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The Rise of CMOs, MarTech and Authenticity

As we begin 2016, now is a great time to reflect on how much has changed in only one year. The marketing sector saw one of the most subtle but profound changes as the role of the Chief Marketing Officer expanded and became even more powerful. Analysts, consultants and investors all seem to agree that the role of the CMO has unfurled its wings and is riding as close to the top of the corporate food chain as the CEO.

According to a recent and very insightful whitepaper, The Decade of the CMO, by Ashu Garg, founder of Foundation Capital, CMOs are frequently next in line for the CEO position.  

Garg says that “Shifts in CEO priorities will drive a shift in power with CMOs becoming CeOs, Chief Experience Officers.” Garg cites the current wave of marketing technology as a main driver for this quiet but significant evolution in the role of a CMO as it allows oversight of the entire customer journey including every consumer touchpoint. Garg also notes three key priorities that help elevate the CMO role:

  1. New technology-driven needs in commerce, customer experience and digital marketing (all of which CMOs touch)
  2. Management of larger budgets with larger spends in technology that aligns the CMO with the CIO
  3. The intrinsic power of defining and articulating the core of a company, which aligns the CMO at the highest level among the c-suite and investors, frequently resulting in CMOs sliding into open CEO roles.

What is clear is that today’s CMO must embrace the shift to a tech-centric operation where creative is accountable and quantified. Gone are the days of two-martini lunches with the Mad Men and creative agencies dominating a CMO’s entire field of vision. There are more business objectives to be achieved, new consumer behaviors to adjust to and more communication channels to process. Enter MarTech, stage left.

The rise of marketing technologies (martech) has been swift and voluminous with the number of martech companies jumping from 1000 to 2000 at the beginning of the year – over taking ad tech and assuming a larger role at the table. I predict we will see yet another big jump as soon as the final numbers are in for 2015.   

Authentic Marketing

With all of these technologies out there serving and measuring every marketing effort, a new focus is being placed on how creative is performing. This is where we saw another major shift in 2015. The rise of authenticity in marketing hit a stride in 2015. More and more marketers embraced social platforms such as Instagram and explored new ways of utilizing these channels.  

E-commerce was the first sector to realize the conversion power of consumer-generated content. In 2014, brands and retailers began placing consumer photos on product pages and saw impressive increases in Average Order Values and Conversion Rates. In 2015, brands started to realize the added engagement value of using consumer-generated photos and began to explore how this content could be used throughout the buyer journey.

Can there be truth in advertising? We believe so – and it can be done at scale. In 2016, we will see all the ways marketers will be extending consumer photos and videos into all marketing channels and effectively changing the brand’s relationship with its consumer. Authentic consumer content will prove to be more cost-effective and powerful than brand-created content. Garg even named technology platforms for distributing “authentic” content one of the top 5 drivers in martech spending, which is estimated to reach $120 billion by 2025.

While marketing has been forever changed with new technologies, human nature remains the same. Our innate ability to spot a fake, our desire to connect in genuine and meaningful ways is the instinct that is driving how we want to interact with the world and with brands.  

As our own CMO, Rachel Meranus, outlined in a recent post, 2016 will usher in the age of authenticity in marketing. It is inevitable and unstoppable, and will ultimately yield much high levels of success and satisfaction for both brands and consumers.

Image source: Unsplash.com / By: Mink Mingle

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