New Report: Brands Shift Budgets To Influencers, Leverage AI

A recent report by CreatorIQ reveals that 67 percent of all marketing firms increased their budgets for influencer marketing between 2022 and 2023, with 76 percent diverting funds from other marketing channels to do so. While approximately 61 percent of brands that used influencers saw a substantial increase in their sales, many are now looking toward AI to enhance the impact of influencer marketing.

Brands Focus On Measurement And Optimizing Influencer ROI

According to the report Can Creator-Led Marketing Really Drive ROI?, based on a survey by CreatorIQ, 94 percent of organizations could attribute direct sales to creator content, and brands are now using influencers to boost campaign performance across multiple channels. Seventy-six percent increased their budgets to bring influencers into digital, email (48 percent) and owned social (42 percent). According to the report, 51 percent of firms were proactive in evaluating influencer impact, tracking consumer engagement levels, conversion rates (28 percent) and quality of impressions (11 percent). 

As marketers review the numbers, they are also thinking about how to expand the value of their investment in influencers. This has led some marketers to introduce AI as a component of their influencer strategy to enhance campaign performance. In a recent survey by Influencer Marketing Hub in The State of AI In Influencer Marketing 2023, 63 percent of marketer respondents planned to use AI to identify potential influencers or help them manage their campaigns.

Despite many marketers’ interest in integrating AI with their existing influencer strategy, efforts to replace human creators with AI influencers have produced mixed results. While 49 percent of marketers saw virtual influencers as highly effective, consumers in a study quoted in the report found virtual influencers less trustworthy and distant than human influencers. In addition, the survey found no substantial difference between the purchase intentions of consumers interacting with virtual and human influencers. According to the report—that may mean both virtual and human influencers have an equal potential to stoke purchase intent.

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

But other data shows that AI-powered influencer experiences can drive meaningful engagement for specific demographics such as Gen Alpha and female audiences.

The Takeaway:

Influencers can deliver powerful results for brands, but AI shouldn’t be ignored as a tool to optimize influencer investment. While consumers may not trust virtual influencers as much as their human counterparts, consumers still follow and interact with AI influencer content. That means savvy marketers can leverage the power of engaging human influencers and adopt AI tools to speed content creation and automate repetitive content tasks without compromising performance.

Marketers See Retail Media As 2023’s Most Effective Digital Channel

While only 22 percent of American digital advertisers used retail media as a part of their strategy in 2022, per Statista, many marketers are changing their view of its bottom-funnel capabilities. While analysts predict digital ad spending will grow by just 7.8 percent this year, retail media network spending is projected to rise by 9.9 percent, per RetailWire, with retail media ad sales projected to soar by 19.7 percent per eMarketer. A recent report by LiveIntent based on a survey of over 200 U.S. marketers revealed that most respondents are now bullish on retail media and plan to shift their budgets toward retail media networks.

Marketers Want More Retail Media Inventory And Measurement Capabilities

According to LiveIntent’s “The 2023 Retail Media Market Report: Unlocking Adoption, Mastering Best Practices, Overcoming Challenges & Driving Performance,” 63 percent of marketers surveyed stated that they saw retail media advertising as more effective than other digital channels, with 73 percent saying that they planned to increase investment in 2023.

According to the report, marketers saw retail media networks as a locus of new opportunities to engage audiences and glean valuable insights. Per the survey findings:

  • Seventy percent of advertisers believe retail media networks will likely increase customer engagement and sales for retailers. 
  • Sixty-five percent of retailers think that retail media can provide them with expanded revenue opportunities for advertising and sponsorship.
  • Fifty-six percent of retailers see retail media as a significant source of first-party data to support a user experience personalization strategy.
  • Forty-five percent of retailers believe building the employment of retail media will be first-party data as third-party cookies become obsolete.

Approximately 60 percent of advertisers planned to use retail media networks to target customers with discounts, deals, and relevant search ads. Another 43 percent planned to use retail media content with AR or VR content.

Advertisers also stated they want access to more video (64 percent) and connected TV and streaming (57 percent) options. That tracks with recent findings from Insider Intelligence which reports that by 2024, retail media will be the fastest-growing ad format, outpacing linear TV ad spending by 2025.

There’s also a lot to love with respect to retail media’s access to consumer data, according to marketers surveyed by LiveIntent. Logged-in consumers opt-in to data sharing while on retail sites. This makes targeted and audience analytics simple for retailers and brand marketers. It allows them to harvest consumer preferences, purchase, and search consumers that can direct and enrich real-time targeting and optimize user experiences.

