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Andrea Bernhardt Q&A: The Challenges for CMOs in 2020

Andrea Bernhardt joined MediaSense in November as Strategy Director to support our growing media transformation practice. Previously at Reckitt Benckiser, Andrea led Global Media and Digital – developing media capabilities and a new integrated media strategy in the areas of media effectiveness, data driven marketing and communications. MediaView spent some time with Andrea to discuss the future of media transformation, global operating models and the challenges for CMOs in 2020.

MV: What are the most common problems or rather, challenges, Global CMOs are facing in 2020?

AB: There’s a tremendous amount of proliferation that’s happening within global media and content across all channels; paid, owned, and earned; and this creates difficulties in reaching and connecting with consumers on their terms. The biggest challenge that CMOs face is being able to identify, connect, and have a meaningful relationship with the core consumer. There’s also the on-going activity of driving the right content at the right time and on the right platform. Becoming data-driven is key; understanding consumer data and being able to strategically leverage it.

Data-Driven, Consumer-First business strategies require CMOs to have the right infrastructure and capabilities in place to drive this level of transformation. In the past, I have seen brands make changes and then backtrack or realise that there are further changes ahead. Defining a Marketing and Media Vision and matching this to the requirements across the whole of the business should be a number one priority.

MV: What are the common pain-points with evolving global operating models?

AB: The issue of media transformation is a much larger topic than just remodelling media operations – Yes, an operating model is the driver and the infrastructure behind a transformation, but it is also driven by change management and internal capabilities. These plays a key role in being able to steer the model. Change is also driven by the consumer to a big extent – being able to connect with that consumer is how that transformation becomes successful.

MV: How are today’s generation of marketeers/media managers coping with the multiple demands they face?

AB: Knowledge and capability are crucial as marketing teams require a different set of skills nowadays. From a management perspective there are questions to ask 1.) can these new skills be taught in-house? 2.) how do you figure out what can be learned versus bringing in external talent?

If we look at ‘digital’ as an example, TV was the biggest player in the world of marketing. It was easy to drive efficiency as the core objective. We know digital doesn’t work like that; the discussion is all about effectiveness rather than efficiency. Digital also has different requirements, it requires technology, it requires data, it requires an infrastructure, and it requires a know-how, and those requirements have potential cost implications. Nobody wants costs driven up, but should you really choose cost savings over being able to connect with that consumer? That’s a real time marketing question that a business must discuss.

We can also look to internal and external issues. The internal issue that people are facing is reluctance to change. Change is not comfortable and when organisational change happens at a large scale in a corporation, it has the potential to create chaos. It is very important to understand the journey.  Change will not happen overnight, and marketers can minimize the chaos by setting core priorities and understanding what areas of change are foundational and which areas are more future focused.  This helps determine a starting point and where resources should be leveraged.

From an external perspective, you can look at a proportion of consumers and become slightly terrified of them. How do you drive earned media and relevance amongst a generation that are going to grow up and become a brand’s biggest consumer asset, when in their minds they’re not sitting down and consuming normal advertising driven channels? Gen Z are quickly slipping out of the loop of paid media. There’s also the new wave of ‘cord cutters’ – how do you connect with consumers in a world where advertising is not the main revenue model where content is delivered? And again, that comes back to the power of earned media, which I don’t think many marketers are thinking about or understanding how to assess.

MV: Where do you see the global media transparency/regulation debate heading in 2020?

AB: Transparency is not going to go away especially at a cost level as clients continue to ask the right questions regarding trading desks, potential hidden costs and measurement. It’s a little early to tell but with Google phasing out third-party cookies I can see this scaring a lot of marketers because of the importance of data and cookie-tracking. 1st-party Data and now the idea of ‘Zero-party’ data becomes such an important part of what marketers need to consider.

I believe data is a marketer’s biggest asset. It is the gateway to knowledge, and it is the gateway to connection. If you are a CMO and your agency still owns your data, you are unfortunately way behind. CMOs need a firm grip on where their data lives, and how can they either own or fully access it without restriction. To “own” data, marketers need their own technology relationships and contracts in place. If that is not accessible to you as a marketer, you need to be at the forefront of the conversation with the agency. You need to contract a specific way to make sure that you have visibility and access and ownership of all the data that lies within the tech stack. This drives more capability questions as you must have the people in place to be able to either operate technology or to ask the right questions of your agencies.


MV: In the wake of digital transformation, how can CMOs become “future fit”?

AB: There are two things happening right now in the marketing world. There’s brand building and there’s the e-comm space. If you have two different people running those ships, and if they run them completely different, you have the potential to confuse your consumer, with an inconsistent brand message and also cannibalise your media efforts if they are being bought by different entities.

CMOs and marketers are going to have to understand how to bring the brand building and the performance marketing side together. They also need to measure and drive the performance side to get the business results that they need. Especially in the digital space.

MV: How do you see the role of the CMO changing or evolving given the topics we’ve already discussed? 

A CMO needs to understand not just their business but also how their brand is connecting with the consumer and all the intricacies that now go into that connection. Again, this goes back to the technology, data, analytics and the role channels play in a consumer’s life.

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