CMOs to agencies: adapt or die

The CMO Council released their latest report on client/agency effectiveness this week. (You can download a free executive summary from that link, or spring $199 for the full report.)

Out of the myriad of survey-driven stats from 6,000 corporate marketers across a wide range of major brands, one figure stands out as particularly striking: only 9% of senior marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities in the digital age.

When 91% of your customers think you’re a dinosaur, that can’t be good.

Only 9% of marketers think traditional agencies are evolving

From the CMO Council’s press release:

“There’s an underlying level of frustration among senior corporate marketers worldwide when it comes to agency contributions to business value creation, strategic thinking, and digital marketing development,” noted Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, whose members control more than $300 billion in aggregated marketing spend each year. “Our members report quite a bit of switching of digital marketing resources, as well as a view that big, global agencies don’t have a truly integrated offering and capacity to execute in an effective, localized way in emerging markets.

So what are marketers doing about this dissatisfaction?

  • 49% are planning to change or consolidate agency rosters within the next 12 months (another 15% are considering it)
  • 48% are hiring specialized digital marketing solution and service providers to implement new social, mobile, and interactive strategies
  • 47% plan to build internal capabilities and use incumbent agency services less
  • 45% are bringing in outside consultants to help set up and structure digital programs

Ring. Ring. “Hello, managing director, it’s Charles Darwin on line 1.”

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7 thoughts on “CMOs to agencies: adapt or die”

  1. Scott,
    Thanks for the post. This is a huge issue for corporate marketers, and an even bigger opportunity for marketing agencies that successfully evolve.
    As I wrote in The Marketing Agency Blueprint, “The old guard, rooted in tradition and resistant to change, will fall and new leaders will emerge. Hybrid marketing agencies that are more nimble, tech savvy, and collaborative will redefine the industry. Digital services will be ingrained into the DNA of every agency and blended with traditional methods to execute integrated campaigns.”
    Hopefully reports like the CMO Council’s will be the wake-up calls traditional agencies need.

  2. That’s a great story if you work with an agency that’s knocking itself out to stay at the leading edge of digital developments.
    I’m going to dig deeper to find out more about WHAT exactly these CMOs are missing from their traditional agency offerings. The inability to execute effectively and in a localized way in emerging markets was certainly eye-opening.
    Thanks for sharing this, Scott.

  3. This is right on the money. The future belongs to the agile – those agencies that can adapt to the new reality (see: The New Digital Agency: Advertising in the Age of Cloud Computing at
    Keep up the great posts Scott.

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