Fifty-six percent of marketers surveyed believe retail media will lead to more relevant and engaging deal offers, and 59 percent of respondents believe retail media can also enhance in-store consumers’ shopping experiences. But there are caveats. While retail media networks can earn a profit margin of as much as 80 percent from ad sales, 44 percent of advertisers in the LiveIntent report cited problems with accurate campaign measurement as an ongoing issue. That’s a powerful motivation for retail media networks to relentlessly promote their channels even when they cannot offer marketers the tools they need to drill down and examine granular performance insights.

“Many of our clients are spending a lot of money advertising on retail media networks (RMNs) – especially on retail search channels,” According to April Carlisle, EVP of Spark Foundry, speaking to Ad Exchanger, “But they’re still just hitting the same households.”  

As the number of RMNs grows, marketers are faced with a lot of choices, but the need for better results may be driving brand marketers to use a wide range of networks in a trial-and-error fashion, even when performance is lackluster. 

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Source: McKinsey & Company

Marketers Now Use Multiple Retail Media Networks To Drive Sales

According to a recent report by The Association of National Advertisers, 75 percent of advertisers using retail media networks (RMNs) cite driving new sales as their most crucial goal in using RMNs, with fifty-six percent employing five or more retail media networks (RMNs) and 40 percent use five to nine different RMNs. Sixteen percent use ten or more RMNs.

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Source: McKinsey & Company

 “As budgets get cut,” the report quotes one survey respondent, “RMN programs have remained largely intact. This is shifting the balance of our overall marketing budget from building brand equity to driving product sales.” The report states that fifty-eight percent of advertisers surveyed expect to be using more RMNs than they are today by 2024, and 73 percent expect to be spending “somewhat or significantly more” on RMNs than they did in 2022.

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Source: ANA

While brand marketers are looking at traditional metrics like return on advertising spend (ROAS), they are also looking at other metrics that offer deeper insights, such as “new-to-brand,” to assess which RMNs drive the highest sales and awareness.

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Source: Statista

The Takeaway for Marketers: As behemoths like Walmart expand their RMNs, marketers are shifting spending toward retail media for its bottom-funnel capabilities and access to first-party data from logged-in users. Yet advertisers need more certainty in determining which RMN will offer the best value over time. Because the marketplace is fragmented, access to accurate real-time performance data will be vital in avoiding wasted spend. Marketers should also attempt to leverage tools to compare historical and current results between RMNs over time. Incremental sales can be an essential revenue source. Logged-in RMN consumers may scale their purchasing behavior as marketing content stokes engagement. However, marketers may miss opportunities to convert them without access to a comprehensive, multi-platform analytics tool.

Striking The Balance Between Intuition And Information With Oded Netzer, Co-Author Of “Decisions Over Decimals”

Oded Netzer is a world-renowned expert in data-driven decision-making. He serves as the Vice Dean of Research and the Arthur J. Samberg Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, Oded is the first in his family to attend college. After graduation, he spent some time working in a chicken house but quickly decided that wasn’t for him. After a quick stop at a consulting firm, he returned to college to climb the academic research ladder and pursue a career in education. Currently, he splits his time between teaching as an affiliate of the Columbia University Data Science Institute and consulting as an Amazon Scholar. He has published dozens of papers in the world’s leading marketing and management science journals, and his award-winning research is widely read and highly cited.

In this episode, Oded and I discuss “Decisions Over Decimals,” Oded’s latest co-authored book with Christopher Frank, Vice President of the Global Advertising and Brand Management team at American Express, and Paul Magnone, Head of Global Strategic Alliances at Google, who are also professors at Columbia. Having worked on the front lines and taught future executives, they identified two data myths that served as the inspiration for this book. Oded presents these myths and explores the three core pillars of quantitative intuition covered in the book, highlighting how marketers can improve decision-making by understanding these concepts.

Oded advises against the inclination to rush to find a solution and instead encourages spending more time understanding the problem. According to Oded, a well-thought-out problem is already half-solved. This interview and the book emphasize the significance of asking insightful questions and properly defining the problem. This approach is evident in the emergence of Prompt Engineers for tools like ChatGPT, where precise questioning leverages quantitative intuition to achieve desired outcomes.

