You may not recognize the CMO of the future.
Neither man nor machine, this newfangled CMO will be a hybrid who combines human creativity with the brute strength of machines.
Credit big processing power for both enabling and necessitating the rise of the new CMO. The ability to sift through and analyze huge quantities of data has made business insights available on an unprecedented scale–and in the process is reshaping marketing with new levels of precision, personalization, and performance.
But making this “cyborg” vision a reality requires a fundamental new approach to machine-learning in marketing and advertising. While today machine-learning is like voodoo to CMOs, opaque and magical, to truly make it usable requires transparency. That way CMOs can gain insights from machine-learning and easily visualize the data.
Combining transparency with data visualization enables CMOs to work more closely and collaboratively with data crunchers, data providers, and data trackers. Data crunchers provide the infrastructure and processing power behind machine learning; data trackers analyze marketing actions and target the right campaigns to the right audience; and data providers overlay additional customer insights (demographic, behavioral, etc.) onto marketing events.
The result is concrete ROI on your media spending: lower cost-per-conversion and cost-per-click. It also allows marketers to identify the best media bargains across time, audience, and context, and act on that intelligence.
So how do we get there? I’d like to suggest five steps CMOs can take to transform themselves into CMOs of the future:
1. Get to know the marketing technology and big data landscape: Some are predicting a completely new C-level officer who handles marketing technology, but I predict that successful CMOs will have high-level mastery of demand-side platforms (DSPs), data management platforms (DMPs), ad exchanges, and predictive analytics providers. These are emerging technology stacks geared toward advertising and marketing that every CMO needs to learn about. To learn more, I recommend you start with the Marketing Technology LUMAscape by LUMA Partners and this helpful infographic of big data technology from Advertising Age.
2. Become a data scientist–or recruit a good one: A lot has been written about how the demand for data scientists is far outstripping the supply because they’re a rare combination of analyst, statistician, programmer, and consultant. My recommendation to CMOs is to learn as much as you can about data mining and predictive analysis. A good first step is to take an introductory statistics class and experiment with BigML. For the CMO who has completed basic cybernetic upgrades, check out Machine Learning by Stanford Professor Andrew Ng.
3. Become a data visualization junkie: There’s a big movement toward learning to visualize data, and CMOs need to bone up. One noted practitioner is Edward Tufte, a professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, who has written multiple books on how to visualize data in an easy-to-understand way. My favorite is Tufte’s “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.” Also with her finger on the pulse of data visualization is Nancy Duarte, author of “Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences,” whose consulting firm does data visualization and design presentations for keynotes by Fortune 500 companies.
4. Watch out for marketing technology platforms that buy media: Lean toward platforms that allow you to ask ad-hoc questions of your ad- data, as opposed to platforms that offer canned reports that don’t teach you very much about your audience or show you why you bought what you bought.
Make no mistake about it: The cyborg revolution is coming. The question: How ready are you?