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In 2020 CEOs will insist CMOs justify marketing spend, says Twitter SEA MD

SEA is carrying the average forward for the world for Twitter.

“The economy is slowing down everywhere in the world. We can't deny that fact. You watch Bloomberg for five minutes, they will say the economy slowdown 10 times in those five minutes, right?” asks Arvinder Gujral, the managing director for South East Asia (SEA) at Twitter, when The Drum catches up with him at Twitter’s 2020 kick-off event.

That is why he predicts in 2020, chief executive officers will start asking chief marketing officers questions like "What are you doing with those dollars I'm giving you?”

Like Accenture Interactive Operations’ global president Nikki Mendonca, Gujral believes gone are the days where marketers could get away with some opaque metrics in the boardroom because now they have to prove that all of the money spent on behalf of their clients and the activity from their teams is actually paying dividends.

He says if the reply from the chief marketing officers is "I have got you 5 billion impressions”, then the chief executive officers will ask, "What am I going to do with your impressions? I need to know if you sold the product that I asked you to sell or did the audience come and ask for those services that we sell? Don't tell me impressions and cost per view."

“Chief executive officers do not understand the language of the chief marketing officers, but they understand the language of business KPIs. I think more and more, chief marketing officers will be asked to justify their marketing spends and link it back to business KPIs, and hence, they will stop shouting and giving out of vanity metrics like impressions and cost per views,” explains Gujral.

“They will have to justify from a perspective of a business lens that, I spent X amount of money, I changed the perception of the brand by this and this, which further led downstream to our products getting more traction in the market, which led to more sales, which is capturing more market share.”

He continues: “If you can't do this math, then who are you marketing to and why are you marketing in the first place? And I think that's one of the questions marketers have to ask themselves. Are you here to burn marketing budget by the end of the quarter, or earn market share by spending marketing budgets?”

Reflecting on 2019, Gujral claims SEA markets like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam are growing at two to three times the rate of Twitter’s global average from an audience growth perspective. That means SEA is carrying the average forward for the world for Twitter.

He adds that SEA is one of the fastest-growing revenue markets in the world for Twitter as well because the audiences are coming in and brands are investing.

He points to Twitter’s 2020 kick-off event as an example, where the platform unveiled new research and invited senior marketing leaders to discuss the elements every brand needs to win big with launches and connect with consumers through conversations and cultural relevance.

Gujarl says the event was held to celebrate the “incredible year Twitter had” and to talk to marketers on how to use the platform better.

However, he admits that Twitter has been a little difficult for a new user to understand. To make the platform more contextually relevant, Twitter recently launched a new feature globally called topics.

Topics will help new Twitter users to follow any topics they are keen to stay updated on.

“It's going to be rolling out soon in this part of the world. It's just rolling out globally as we speak, any minute you will see on your timeline. Now algorithmically, the system will see there are tweets about a certain event happening and suddenly on your timeline you will see a topic like NBA and you can just follow the conversations on NBA,” explains Gujral.

“You don't have to follow individual accounts. You will follow a topic like you follow accounts, except when you follow NBA as a topic; it just makes your life so much so simpler. You don't have to follow individual accounts, individual hashtags and know when to keep up.”

He adds: “You come on Twitter because you care about some passion point of yours, not just for asocial network. That's Instagram and Facebook. So as long as I can make your passion points easily available to somebody to follow, we have achieve our goal.”

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey recently announced the platform will halt all paid-for political campaigning on Twitter. However, Brittany Kaiser, the former Cambridge Analytica business development director-turned-whistleblower, has conceded that while Twitter's political ad ban is a brave move it's not a long-term fix.

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