The conversation also touches upon unstructured data and its implications for marketers in terms of analysis, decision-making, customer listening, and demonstrating that marketing is not just a cost but can also drive revenue.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • “Decisions Over Decimals”: Why this book and why now?
  • What we should be thinking about in terms of good data-based decision-making
  • How quantitative intuition is relevant to Prompt Engineers using tools like ChatGPT

Key Highlights:

  • [01:50] The son of a Holocaust survivor
  • [03:45] From the chicken house to the university classroom
  • [06:30] Why this book and why now?
  • [09:25] Three pillars of quantitative intuition
  • [16:30] “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
  • [18:00] Analyst in Wonderland
  • [21:00] Prompt Engernerrs
  • [23:15] What is so special about ChatGPT?
  • [25:45] The best is yet to come with AI.
  • [28:00] How should we think about unstructured data?
  • [30:50] Connecting marketing with unstructured data
  • [35:20] Gen Z pushing for “doing well by doing good”
  • [38:00] What excites Oded in the marketing space now?
  • [39:55] Travel is the best teacher.
  • [40:50] Enjoy the journey.
  • [41:30] Generative AI and creating a win-win
  • [42:10] Brands to watch
  • [44:30] Gen Z and AI are driving the future

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

How Max’s ‘Succession’ Won Earned Media And Boosted Its Ad-Supported Tier

Since its debut in 2018, Max’s drama series “Succession” has been one of the most-covered television series in the last few years, with over a thousand articles covering the finale alone.

While Max still has fewer ad-supported tier subscribers than other networks, it has a powerful pitch as a destination for prestige advertisers seeking the attention of affluent customers. That’s because earned media value (EMV) can serve as a barometer for advertisers, showing them the best place to invest their budgets to reach targeted audiences.

Source: MediaPlay News

Source: MediaPlay News

Decoding Succession’s Earned Media Surge

Succession’s buzz continues to surge, even when many of those articles, as Axios points out, fall well below the readership of posts about less trendy shows, like “Young Sheldon.” But the show’s earned media power is not only based on its cool factor: the show’s appeal to publishers may play a role in a surge in advertising dollars that have funneled into Max’s new ad-supported subscriber tier. That rise signals Max’s new efforts to appeal to advertisers may be working—and earned media is likely playing a powerful role in that success.

Advertisers covet Max’s core demographic, which since 2020 has earned the loyalty of adults aged 22-44 as well as more affluent households. In its first quarter report for the year, Warner Bros. announced WBD was the “most-watched Total TV linear portfolio among 25-54.”

Source: Axios

(Advertisers’) Money Wins: How Earned Media Drives Value

Source: YouTube

HBO saw a 29 percent surge in advertising revenue in the first quarter, along with 1.6 million new subscribers, driven by its ad-supported tier, per Warner Bros. Discovery. The brand also decreased its operating expenses by 24 percent and its cost of revenue by 8 percent over the previous quarter—meaning the company is doing everything possible to optimize spending while cutting costs.

Yet with “Succession”’s finale, Max brought in just two sponsors, Mercedes-Benz and Vital Farms; the latter of which presented a 15-second pre-roll video highlighting the brand’s ESG commitments in a spot called “Keeping It Bullsh*t Free.” That limited inventory model may mean that Max focuses on the appeal of high-impact, long-play ads tied to content that packs a similar powerful punch.

“What we thought was really interesting is that we have this [ad] spot that talks about corporate bullshit, and here is a show that is about corporate bullshit, and what an interesting juxtaposition we could create,” Vital Farms CMO Kathryn McKeon told Modern Retail. “And what a bold way of bringing an unexpected brand into a new advertising platform. So, not only was it interesting to be one of the first to try from a pure media standpoint, but the storylines and the interest of that tension made it so much richer of a place for us to bring our message.”

That appeal to advertisers is nowhere more evident than in Succession’s ability to garner social media engagement that is equivalent to a significant ad spend, even after the show is over.

For example, using Social Index, a tool that allows marketers to calculate dollar equivalencies for social media value, we see that a single finale highlight post generated over $66,000 in earned media value through audience engagement. 

(Subscribers) Are Not Serious People

The ability to calculate earned media has another significant role in driving revenue— keeping a channel or a popular show top of mind. As consumers discuss and interact with content around specific programming, the ability to calculate EMV allows marketers advertising on streaming services to identify new opportunities to stoke engagement and support new shows that might reach similar audiences. That’s a powerful strategy for advertisers seeking to connect with targeted audiences when popular shows like Succession end. Calculated EMV allows marketers to determine which streaming service offers content targeted audiences care about.

For example, using Social Index, we calculated that a recent YouTube post generated over $150k in EMV, representing the same amount in equivalent advertising value.

The ability to calculate EMV is also critical for marketers seeking clarity over the range of choices when selecting a streaming channel to support—for example—when marketers attempt to gauge the value of staying with Max as it transitioned from HBO to an expanded roster. 

EMV: Money Still Wins

Succession’s patriarch Logan Roy’s nihilistic catchphrase “money wins” often applies to how CMOs invest their streaming advertising budgets with networks that have popular shows that offer consistent earned media opportunities. As consumers view and share content around Succession and journalists cover the show, advertisers may gain new exposure as sponsors or direct advertisers. 

