Harriet Durnford-Smith, Adverity: How data is impacting modern marketing

Harriet Durnford-Smith, Adverity.

Harriet Durnford-Smith, Adverity: How data is impacting modern marketing Duncan is an award-winning researcher, with 20 years experience of analysing the technology industry, specialising in cloud computing, edge computing, blockchain, cybersecurity and marketing technology.

Could you tell us a little bit about Adverity and how it can help organisations?

Advanced data analytics is more accessible to a wider range of companies than ever before. We’re proud to be among the innovators who’ve made that happen. 

Back in 2015, Adverity was founded with the aim of helping every organisation quickly and easily drive insight-driven decisions. Today, our solution enables brands, agencies, and organisations to fuel maximum value using data. By democratising leading-edge marketing technology, we’ve helped level the playing field between smaller and enterprise businesses.

What the platform does is turn siloed data into unified, reliable, and actionable insight. How it achieves this is rooted in the connected infrastructure and intelligent capabilities of our fully owned end-to-end system. By automatically integrating data from multiple sources, it cuts through omni-channel complexity and allows marketers to gain a complete view of their real-time performance and ROI – or what we call the ‘single source of truth’.

How do you think data is reshaping the role of the CMO?

After a decade of adaptation, CMOs can expect more of the same. Although accelerated over the last few years, digitisation has already reshaped their role — driving endless waves of emerging channels and platforms, but also more scope to manage activity effectively. 

Using smarter tools, they can execute far-reaching campaigns, apply holistic real-time measurement, and power smart in-flight adjustments. While improved ability to demonstrate their impact on the bottom line has rightfully given CMOs a seat at the board table, it’s also added more pressure. Modern CMOs face high expectations of precise accountability and multi-tasking efficiency, which are only set to grow as the marketing landscape continues to become more complex. 

CMOS must become masters of both data and strategy. Securing a constant flow of up-to-date intelligence is part of this, as is moving away from cumbersome legacy practices. But it will be equally important to focus on agile data use. Adopting a scientific mindset is vital for CMOs to keep moving forward by testing and learning, and most crucially, listening to what the data tells them about the next best move. 

How could automation trigger a renaissance of creative content?

The most obvious benefit of automation is its labour-saving potential. Our research shows manual wrangling is the top challenge for marketing departments, while 43% of CMOs say teams spend more time getting data in one place than using it. 

Automating these processes will free teams up to unleash greater creativity. Instead of wrestling data into order and pouring through spreadsheets, they can focus on building inspiring creative that sets them apart from rivals and engages their target audience. In fact, we’ve seen firms win back 80% of their time via automation, on top of making large long-term cost savings. 

Then there are the strategic gains. With efficient analytics identifying what’s working (and what’s not), teams can fine-tune content and streamline channels that are performing well. This will reduce risk, wasted adpend, and situations such as launching the right campaign – at the wrong moment. We’re on the verge of an upgraded creative renaissance, with a new breed of intelligence leading the way. 

What skill sets does the modern marketing team need?

Teams must have the capacity to wield data as an asset that enables them to bolster their productivity, make shrewder choices, and find the best path to optimal outcomes. What that looks like for individual companies will naturally vary, but at the basic level, CMOs will need to ensure their teams have the knowledge to handle and apply diverse data.

This will typically involve a mix of robust data and tech literacy that equips all employees to confidently handle data and sophisticated tools. There are few things more frustrating than sinking resources into new solutions and then lacking the ability to use them. But as omnichannel complexity increases, there may also be a need for an in-house data champion. 

We’re starting to see a new role emerge, with 73% of CMOs committed to introducing a marketing ops position on their team. Taking the helm on coordinating tech stacks, monitoring data quality, and fuelling analysis, this new post will help eliminate barriers and keep data use running smoothly. 

What advice would you give to companies that are looking to attract and upskill marketing talent?

Don’t let the talent management balance tip too far towards hiring. As the requirement for sharper digital and data skills surges, companies may be forgiven for thinking the simplest route to building the capabilities they need lies with recruitment. However, in our latest CMO survey, 66% feel it’s harder to hire new employees with a data background than to upskill their current team.

So even though recruitment remains a key priority, marketers must also invest in up-skilling. Deloitte research shows nearly one in four (36%) firms that have up-skilled staff are now rated as ‘masters’ or ‘advanced’ on the data maturity scale – showing clear company benefits. However, let’s not forget the individuals too. Many marketers will be eager to progress and hone their own data skills, and will favour companies who are invested in taking them on this journey.

To what extent do you think CMOs need to take the data revolution more seriously?

Every single strategic focus in our Marketing State of Play 2022 report was data dependent: from audience building to precision targeting and campaign reporting. Senior leaders know data will play an integral part in realising near-term objectives and maintaining their competitive edge. 

But the research also reveals an essential area they are not taking as seriously as they should: data practicalities. Where 63% of CMOs say they are making data-based decisions, around half (47%) feel they are short on data-driven recommendations needed to enhance performance and 34% don’t even trust their own data. Combined with findings that 58% of teams still build reports in spreadsheets and a whopping 77% are yet to achieve unified performance insight, it’s clear there’s a sizeable gulf between perceived ability and true data maturity. 

CMOs can’t overlook the fundamentals of good data organisation. Before they can start flexing their data muscle, they must pay more attention to building the essential foundations for using data well.

What plans does Adverity have for the year ahead?

The ambition to transform marketing with increasingly intelligent and accessible analysis is never done. In addition to honing predictive capabilities that will enable marketers to create forward-looking strategies, we’re constantly refining components of our stack for greater efficiency. 

What’s kept us on course is living by our values. We believe transparent top-down communication and a clear shared vision is paramount to ensure every team member feels included and motivated. This mantra has allowed us to continue on our growth trajectory – doubling in size annually for the last few years – while retaining our culture, as Adverity sets its sights even higher. 

Harriet Durnford-Smith, CMO, Adverity, will take part in a panel discussion titled ‘Rethinking the Role of the CMO’ at DMWF Global on June 29. Join the panel of CMOs to find out what key changes and challenges the modern CMO is about to come up against in the coming years. For further details, visit the DMWF Global website.

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