I recently came across the following quote from Carla Hendra, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather North America: “CMOs are under increasing pressure to deliver business results and to demonstrate the contribution that marketing makes to their organization. The days of guess work and soft metrics are over — Math Marketing is the future.”
A couple of reactions to the quote:
First, not everything is measurable. Love isn’t, apathy isn’t – just to name two.
Second, trends can’t always be predicted, and needs can’t always be anticipated, based upon what currently exists and is measurable.
I have no issue with being accountable. But I do have an issue with fear (in the guise of accountability) killing creativity. That would be a little like agency creatives only developing ads to beat the norms in copy testing; this has only ever produced average or slightly above average ads. I’m convinced that the original Apple “1984” ad would not have tested well to norms.
I would really dislike seeing CMOs turn into “CFOs in new clothes.” I do understand the digital environment affords marketers more avenues for reaching micro-targets, and I think it and its arsenal of new tools is a wonderful thing. My primary concern is that the more CMOs are into the numbers, the greater the risk they won’t see the complexity of the people they’re trying to reach.
Early in my career, while working at Foote, Cone & Belding, I was called to jury duty in downtown Los Angeles. The case took several days and I got to know some of my fellow jurors. One – I can still see him to this day – was an African American man, about 60 years of age, who very tall and thin, and had spent his working career as a highway-sign laminator (and eventually supervisor) for the state. He had six grown children, all of whom he’d put through college; he himself hadn’t finished high school. To this day, he remains one of the wisest men I’ve ever met. Demographically, he was easy to categorize: older, less-well educated, African American male. Yet, even at 24, I knew that I had learned a life-long lesson from him: if I’d only seen him demographically, from my ivory tower, I would have missed the richness of his life and what I could learn from him.
Ultimately, what we learn when in relationships (yes, even with customers), makes for stronger relationships. My hope is that Math Marketing doesn’t leave the consumer too far removed from the equation.