That’s a win-win for networks like HBO that need to not only hold on to existing subscribers and draw new ones but also prove to marketers that they can provide new opportunities to reach audiences beyond the viewers of top shows like Succession and The Last of Us.

As HBO became Max and added Discovery+ to its roster, it also gained lots of reality and family-oriented programming, which gives marketers new opportunities to reach audiences beyond fans of the former HBO’s prestige dramas. As Logan Roy famously said of his feckless children, subscribers are fickle and constantly searching for the next shiny object. That’s one reason HBO is promoting its war on “churn”—the phenomenon of consumers subscribing to watch a specific show and leaving when it’s over. Churn can hurt advertisers because consumers are attached to the show, not the network. Without the right mix of engaging content, networks lose subscribers or simply get a ton of trial subscribers who never pay and stay long enough to generate trackable engagement for brands.

“The real challenge is the churn,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said as he and CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels outlined plans to take Max to the promised land of profitability by next year. “With churn, it’s very difficult to build a strong business.”

Discovery+, launched in January 2021, has had a low churn rate. HBO Max, which launched in May 2020: not so much.

“Driving (down) that churn may be more important than driving the growth. If we can drive down the churn, the growth will be very substantial,” Zaslav said in a statement reported by Variety. “The more people that use it in the family, the more, the more engaged people are, the broader the offering, the lower the churn.”

The Takeaway For Marketers:

Max will offer many new opportunities for marketers to reach its niche, affluent and wider audiences through its combination of general interest shows and prestige programming. But finding where to direct your spending can be challenging since HBO/Max and Discovery+ content can be found on multiple platforms. One simple way to evaluate a potential spending choice is to look at the earned media surrounding specific programming, like “Succession” and its ilk.

Look for passionate fans but also coverage across publications that reach specific audiences—publishers are reading the analytics too, and coverage of shows that connect with findings from their first-party audience data tend to reflect what their readers want. So WSJ and Vanity Fair homages to “Succession” make a lot of sense if you read the data, even if the show’s actual viewership was much less than “House of the Dragon.” Once you know what your audience is saying on social media and the messaging that they engage with around specific programs, you’ll have meaningful insights for your creative and where your campaign should land. Learn more about earned media valuation and how Social Index makes it possible.

Establishing A Mutually Beneficial Partnership Model With Guillaume Bouvard, CMO At Extend

Guillaume Bouvard is the COO, CMO, and co-founder of Extend. He founded the company with two friends and credits their success to complementary skill sets, trust, shared values, and education. Before starting Extend, Guillaume spent 12 years at American Express in various roles, advising the C-Suite as a leader of the Strategic Planning Group for several years. Before Amex, Guillaume led marketing efforts at Capital One and earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

In this episode, Guillaume and I discuss what Extend does, why it uniquely benefits marketers and agencies, and how they utilize marketing within their B2B2B model. Extend is a platform that turns business credit cards into a full spend management platform. They do not compete with banks but rather partner with them and empower them to offer better add-on products to their clients. Those banks then have to give Extend access to those clients, the real end users. This B2B2C or B2B2B model has unique challenges. Extend must be strategic about how it markets and communicates to its banking partners to gain access to cardholders and ensure the partnership is beneficial for all parties. Guillaume and his co-founders believe that effective marketing efforts continue well after customers walk in the door. Whether it be through cross-selling or continued engagement, you have to get them, keep them, and increase their usage. The nature of marketing is understanding how to create a strategy to influence consumers. Guillaume tells us that marketers and marketing agencies are a large portion of Extend users, and he outlines several use cases that highlight why.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Guillaume’s founding story and how he has found success with his two other friends
  • What Extend does today in the virtual card and payment spaces
  • How Extend conceptualizes marketing to support their goals

Key Highlights:

  • [02:00] A friendship/business partner success story
  • [05:37] Guillaume’s career path
  • [08:20] What does Extend do?
  • [09:40] Extend isn’t competing with banks; it is partnering with them.
  • [11:30] How does extending help marketers specifically?
  • [17:20] Getting banking partners to promote Extend
  • [22:40] Halo benefits
  • [24:10] The value added for banking partners
  • [25:40] Organizing marketing to support GTM
  • [29:05] Measuring the impact of marketing
  • [32:30] Being pulled in two directions
  • [37:30] Advice to your younger self
  • [38:50] Everyone is talking about AI.
  • [40:40] Brands to watch
  • [42:50] The landscape is evolving. Marketers must do the same.

