UK marketers least confident on data use

Less than half of UK marketers are confident about their company’s use of data compared to competitors but that could change as the prevalence of chief marketing technologists is on the rise.

Marketers in the UK are least likely of any country to view their company’s use of data and analytics as more advanced than competitors, or consider their marketing leadership as progressive in this area, according to research from marketing platform DataXu shown exclusively to Marketing Week.

The report shows 61% of businesses in the UK believe their company is more digitally advanced than competitors or the average company, compared with 70% of respondents in the US, 73% in France, 78% in Germany, 78% in Italy and 88% in Spain.

On average, those with smaller marketing budgets are even less likely (42%) to view themselves as being digitally advanced. In addition, only 24% of marketers in the UK believe their marketing leadership is very advanced or cutting-edge – the least likely of all the countries surveyed. This compares to Germany (40%) and France (37%) where respondents are more likely to say their marketing leadership is very advanced and cutting-edge.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for the UK marketing sector overall, as it suggests many businesses face relatively strong competition.

Chris Le May, senior vice-president and managing director for Europe and emerging markets at DataXu, also suggests there is a difference in attitudes depending on a marketer’s seniority level. “Digitally savvy [younger marketers] are more aware of what is going on in the digital landscape and therefore don’t consider themselves as more sophisticated than their peer set.” He compares this to the CMO end of the scale where they hold “the opinion they are doing an excellent job but they don’t have the understanding of the digital ecosystem”.

The report is based on the views of 500 marketers, who were asked how data, analytics and technology has influenced their marketing budgets and to define their job titles. This was to understand how technology has created new roles and responsibilities and to whom those marketers report within an organisation.

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The rise of marketing technology

Data is integral to marketing given that 83% of marketers look at data to make changes to their marketing plans. Alongside creativity (72%), understanding marketing technology (68%) is one of the most important skills needed to become a successful senior marketer, according to the research.

The level of importance placed on data differs by country though, since 78% of US respondents believe understanding marketing technology is becoming more important to their role, compared with 54% of German respondents.

Marketers in the US also place importance on creativity (79%) and understanding digital media (72%). Similarly, UK respondents see both creativity (68%) and understanding marketing technology (63%) as critical to a marketer’s success.

However, Le May is concerned at the “pitifully low” level of understanding that CMOs have of the consequences that addressable and programmatic media will have on their organisations in the future.

He says: “[Chief marketing officers] have been passengers for a while but they haven’t appreciated the idea that they must understand the addressable media landscape – they’re too involved in TV and out-of-home – education is still a core part.”

The internal approach to data management is also an issue, since it often has a separate budget and is run by an independent team from marketing. In the UK, 44% have separate budgets for marketing technology and marketing, and this disparity is even more prevalent across the rest of the European countries surveyed. More than half (52%) of French respondents are likely to have separate budgets for marketing technology and marketing, which rises to 58% for Italy and 63% for Spain. Respondents in the US are less likely to have separate budgets at only 33%.

Chief marketing technologist stats

Marketers in Germany, meanwhile, are most likely to share the same budget across teams (46%).

This debate is leading to the diversification of skills on marketing teams, where the responsibility for buying, using and managing this technology could sit with a chief marketing technologist (CMT). Two-thirds (66%) of all respondents say their organisation has hired a CMT or someone in a senior role focused on marketing technology, where the role of the marketer has evolved from owning primarily creative responsibilities to a champion of data-driven efficiency.

Respondents from Italy and Spain (both 90%) are most likely to have a CMT. DataXu’s 2015 data, which looked at the UK only, shows that 14% of businesses had a CMT in place, compared with this year’s study, which reveals 63% of UK respondents have a CMT or someone in a similar role within their business.

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Enter the ‘Data interpretation/extraction’ category at the Data Storytelling Awards. The entry deadline is 19 July. Click here to find out more.

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