Ad blocking will nurture greater creativity among marketers, CIM argues

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.


Will ad blocking be a boon or a burden for marketers? It’s a question which has fuelled many an industry event and roundtable over the past 12 months – and this publication has weighed in with its fair share too – but a new study from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) aims to give a more definitive answer.

The study, which was in partnership with YouGov and comprised interviewed with 255 marketers across England, Wales and Scotland, found that for more than three quarters (76%), ad blocking will encourage greater creativity among the profession. 38% of respondents however fear that it could lead to a decline in online marketing.

If this added pressure wasn’t enough, half (49%) of marketers surveyed said the disruptive nature of companies such as Amazon and Uber have ‘raised the bar’ on customer expectation, meaning they have to be similarly disruptive in their roles. One in five said customer experience was the primary focus for their organisation, with 28% saying they do not have the investment required to make sufficient change.

Chris Daly, chief executive of the CIM, said that arguably the biggest surprise of the research was finding that while businesses are talking the talk, they’re finding it more difficult to walk the walk. “One by one, industries are being disrupted by organisations that rip up the rule book, and that won’t stop this year,” he told MarketingTech. “Those who fail to become truly customer-centric and fully embrace the technology that is available risk sinking without a trace.”

Firmly entrenched in technology which is not likely to be available, of course, is ad blocking, an issue Daly describes as being ‘one of the biggest challenges facing digital marketers over the course of 2017’, adding that relying solely on banner ads is a “very outdated approach”.

“Creative thinking will have a critical part to play in overcoming the ad blocking barrier,” he said. “That’s why it’s so encouraging that our research showed 76% of marketers believe that ad blocking could actually be a good thing. The industry has a long and proud history of overcoming problems raised by change and using new technologies to its advantage. This mindset will ensure ad blocking – or any other technological change for that matter – does not have a devastating impact over the coming year.”

In terms of ongoing technological change, does this mean that anyone with aspirations to move into the CMO office needs to bulk up their tech skills? Daly says it’s a plus, but perhaps not at encyclopaedic level.

“While all marketers don’t need to have a deep understanding of the ins and outs around how technology works to progress to the CMO role and beyond, they must have a firm grasp on how it can be used to better understand and engage customers,” said Daly. “Collecting data, running analytics, using information to personalise experiences and powering new platforms are all issues CMOs should be confident in dealing with.

“Marketers understand customers,” added Daly. “The increasing strategic importance of putting marketing and IT together to better understand and serve customers make for a perfect storm that can propel CMOs up to the position of CEO.

“In an environment where the customer’s viewpoint is able to reach to the very heart of businesses, this career path is set to become increasingly commonplace over the next few years.”

The report also found that for one in three respondents, the lines between IT, digital and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred, while a quarter of 18-34 year olds say they want to enter marketing as it provides a greater career path to senior management.

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