Resources Mentioned:

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 Connect with the Guest:

 Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Complexities In Marketing To A Broad Audience With Zach Kitschke, CMO At Canva

Zach Kitschke is the CMO of Canva, the online visual communication and collaboration platform. In his comprehensive role as CMO, Zach oversees the international brand and drives growth initiatives. He closely collaborates with teams responsible for product marketing, PR and communications, affiliates and performance, content, SEO, brand development, creative innovation, advertising, and product growth. Zach joined Canva in 2013, the year it launched. Since then, with a mission to empower the whole world to design, it has grown to over 130 million users each month in over 190 countries around the world, with more than 13 billion designs created.

In this episode, Zach and I discuss how visual content fits into our world today, Canva’s approach to marketing complexity, and the inspiration behind their newest “What will you design today?” campaign. Additionally, Zach provided insights from the recent Visual Economy Report, sharing noteworthy findings from a survey of 1,600 global business leaders. These insights revealed how visual content is being leveraged to foster stronger audience engagement. The business landscape has shifted towards a widespread need for employees to communicate visually and adopt creative roles, even if they don’t specialize in design. Zach highlighted the role of technology in fueling the creator economy and offered valuable tips on how to stand out in a sea of visual content.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Insights from the Visual Economy Report
  • How visual content fits into our world today and how to stand out
  • How Canva approaches its own marketing

Key Highlights:

  • [02:10] #GirlDads rock
  • [02:55] Zack’s path to Canva
  • [08:00] The Comprehensive CMO
  • [09:00] Visual Economy Report
  • [12:00] The creator economy
  • [13:30] How to stand out in a sea of visual content
  • [15:30] A living, breathing brand book?
  • [16:30] Who do you sell to when everyone is your customer?
  • [18:00] Harnessing complexity
  • [20:10] The marketing elements Canva focuses on
  • [22:15] Intrigue points are the on-ramp.
  • [24:10] Canva Community
  • [27:20] “What will you design today?”
  • [29:00] The impact of having immigrant grandparents
  • [31:50] It takes as long as it takes.
  • [33:50] Leaning into AI
  • [34:40] Brands to watch
  • [36:00] AMA on NPS

Resources Mentioned:

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 Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Post-Production Credits:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Brands Navigate Constant Disruption By Reimagining Marketing’s Role

According to a new report based on a survey of leaders of the Consumer Goods Forum, a group of 400 major retailers, manufacturers and service providers across more than 70 countries, brands are facing the formidable challenges of today’s marketplace by finding creative ways of driving revenue through a transformed approach to marketing.

The New Role Of Marketers: Navigating Uncertainty, Driving Innovation, Optimizing Spend

According to the report, “Pursuit Of Harmony In Turmoil: Working Together To Make A Difference,” developed in collaboration with EY, brands face a slew of growth barriers that require leaders to adjust to constant, disruptive change.

“Companies are forced to make tradeoffs between margin versus growth, investment versus cost, and price versus purpose,” the report reads, with some of the largest producers of consumer products in the world having to “strike a balance between rising costs, priceconscious consumers, shareholders’ needs, and their commitments to sustainable longterm growth.”

Brands are doing this by investing in new business models and a digital infrastructure that includes creating cross-functional teams that often place the onus for digital transformation on CMOs and by enacting new mandates to drive revenue amidst economic uncertainty. In a recent EY survey, seventy percent of CMOs stated that their roles had begun to blend with that of a chief digital officer, thereby increasing their responsibilities. That tracks with the new shift among business leaders toward harnessing the power of CMOs to drive revenue-focused optimization processes across the entire organization.

Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelez International Inc., a brand with over $26 billion in annual sales in 160 countries, sees the challenges that businesses face as transforming how sales and marketing teams interact and are defined and driven by digital innovation, per the report.

“Sales these days is all about Revenue Growth Management and digital tools,” Van de Put said. “It’s no longer about talking well and being in front of your client. Our next CMO could come from our digital group rather than somebody that grew up in brand management.”

Despite these shifts in duties, most CMOs in EY’s recent study reported that they had to petition for digital funding as needed, with 64 percent stating that their peers in finance “found it difficult to accept the unplanned nature of marketing expenses.”

That “difficulty” may be linked to many CMOs’ experience of flat budgets, even amid inflation.

Source: Gartner

According to a May 2023 report from Gartner, CMOs must do more with less while driving digital innovation and ensuring that branding duties are maintained. At the same time, new sales pressure due to marketplace uncertainty is making long-term, customer-focused strategy management challenging.

“In 2023, CMOs need to become a new type of enterprise leader,” said Ewan McIntyre, chief of research and VP analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “This goes beyond serving at the helm of the brand but also assuming a more business-focused role that pivots into a period of investing for profitability versus growth. Those that carry on status-quo will face significant challenges in the near-term.”

