Everything I Wished I Had Known About Advertising and Media as a CMO, but Didn’t

March 26, 2015

After twenty plus years at Procter & Gamble and American Express, I was ready to graduate to a big CMO role at UBS. And, like everyone who steps up into the big marketing leadership role, I thought:



At last. Now I can put into action everything that I’ve learned about advertising and media over my career.


And nowhere did that thinking apply more than advertising and media. After all, what top rank CMO doesn’t think they know it all when it comes to the most core part of marketing—communicating with your customers?


Here’s the good news: while I was ignorant, you don’t have to be. In fact, any smart CMO can improve advertising and media effectiveness by 50% or more by adopting some or all of the leanings below.


Eight Maxims for More Effective Advertising and Media


  1. Advertising is more than ROI. Advertising is not just about ROI. There are two other critically important ingredients to advertising success: reach and resonance. They’re the drivers of sales and ROI. Reaching your intended audience, but with advertising that doesn’t resonate, isn’t going to drive a great outcome. Neither is highly resonant advertising delivered to the wrong audience. Focus on reach and resonance, not just ROI.


  1. Your most valuable audience isn’t who you think. I used to believe that my target audience was also my most valuable audience. Not necessarily. Buyer behavior is a stronger predictor of advertising response than demographics alone. So, finding the most volumetrically —your results by 30% plus.


  1. The reality of digital—it’s not very precise. I was seduced by the potential of digital advertising’s limitless ability to precisely target consumers. The reality: on average, only 59% of digital advertising impressions are delivered to the intended audience. Measure audience delivery every day, by site and placement, so that you can get the most for your media spend.


  1. Reach still matters—more than ever. In a world of cross-screen ad syncing, programmatic, and real time bidding, etc., one truth remains above all others—reach really matters. Why? It’s been proven time and again that reach is more important than frequency. Driving high levels of unduplicated reach in a world of increasing media fragmentation is more important than ever—do you have the tools to do so?


  1. Leverage the subconscious for better ads. Traditional copy testing is blunt, weak at diagnostics, and largely missing the subconscious part of advertising response. EEG based neuro copy testing addresses these deficiencies. Neuro copy testing can use second-by-second measurement to compress :30 ads into :15s without loss of fidelity—to dramatically increase your media efficiency.


  1. Real time is real—New technologies enable CMO’s to measure the resonance and even sales impact of ads on a daily or weekly basis. This enables real time optimization of the key ad effectiveness levers to maximize performance versus waiting for a “post” assessment which is too late to take any real action.


  1. The future of marketing is now—Imagine being able to plan, measure and optimize your marketing programs through centralized enterprise marketing platform. You can. It includes:a) a database that houses millions of your customers and prospects information;
    b) longitudinal tracking of exposure to your marketing plan touchpoints and purchase behavior;
    c) analytics which attribute sales value to each touchpoint; and
    d) direct connections to the programmatic digital buying systems to drive better sales results through algorithms and machine-learning.


  1. Make Your CFO Your Best Friend—Lurking in the back of many CMO’s mind is the “am I just a CMO with no clothes?” question—e.g., is Marketing just overhead? Here’s a different idea: make your CFO your best friend. How? Educate her on how advertising works. Set goals. Measure your advertising impact. Get your CFO’s agreement to invest behind success. Make Marketing a financial driver, not just overhead.

Those are the eight maxims for CMO advertising success. It took me five years at Nielsen and multiple meetings with smart, savvy and sophisticated clients to learn what I didn’t know about advertising and media success.

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