Oath digital prophet Shingy defends CMOs from industry criticism

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 19 December 2018

Chief marketing officers (CMO) are "under attack" more than ever before thanks to mounting pressures from agencies, publishers and other rising industry sectors, according to Oath 'digital prophet' David Shing - aka 'Shingy'.

Shing believes expectations put on those in the top marketing role are too high and this is clouding what the role is actually about.

Speaking to AdNews, Shing, who is a thought leader for the Verizon-owned business, said the CMO was traditionally a "siloed" role but has since been forced to become more fluid, with conversations extending beyond marketing and into areas such as data, technology and consultancies. 

As such, it's a prime role for being criticised and is particularly under fire from main business areas; creative and media agencies, publishers, technology providers, publishers and now, the rising tide of consultancies.

"Both media and creative agencies are aware that they don't own real assets, but they do have influence in how and where media should be placed so they're now trying to exert more of that over marketers to show value," Shing said.

"Then you have tech companies coming in and saying CMOs should be looking more at data and their product, trying to reinforce their point-of-view.

"Then there are publishers like us forcing this idea of 'you need to editorialise the shit out of your brand', but you don't know how to do it, so let us teach you.

"It's a non-stop barrage."

Shing added that media agencies have the most work to do when "getting the attention" of CMOs, stating that most should be worried about how they are providing value to brand leaders.

"That's why it's a great time for agencies to be having those internal discussions as they're aware of their value and what needs to change," Shing said, adding that the agency model needs to change to get a seat on the boardroom table.

"There is a reality now that there are more people trying to vie for their attention to cement their place within a brand, and that all goes through the CMO."

Shing said a real consideration should be to reconfigure the role, with chief digital officers and CMOs working more hand in hand to tackle the advancements going on within the industry.

"People just want to pick on the CMO, but the truth is the role of a marketer is no longer just the head of brand," he said.

"It's moved beyond the typical four or five key objectives and now sits at 25, with things like experiential, augmented reality, sound branding and other developing channels creating further conversations around brand," he said.

"The role will always be about working to develop strategies for these new channels, however with the average time in the role only 18 months, the expectations are too high and that level of tangible change can't be realised."

In 2017 Coca Cola axed the CMO role in global restructure and the same year Unilever ANZ cut the CMO role.

Shing said while the CMO's responsibility is constantly evolving, not always for the better, it would never be made defunct.

He said the CMO remains the best external and, more importantly internal, advocate for any brand, but businesses need to look for further ways to build an efficient and long-lasting team around that person.

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