According to a LinkedIn global survey of C-level executives and 494 CMOs from late 2022, 77 percent of CMOs report feeling pressure to “prove their campaigns are providing an enhanced short-term return on investment.” Their feelings are likely based on fact: A survey of 1,619 brand marketers by Marketing Week revealed that 37 percent saw a marked increase in ROI tracking in 2022. Another 31 percent stated they would likely have to curb their creativity while 30 percent said they would have to operate more reactively.

With 75 percent of marketers reporting that they feel pressure to cut MarTech spending, delivering on performance and engaging customers while juggling innovation means a renewed focus on the customer. But today, optimizing customer experience is not enough.

Decoding The “Disrupted” Consumer

It’s no secret that consumers are concerned about inflation, but for marketers seeking to deliver on a new ROI mandate, those concerns make performance more complicated. Per EY’s “Pursuit Of Harmony In Turmoil: Working Together To Make A Difference,” 74 percent of consumers are concerned about the rising cost of living, and 56 percent are worried about their ability to purchase household necessities. Fifty-four percent also expect rising costs to worsen in the next six months. With 67 percent of surveyed consumers reporting that they now try to repair rather than replace items and nearly one-third shifting away from brand-name products, marketers have to do more than stoke brand loyalty—they have to focus on amplifying consumers’ willingness to spend at all.

“Consumers don’t just shift based on the way they buy; they shift their opinions faster than you think,” Van de Put said. “Since we are in such a period of turmoil, we are seeing big shifts in the mindset of consumers. There’s a change in shopping habits. They want to try more things. What was true before the pandemic and this inflationary period won’t necessarily be true after.”

The Takeaway For Marketers

First-quarter sales figures for 2023 show that consumers are spending on experiences and products and services that deliver unique value. They are even willing to cut back on tried-and-true brands or go-to products to try new things or brands that align with what matters most to them now. Consumers’ willingness to splurge in the midst of inflation worries suggests that marketers’ insights into their audience’s needs and priorities can convert them back to their brands.

That means it may be back to basics for consumer engagement—allowing CMOs to leverage their expertise to bring back “disrupted” consumers with a combination of value and values—a heightened expression of what makes a brand worth its price. That could occur either by alignment with ESG principles that drive much of Gen Z purchasing, for example, or the overall emotional impact of the product or the experience of it.

Marketing Is A Team Sport With Katie Krum, SVP And CMO At PURE Insurance

Katie Krum started her career at PURE in 2006 as the sixth employee at the insurance start-up. She played a significant role in shaping the brand, and throughout this process, she discovered her passion for marketing. Katie eventually left to develop her skill set at Nickelodeon, Marriott, Under Armour, and Weber Shandwick. She now leads a “small but mighty team” as the CMO at PURE, where she oversees all aspects of marketing communications and PR. One of the driving factors that drew her back to PURE was her incredible boss and her determination to explore innovative approaches to generate interest in insurance. She firmly believes in the power of collaboration, as she sees teams achieve more together than as individuals.

In this episode, Katie and I discuss the challenges involved in transitioning PURE from a company to a brand tailored specifically for high-net-worth families. Katie highlights the significant impact that service experiences have on driving progress. Katie’s expertise from other industries is instrumental in bringing attention to PURE’s distinctive “membership model” that sets them apart. Despite boasting a strong membership base with high renewal rates and an impressive net promoter score, consumer research revealed a lack of understanding of what PURE is all about to prospects and what they do for their members. This led to the launch of the “Join the Club” campaign, the development of a mobile-first brand book, and the redefinition of “excellent service.” As a first-time CMO, Katie infuses the insurance industry, which typically lacks excitement, with her enthusiasm and fresh perspective. She actively spearheads transformative changes and anticipates significant shifts in marketing team structure, performance evaluation, and the utilization of AI.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Katie returned to PURE
  • What sets PURE apart in the insurance industry
  • The benefits of having marketing communications and PR handled by one team

Key Highlights:

  • [01:25] Katie’s dearest dad
  • [05:00] Starting at PURE, leaving and learning, then coming back
  • [10:15] Why did she come back to insurance?
  • [12:30] What does PURE do?
  • [15:15] How is Katie building the brand?
  • [18:05] Research and ideation inform the plan.
  • [19:10] The history of insurance and what makes it PURE
  • [21:10] Benefits of blending marketing and PR into one team
  • [25:10] First-time CMO excitement
  • [26:00] Marketing is a team sport where we embrace crazy ideas.
  • [28:50] Pat yourself on the back and be the one that shows up.
  • [31:20] 3 important topics
  • [33:45] State and brands to watch
  • [36:45] The importance of post-pandemic reconnection

Resources Mentioned:

 Follow the podcast:

 Connect with the Guest:

 Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Post-Production Credits:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Podcasts Deliver On ROI And Engagement: Here’s How To Launch Your Strategy

Even in the midst of uncertainty, podcasts are providing brand marketers with new opportunities to drive ROI and engage new audiences. In this post, we’ll review some ways marketers can leverage the format to build engagement in creative ways.

