage through utilizing technology and harnessing data to get an organization to its future digitally enabled state is essential and differentiates a business by allowing it to know its customers best.

“Less replicable are purpose, the promise of what a brand stands for and the creativity to make the emotional connections to build relationships with consumers,” continues Vaz, who is currently serving as president of the IPA. “Marketers who can combine a technological and marketing approach and capabilities will face a strong future – for their businesses as well as for themselves.”

And despite all of the introduction of technology that has arguably overcomplicated the marketing mix, Tamara Rogers, global chief marketing officer of GSK Consumer Healthcare, still believes that there is a need for specialists who can act as experts in their disciplines and to maintain a single minded vision.

“Getting the basics right - strip back to the one thing you want to say and then sequence messages to bring people along with a journey and create platforms for people to engage with brands and co-create. Impact and memorability are the holy grail in endless content,” states Rogers. “The ability to be wide-eyed and laser-focused. Open to the unexpected opportunities but only if they are in support of the brand positioning and strategy. Stay current by keeping pace with change and be endlessly curious about the opportunities change provides.”

This view of the need for focus and expertise is one that Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships within NBCUniversal, agrees with.

“Anyone following the world of gymnastics knows that Simone Biles is simply the best in the world. And what makes her the best is that she excels at the standard things so well while also inventing new, never-been-done-before moves to add to her repertoire. She’s expanding her skill set and leaving the competition in the dust.

There is something similar happening in the C-Suite. In the beginning, CMOs were outstanding storytellers. As their jobs became more complex, they took their genius and started to mix art and science, merging in data and tech skills. Ultimately, they transformed the craft of storytelling, with an equal pursuit on mastering the innovation to distribute their message. Now, with the maturation of data, CMOs are evolving again. With a relentless focus on business expansion, they’re broadening skills sets to become chief growth officers, while sometimes at odds with procurement teams.

“So to thrive as marketers we should take a page from the CMO book. We all have to learn more, be and do more,” continues Yaccarino. “But what’s also most interesting is that when done right, this evolution can filter down through the entire organization. The CMO knows the consumer better than anyone. And this customer-first mindset can influence everything: from operational and product infrastructure, research and development, to culture. When done well, marketers can set the tone for how an entire company operates.”

Whatever the future of the chief marketing officer turns out to be, there is a clear need to be able to adapt and move with the times and work with emerging roles within businesses that can support and introduce new skills and insights into the engagement and brand building process.

The Drum announced the list of Digerati honorees last week. To learn more on all of the Digerati's thoughts on advertising, subscribe to our magazine.

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