Marketing executives facing new issues, investments in 2007

Two recently published surveys around marketing indicate a shift in issues marketers face and the resulting change in investments planned by organizations as a result.

The annual Association of National Advertisers survey results show a switch in the top issue faced by marketers today: Number one this year is “integrated marketing communications,” which ranked fourth in last year’s survey.

The second highest concern is “accountability,” a top concern a year ago, and still a key issue for marketers to address. The next was “aligning marketing organization with innovation,” which was second a year ago and continues to be a key issue marketers are focusing on again this year.

One of the most interesting moves in position comes from “Consumer control over what/how they view advertising.” That moved up two spots to number six this year, from number eight last year.

The rankings from the ANA survey reflect the shift in Internet-based collaboration, consumer control, and user-generated content; which are pushing marketers to rethink how they invest their resources and address emerging opportunities.

This begs the question, how are marketers and marketing organizations planning to address these top concerns?

Another recent survey provided a compelling insight into this same question: Forrester’s “Marketing Technology Adoption Survey.”

The number one area of marketing investment from this Forrester survey was for “Web interaction optimization” technology, which is also known as “On-site behavioral targeting.”

The concept of this technology is simple but powerful: leverage the behavior of each individual customer on the Web site to determine which content to display to that visitor, based on exhibited behavior and interests. Think of it like a grocery store aisle being customized for each individual shopper, which ultimately helps drive customer satisfaction.

This top ranked technology as an investment was not even listed in the 2005 survey. So let’s examine how this top priority from the Forrester survey aligns with the newly published ANA survey.

On-site behavioral targeting is certainly integrated marketing in an important strategic way, unique to the Web channel. On-site behavioral targeting allows for a new direction in integrated marketing that also ties in the sixth concern in the ANA survey: consumer control over what and how they view advertising.

On-site behavioral targeting enables the customers’ own behavior to dictate the content, messaging, advertising, creative and promotions that they see on the Web site at a one-to-one level. Every aspect of the customer experience is integrated for each visitor, including how he or she arrived at the site and the search term used on Google or Yahoo. Everything the visitor has seen previously and what they are interested in viewing in the current visit is considered in deciding what content to display to each visitor.

What we are talking about is a new marketing concept that blends together several existing concepts: one-to-one, real-time marketing integration, where the customer directly influences their experience.

What about accountability? Since the Web is the most accountable medium for tracking ROI, on-site behavioral targeting also allows for exact measurement of the uplift created from this type of integrated targeting, which helps address the second concern around “Accountability” from the ANA survey. In addition, on-site behavioral targeting ties into the third concern around “aligning the marketing organization with innovation,” at least for the early adopters of this technology as they are already witnessing dramatic uplift in the range of more than 100 percent conversion rates from consumer-controlled content.

In conclusion, it appears that these two surveys indicate that marketers are increasingly focusing their investments to address their biggest issues and concerns. The latest ANA survey shows that the issues weighing heaviest on marketing executives’ minds are reflected in the technology investments they are making.

With integrated marketing being such a top concern, it’s good news to see separate, independent surveys align to reassure marketers that they are investing in the right areas to address their top concerns in 2007.

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