HOLLYWOOD: Marketers are exhibiting a new-found confidence based upon their heightened ability to demonstrate the efficiency of communications expenditure, a study has suggested.

Marc de Swaan Arons, founder of consultancy EffectiveBrands, told delegates at the 2014 Brand Masters Conference - an event held by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) - that the industry was currently on a high.

In supporting this claim, he drew on the Marketing2020 study conducted by EffectiveBrands and backed by the ANA. It involved quantitative research with more than 10,000 executives and qualitative research with 250 senior marketers.

"Finally, marketers can tell the financial people, 'Yes, I do know how efficient my spend is," said de Swaan Arons.

"I can tell you what part of the marketing spend was effective. And we can change the parts that weren't efficient.'" (For more, including how having a "vision" can help brands get the most out of big data, read Warc's exclusive report: EffectiveBrands: Best practices move beyond data and build a brand vision.)

This constitutes a significant shift for most practitioners, who in the past have often been forced to battle against perceptions that communications were a cost of doing business rather than a positive investment.

"After many years when they had to defend their spend and their headcount, they feel that the rest of the company is counting on them," de Swaan Arons continued.

"Why? Because marketing is the discipline that knows the most about digital. It isn't sales. It isn't finance. It isn't supply-chain [management]. It isn't human resources. It's marketing, and it has an influence it hasn't had for a long time."

Indeed, de Swaan Arons argued, there is a need to take a more holistic view of marketing than ever before, in recognition of the fact that the responsibility for building brands is spreading across silos.

"That means it's not a one-person [job] any more. It's all of us," he said. And at leading companies, the Marketing2020 analysis discovered, skillsets are evolving to encourage just this sort of collaboration.

Marc de Swaan Arons will present further findings from the Marketing2020 study at 4A's Transformation 2014. Warc will be reporting from this event, which runs from March 16-19.

Data sourced from Warc