The "magpie effect" – are CMOs being distracted by shiny new technology?

It’s an exciting time to be a senior marker. Thanks to the digital revolution, there’s certainly no shortage of new tools and technologies at their disposal.

The list of new technology coming onto the market is long - and it’s a trajectory that looks like it is set to continue. Marketing leaders have the opportunity to harness digital technology to drive significant, and unprecedented, improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of their campaigns.

The amount of budget dedicated to marketing technology will grow exponentially over the next decade, according to various market research forecasts. One forecast from Foundation Capital puts the figure at $120bn by 2025.

The good news is that the adoption and application of this new technology is very much within the CMO’s grasp. Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2016-2017 showed that the majority of CMOs now oversee – or “heavily influence” technology spending as a means to deliver growth.

So what does this mean in practice?

As the member of the C-suite tasked with selecting the right tools to meet customers’ needs, the CMO must also – crucially – be able to justify the spend internally.

Scrutiny over proving return on investment is becoming increasingly pervasive across all aspects of the marketer’s work. A recent report from the CMO Council and IBM found that 70% of CEOs now expect CMOs to lead revenue growth.

As a consequence, almost half (43%) of marketers think that proving ROI on their activities is currently one of their biggest challenges, according to a study from HubSpot.

The pressure’s on then, for the CMO to get it right – and for many the biggest challenge will be facing the sheer volume of options.

From new tools to streamline day-to-day operational tasks, such as data analytics software and automated chatbots, to the downright futuristic world of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the task of selection is almost overwhelming.

It’s unsurprising therefore, that 95% of marketers say that brands can get distracted by the latest “cool gimmick”, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

That’s a staggering high majority, and really highlights the danger of the ‘magpie effect’, when it comes to investing in new technologies.

It’s easy to get side-lined by shiny, new-to-market innovations without really thinking about how this technology practically fits into the wider marketing strategy.

The risk becomes that those marketers who choose to invest in, as the CIM puts it, “gimmicks” – find themselves in a vulnerable position internally as they later struggle to justify the spend to the board.

Savvy marketers therefore need to ensure they think about how a service or piece of technology will truly help them meet their and their organisation’s broader objectives, rather than allowing themselves to get distracted by the “coolest” tech.

Perhaps that objective is to streamline and boost efficiency, perhaps it is to cut costs, perhaps it is to collaborate more closely with global markets.

Whatever the challenge to overcome, when it comes to implementing new tech, CMOs shouldn’t be afraid to ‘start smart’. Step away from the gimmicks and you might be surprised to see it’s often the simplest innovation that is the most effective.

Print is a prime example, a marketing channel that has been forgotten in the chase for the next digital solution. And companies still print plenty of marketing materials, but with little or no control. In worst case, this is being done in one location and shipped to offices around the world. Processes are inefficient, which slows things down and results in a large amount of over order and wasted prints produced ‘just in case’. Gelato solves these issues through software by intelligently allocating print jobs to high quality print houses within the Gelato network - alwasy close to the delivery address, making ordering on demand possible. Despite decentralizing printing, brand consistency is ensured across the globe and senior marketers have complete oversight of everything that is happening, through the Gelato Globe platform.

Gelato is guided by a 90/50 vision; working with businesses to reduce their transport distances by 90% and reduce their print volume by 50%. By digitizing traditional print processes CMOs can ‘start smart’’; quickly driving significant efficiencies and improving ROI on marketing spend.

The 2016-2017 Gartner CMO Spend Survey showed that marketing leaders are empowered with bigger budgets by demonstrating financial accountability. Doing print in the right way may just buy time and resource to spend on the ‘cool’ stuff as well!