Podcast ad revenues are expected to top $2.28 billion in the US in 2023 per Variety, a leap of 25 percent over 2022 spending. There’s good reason for advertisers’ confidence. A recent survey of 1,200 podcast listers showed that 95 percent of American consumers took relevant action after hearing a podcast ad, and 88 percent of Canadian listeners did as well, per MediaPost. Consumers are also listening longer to podcasts this year. According to The Infinite Dial Report by Edison Research in March:

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans aged 12-54 have listened to a podcast in the last month. 
  • Weekly podcast listeners heard an average of nine podcast episodes in the last week, up from eight podcasts in 2022. 
  • Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults who have ridden in a car in the last month say they listen to podcasts in the car, up from 32 percent in 2022.
  • Weekly podcast listeners hear an average of 9 hours of podcasts per week, with millennials leading all other groups with an average of just under 10 hours per week.
Source: The Infinite Dial Report

But it isn’t just that consumers are listening to more podcasts for longer periods of time, advertisers are seeing extraordinary ROI, according to a recent report by Acast.

Over 87 percent of podcast advertisers reported that they earned between $4 and $6 for every dollar spent on podcast ads.

Source: Acast, Podcast’s Return on Ad Spend, 2023

Those results could relate to how consumers are listening to podcast ads. A recent survey of 39k podcast listeners by DISQO revealed that 45 percent of daily listeners stated that they paid more attention to podcast ads than those they encountered on other media, per Inside Radio.

Source: DISQO

In addition, an earlier survey by Acast showed that 95 percent of podcast listeners are more likely to consider a product in a podcast that captures their interest, and 92 percent of listeners said the content of the podcast is important they consider a product. According to the report, 95 percent of American podcast listeners have taken an action as a result of podcast advertising and 97 percent of frequent listeners have researched a product or purchased a product because of a mention heard on a podcast.

How To Start: Develop A CX-Focused Podcast Strategy

Your targeted audience members are potential customers, yes—but they’re listening for the podcast content, not your ad. Think about how your ad might impact their customer experience as “buyers” of the podcast and potential consumers of your product or service.

Ask yourself:

Is our brand right for this audience? Audiences have strong feelings about the podcast content that they choose to consume – for subscribers and faithful weekly listeners, podcasts can be an important part of their social, cultural, or political identity. Be sure that your brand connects with your audience on an authentic level.

Does this network or podcast reflect our brand’s ethos? Consumers tend to respond more favorably to messaging from brands associated with podcasts or podcast hosts that they support. Your ad spend is best spent in an environment where audiences which will be receptive to your brand’s mission.

Is our messaging relevant? As a marketer, you’re used to translating big questions like “Why does it matter?” into compelling creative, but for podcasts, there’s a lot more at risk because of the potentially huge rewards. Leverage research to build an accurate portrait of what matters to the podcast’s audience in practical terms and craft your messaging to connect with those values, preferences, and needs explicitly while respecting the context of the message.

Even if you’ve never thought about podcast advertising, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Think about the consumer as an audience member first: Podcast listeners are often multi-tasking and engaged in an activity that they’d like to be distracted from, like doing chores. Your ads should amplify their enjoyment of the podcast by either leveraging a familiar voice from the podcast or using creative to make the transition to an ad less jarring. For example, popular podcasts like Welcome To Night Vale, Morbid, and No Such Thing As a Fish feature cast members telling personal anecdotes about sponsor products that feel more like a behind-the-scenes aside than a commercial break.
  • Deliver value that feels native within the context: Because consumers are actively listening but often engaged in another task, their willingness to tolerate interruptions may be higher, but they might also be more annoyed with ads that feel out of place with the tone and experience of the show and don‘t offer something valuable in return. For many podcasts, the easiest way to do this is to incentivize immediate action with a unique offer that not only delivers valuable metrics on engagement but also provides a reason for audience members to keep the volume up for the next ad in hopes of an intriguing deal. 
  • Think about long-term brand alliances: When your ad appears on a show or network with a deep fan base or an audience aligned with programming because of cultural or other affinities your brand can tap into that genuine desire to support the brand. A survey by National Public Media, for example, revealed that 61 percent of NPR podcast listeners preferred to buy from brands that sponsored their favorite NPR shows. When appropriate, connect your brand’s mission with the audience’s desire to support their favorite podcast in a tangible way.
  • Stay on top of the data: Per the latest research, look for opportunities with smaller podcasts, be flexible with ad frequency, and use podcast advertising at both ends of the funnel.

