It goes without saying that the collision between marketing and advertising has caused a lot of disruption in the past few years. Reality check? This disruption is only going to increase.

The Problem

Last year John Battelle inked a great article in Forbes that outlined the rocky relationship and barriers between brand marketers, publishers and ad-tech firms:

“What we have here is a failure of communication and shared values. The brand marketers I speak with acknowledge that they don’t understand how to map their brand-building skills to the offerings of ad-tech companies. The ad-tech companies confide that they don’t understand the motivations of brand marketers (nor do they believe it would be profitable to try). And publishers, most of whom are operating on thin or negative margins, are unable to devote the resources necessary to build infrastructure that would allow them to be on equal footing with either the fast-growing VC-backed world or the massive agencies and brands who are driving billions of spend into the ecosystem.”

In short, we’ve hit a critical juncture. As more and more brands work to transform into media companies themselves, it is important to step back and assess how both agencies and brands alike are adapting to the skills, knowledge and expertise required to navigate this new landscape.

The Solution

Enter the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO).Traditionally, most big brands and companies still make a clear divide between a CMO, CTO and CIO. While this vertical divide used to suffice, technology has shifted the need for an additional cross-functional role that centers on the ability to marry up digital marketing strategy with technology to ultimately help guide a CEO and drive business goals.

It’s no small ask, but let’s briefly take a look at a few different scenarios that highlight why this role is so important:

  •  At the core of any successful company is the customer and data. If a CMO can’t help other executives recognize and guide the implementation of a CRM and marketing automation tool, a lack of data tracking and audience optimization will eventually prevent the customer from being at the heart of a business.
  • Without a thorough understanding of content strategy, a company’s CMO may be limited in guiding IT and e-commerce teams to adapt a website’s publishing capabilities to fulfill an important role as a core content marketing tactic.
  • A lack of understanding around the ad-tech ecosystem may limit a CMO’s ability to craft a highly effective paid advertising strategy that closely integrates across a company’s content strategy and online marketing/advertising approach.

This is of course the tip of the iceberg but you can quickly get a sense of the cascading barriers that can result from not having a CMTO in place to help underpin and guide strategy in coordination with a CMO, CTO and CIO. While some companies have been quick to adopt this role, my gut says it will take others quite a bit longer to recognize and act upon the immediate need to fill this staffing gap.

On the other side of the coin, agencies also need to move quick to hire in those that have an array of skills that would match that of a CMTO. Disjointed strategy for clients can quickly result when there are disparate approaches across content/brand strategists, platform and creative technologists and paid media specialists. In 2014, I anticipate that many agencies will be faced with critical decisions around knowledge breadth versus depth of skills as they determine how to disrupt traditional hiring models and factor in more cross-functional strategists that can reflect that of a CMTO.

Whether you’re an agency or brand, now is the time to start diving in on hiring a CMTO to help guide and transform your business. From what I’ve seen, these will be difficult hires to find as we are still in the early stages of this convergence. Nonetheless, I’m confident that these hires are going to be critical to making or breaking the success of companies in the very near future.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Scott- As a young professional in the marketing technology field I am very excited about what I read here. I’d love to get your thoughts about what steps should be taken by a person to position themselves to be an attractive candidate for this type of position. If you had a few minutes to connect on LinkedIn or Twitter about this, I’d really appreciate it.

    Thanks! Very great post.


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