A majority of chief marketing officers expect their budgets to increase over the coming year, but how that money is spent continues to evolve, according to Dentsu Aegis Network’s first CMO study released Tuesday.

The digital marketing firm conducted a global survey of 1,000 CMOs and senior-level marketers from across ten markets and across industry sectors. Across the board, Dentsu Aegis found that CMOs intend to work less with external marketing agencies over the next few years while investing larger budgets on data that will reach consumers on a personal level.

Respondents agreed that growing the business is their primary role and turn to digital channels as a solution. More than half of CMOs surveyed plan to increase investments in digital media platforms over the next two or three years, the study found. The ability to use data to reach real people, rather than proxies or customer segments was listed as the number one strategic opportunity for marketing professionals.

Data is a double-edged sword for marketers, however, who named a data breach or misuse of consumer data as the number one strategic risk. Consumers expect more from advertising while trying to avoid them altogether, forcing marketers to walk a line between data privacy and personalization. In fact, almost half of all CMOs say that consumers’ intolerance for advertising will be one of the key barriers they expect to face when building relationships with consumers in the next two to three years. In the face of increased data regulation, CMOs won’t have it easy. Sixty percent of CMOs believed that data protection regulation such as GDPR would make it harder to build a direct relationship with the consumer, especially among respondents working in the financial sector.

Building a healthy relationship with ad tech companies is seen as an opportunity, as well as a central element of CMO strategy in the future, Dentsu Aegis found. Unsurprisingly, respondents said that integrating brand engagement and commerce/conversion will be an important part of marketing strategy in the next few years.

Achieving success will take teamwork, but not all CMOs agreed on which teams would be a sound investment. A third of CMOs say they intend to work less with external marketing agencies over the next two to three years, while nearly half plan to increase the number of marketing specialists they retain.

“The speed of growth and the variety of new channels through which brands can engage consumers is astonishing,” wrote Nigel Morris, chief strategy and innovation officer for Dentsu Aegis in the report. “Many brands are guilty of letting the tail wag the dog—of allowing a short-term preoccupation with digital detract from long-term brand-building. As with any innovation, these tools need to be considered in the context of a brand’s long-term strategy and as part of an integrated marketing mix that address all phases of the consumer lifecycle.”