Some marketing execs can’t handle the truth

OCTOBER 12, 2011 – Market research and the internet can provide a wealth of information to advertisers, but apparently, it’s too much for some to digest.

IBM conducted a survey of 1,700 chief marketing officers from around the world and found that many acknowledge a major transformation in the way companies interact with and learn from consumers, but some are not sure how to handle it. According to the study, approximately 90 percent of all the current data was generated in the past two years, and that amount is growing by 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.

While consumers have proven that they are more than willing to share personal details on social media networks, the study found that just 26 percent of respondents monitor blogs, 48 percent incorporate what’s said on consumer reviews into designing their marketing strategies and only 42 percent read third-party reviews. A large majority – 82 percent- reported plans for boosting social media use over the course of the next three to five years.

Additionally, even though the CMOs said they know real-time data can shore up the traditional forms of marketing, 80 percent of respondents said they rely on those traditional sources of information rather than pulling more insight from social media. Those who focus on the latter “will be far better prepared to anticipate future shifts in markets and technology,” the researchers said.

Measuring the effectiveness of campaigns will also be a big priority going forward. Of the responding CMOs, almost two-thirds said the main metric that will be used in the industry by 2015 will be the return on marketing investment. The research also indicates that 56 percent of companies are turning to social media to engage with their consumers. However, many are still at a loss when it comes to getting insight from the “unstructured data that customers and potential customers produce.”

“The inflection point created by social media represents a permanent change in the nature of customer relationships,” stated Carolyn Heller Baird, CRM research lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value and the global director of the study. She added that nearly 90 percent of the real-time data that companies are currently collecting is unstructured.

“CMOs who successfully harness this new source of insight will be in a strong position to increase revenues, reinvent their customer relationships and build new brand value,” Baird said.

Marcel Holsheimer, of IBM’s enterprise marketing management division, told Research Live that businesses which do not quickly evolve with technology and start incorporating it into their processes will fall behind and eventually fail. Collecting data is one thing, but the companies also need to adopt analytics and other tools to make sense of what they’re viewing and act upon the insight.

“Marketing is becoming much more of a technology play than it was in the past,” he told the news source, adding that in the future, companies will be applying software solutions that will make marketing “so good it feels like a service.”

According to InformationWeek, keeping track of big data has long been a challenge and source of discomfort for many. The source reports that during the annual MDM & Data Governance Summit, hosted by the MDM Institute, attendees learned about the importance of keeping their customer relationship management (CRM) data – which is meant to address transactions and functions of the business – separate from the “hierarchies and uniqueness” of master data management.