Mar 12 2020
Opal Gamble

Performance Marketing Playbook for CMOs


With new and changing advertising technologies at every turn, being an enterprise CMO has never been an easy task. But before you can solve the problem, you must understand the factors influencing the rough seas of performance marketing.

Let’s look at the top three issues faced by CMOs and performance marketers in 2020:

1. Walled Gardens

Facebook and Google are data giants. Facebook holds audience and behavioral data on more than 2.375 billion monthly active users, allowing advertisers to use this information to make targeting decisions on their advertising platform. 

Google takes a similar approach, controlling bidding and bid landscape data for competitive analysis, and offering valuable query level search data. There are also significant amounts of audience behavioral data across Google-owned properties that it uses to create new targeting options such as “in-market” and “affinity” audiences. 

This setup is incredibly lucrative for advertisers, but it does also create some inherent limitations. Facebook and Google own this data and control it completely. Advertisers have no way to use it for their own analytic purposes outside of the platforms. This so-called "walled garden" data management is largely why Facebook and Google make up 90% of the advertising industry’s annual growth. 

The result? CMOs are faced with a serious dilemma: they can’t stop using platforms like Google and Facebook for advertising, but they need to find ways to improve their own data collection and management beyond what these walled gardens provide.

2. Data Protection Laws

Regulatory acts such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have significant implications for the advertising industry, limiting how advertisers can collect consumer data, what kind of data they can collect, and how long it’s legal to store it. Advertisers end up working with a smaller customer database, making it more difficult to deliver relevant, interesting marketing messages. 

Digital privacy is very important, but new regulations are making it increasingly difficult for performance marketers to deliver the user experience consumers deserve when presented with ads. It also makes it significantly more challenging to deliver a marketing message that drives clicks and conversions. 

3. Disruptions from Big Players in the Marketing Industry

Walled gardens and data protection laws are affecting the advertising industry as a whole. Meanwhile, other big players are significantly disrupting specific industries, with implications that could be far more wide-reaching. 

As an example, let’s look at Apple Card. It’s easy enough for Apple to get a significant number of brand loyalists to sign up for the credit card so they can start benefiting from its perks and integrations. 

While Apple is trying to dominate payments, Google is working to control the customer relationship with a variety of industries, such as travel, with Google Assistant. Many marketers in the travel industry are left with little choice but to maximize their marketing budget for Google to get visibility. 

At the same time, Amazon is reshaping eCommerce marketing having stopped buying products from many of its wholesalers, and encouraging eCommerce businesses to sell directly on Amazon Marketplace. Amazon’s ad sales are increasing by 37% year-over-year, valuing its advertising business at over $10 billion in 2019.

What Do these Challenges Mean for Performance Marketing?

There are lots of factors impacting how CMOs can approach their marketing strategy today. Gartner’s 2019 CMO spend survey revealed that marketing budgets have dropped to their lowest levels since 2014. This can be in response to economic variables, confidence, and many of the emerging issues discussed above.

To work around the challenges that big players like Google, Amazon, and Facebook present, in addition to surviving the impact of data protection laws, CMOs need to be hugely strategic in their budget investment. For example: 

  • Forecasting budget scenarios across media channels to inform actual investment. 
  • Consistently assessing the efficacy of paid media channels for performance factors and changes in the regulatory environment surrounding data privacy. 
  • Using automation to reduce the time invested in tedious, low-value tasks and improve the effectiveness and efficacy of your bidding and targeting decisions. 
  • Using more nuanced metrics to determine value and marketing success, including brand metrics, performance and efficiency metrics, conversion metrics, loyalty and satisfaction metrics. 
  • Employing strategies that encourage your audience to identify with your business. Using special discount offers or rewards programs can help you collect valuable user information rather than relying solely on walled garden platforms like Facebook and Google. 
  • Using data management platforms to track customer behavior and build profiles you can use for better audience targeting. 

There’s no denying that these strategies require significant changes for most businesses to succeed. CMOs need to employ new technologies and campaign strategies in unison to fully benefit. This can mean reevaluating your MarTech stack, investing more in your marketing team, or enlisting the help of external agencies to manage these decisions.