Digital prompts marketing shake-up

01 March 2012

NEW YORK: Almost three-quarters of brand owners are modifying their marketing structures in response to the demands posed by digital media, a study has revealed.

The Society of Digital Agencies, the trade body, partnered with Econsultancy, the insights provider, to poll 651 new media executives.

In all, 73% of the client-side companies represented in the analysis were currently "transforming" their marketing operations to more accurately reflect the needs of the evolving marketplace.

L'Oréal, the cosmetics group, is one notable example of this trend. "When I started at L'Oréal USA, there was really no overarching CMO or digital marketing organisation at the corporate level," said Marc Speichert, its chief marketing officer. "What was truly exciting was creating it from scratch."

Some 71% of brand owners had already reorganised their teams based around different consumer segments, 46% had formed cross-departmental units to spread "social learning" and 33% now integrate social listening and traditional research.

"The things that we learn from our interaction with people via reviews and online forums really help us understand what consumers ... feel are the really pertinent issues around consumer electronics," said Matthew Moller, senior manager for customer engagement at Samsung Electronics.

Another 21% of clients had built "voice of the customer" advocacy groups and 18.8% had changed compensation structures in a bid to encourage inter-departmental collaboration.

"We empower our employees. When you own and have the ability to grow something, it creates loyalty to the work, the team and the organisation," Laurel Walsh, head of leadership staffing for Google's people operations team, said.

In keeping with the wider trend, 62% of marketers are allocating more resources to building in-house digital capabilities. A further 42% are boosting external spending, 28% hope to diversify agency rosters and 19% are seeking to consolidate here.

Exactly 50% of client-side marketers will also heighten their total digital marketing expenditure in 2012, versus 22% doing so for traditional channels. Earned and owned media logged 66% on this metric.

Among the specific areas receiving increased emphasis this year were corporate blogs on 61%, apps on 57%, digital brand management and measurement on 52%, mobile websites on 50% and social media marketing on 49%.

"We've always been a highly customer-focused organisation. Our social strategy gives us more touchpoints to engage with and listen to customers in ways we didn't really leverage until recently," Robert Harles, Bloomberg's global head of social media, said.

Data sourced from SODA; additional content by Warc staff