What Marketers Can Learn From Post Malone’s Earned Media Value Success

For marketers, decoding the true value of social media interactions and PR coverage can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll be using Social Index to calculate the monetary value of any tweet, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat or YouTube post. Social Index calculates values using a proprietary algorithm to attach a specific monetary value per view, impression, like, comment—or customized selection of any combination of interactions.

Tracking A $680k Post

Post Malone may be the most well-known celebrity Magic: The Gathering fan, and certainly one of the most valuable to the brand in terms of user engagement. In 2022, Malone announced a challenge in which any player who could beat him at the game would earn a $100k reward. The event was live-streamed, with one fan beating Post Malone and winning the reward before an enthusiastic global audience.

But before the tournament, Malone’s Magic: The Gathering’s social post announcing the event delivered over $650k in earned media value for the sponsoring brand. Malone leveraged his considerable social media fan base and drove coverage that drove sales and repeat engagement for the brand well after the event. 

That’s a strategy that any marketer or PR professional could adopt, but in order to identify the true value of any new social media or PR strategy, you have to start with measurement.

The ability to attach a specific value to a social activation makes it easier to adjust content or PR strategy to focus on channels that deliver the best ROI. It also helps marketers redirect their influencer budgets toward creators capable of delivering high-value content.

Measuring Social Media Accurately Allows Marketers To Direct Engagement Where Fandom Can Drive Revenue

Social media engagement—and the ability to measure it—can be critical for brand marketers whose brand, like Magic: The Gathering, has the potential to tap into a devoted fan base and promote DTC or other online direct sales.

Hasbro, which owns Magic: The Gathering, had a challenging Q1, with revenues declining by 14 percent year-over-year—a figure which made MTG’s earnings growth – 16 percent year-over-year—even more crucial for the company. MTG’s over $1 billion in sales, per The New York Times, surpassed those of pop culture icons like G.I. Joe and Transformers. While MTG cards can run to over $800k on the resale market, MTG’s revenue lift wasn’t dependent on collectors with deep pockets, but casual Magic: The Gathering players who can spend approximately $1000 for a popular 60-card deck.

Source: MTG Goldfish
Source: Hasbro

Here are four reasons why the right measurement tools are essential for marketers seeking to drive customer engagement with 

Per-action measurement allows brands to quickly assimilate new ROI data and shift strategy quickly

When Post Malone’s MTG post drove engagement around the upcoming tournament, social media or PR strategists could easily focus on engaging with those audiences, sharing Malone’s content across other channels, and providing links to product pages. 

Social Index allows users to compare social media values across multiple channels

Social Index calculates total per-action value for multiple platforms – allowing marketers to compare an Instagram strategy with a TikTok launch and a Facebook post, among other channels. That means each social activation can be compared with paid media effectiveness in a single report, making budget optimization a much simpler task.

Here are some examples:

  • A single Instagram post by Malone, which gained over 679k likes, generated earned media value of over $622k.
  • A Tweet with about 1200 shares produced almost 21k in earned media value.
  • An hour-long video featuring Malone playing with new cards from a recently released set garnered one million views and earned over $330k in earned media value.
  • Another YouTube video, with over 2.4 million views, earned over $792k in earned media value. 

Measuring social media value per interaction and view can help stretch ad budgets

As marketers face increasing ROI pressure, the ability to get more for less becomes a critical mission. A post that delivers as much or more value than paid media can provide an opportunity for brands to redirect spending toward influencers or creators who can drive direct sales or draw audiences to virtual events at a lower cost. Finding that perfect balance between high-value social engagement and paid media requires a tool that offers granular per-action insights.

Powerful single-post content can be repurposed and reshared—creating new ways to reignite audience engagement

There’s no reason that a post that saves the brand hundreds of thousands in ad spend has to be a one-off. Social Index allows marketers and PR strategists to identify their most valuable single posts across any time period and identify the components that delivered the highest overall level of engagement or a specific type of engagement sought.

 What Social Index Offers:

  • EMV Engine and algorithm refinement for improved accuracy​
  • Dashboard and EMV Visualizer​
  • Global EMV for key NA, EMEA, APAC countries​
  • Daily EMV updates​
  • EMV lookback window with 19+ months of historical values​
  • 1M+ values across 9 top industry verticals​
  • Values for 7 top social platforms – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube​

Learn more about how Social Index can help you optimize your social, PR, or media strategy.