Digital Marketing Essentials: CDOs, Data Protection, And Changes From Big Platforms

Dr Dave Chaffey reviews the strategic, management and platform issues from January 2016 that are most likely to be significant for European CMOs.

Digital Marketing Essentials: CDOs, Data Protection, And Changes From Big Platforms

If you’re responsible for managing marketing in a business, you’ll be acutely aware of the threat of digital disruption as new entrants to a sector exploit new technologies and develop new business models.

Yet surely the reality is that, in many sectors, the main threat is from existing competitors who have made the best calls when developing an online strategy and then selecting and implementing the latest digital technologies to improve their customer experiences and marketing communications.

Each month, week, even day there are announcements of innovations from the mega tech platforms of Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Marketers face a challenge in knowing which of these to respond to as a significant opportunity or threat to their business, since most announcements are hype-laden and seized on by commentators fuelled by social media. Although the new functionality is often interesting, the truth is that the majority of changes won’t make a dramatic difference to growing a business. As a CMO or senior marketer, you can rely on your team or agency specialists to dig into the latest change affecting Google AdWords or Facebook.

Yet some changes certainly are significant and need to be acted upon to see how and where they can be applied. To take one example, think of “Mobilegeddon” back in April 2015 when businesses which hadn’t responded by creating a mobile-friendly site were damaged by losing visibility for smartphone searchers.

So what were the biggest changes CMOs need to know about in January 2016? In my regular column for, I’m going to summarise the biggest changes relevant to senior marketers as I see them, based on all of the changes I review to keep my training, consulting, books and our Smart Insights member resources up-to-date. As well as platform changes I will also look at useful data points to inform digital strategists, including new research and techniques for managing digital marketing.

Strategy: Does Your Organisation Need A CDO?

The need to successfully implement digital transformation has led to the creation of the role of chief digital officer (CDO). A new report from PwC charts the rise of this position, and suggests its importance will continue to grow over the coming years. Indeed the report concludes that “Companies without a dedicated leader of digital transformation may lose competitive advantage”. The need for CDOs will naturally vary depending on the level of digitisation shown. Ultimately, successful CDOs will need to find new roles once the transformation programme finishes and digital becomes part of business-as-usual.

Management: Is Your Business Ready For GDPR?

When I’m training or delivering workshops, I often find that marketers haven’t heard of GDPR; the new European General Data Protection Regulation. This isn’t a surprise, since last year coverage about it was mainly about future changes discussed at the Data protection Trilogue negotiations which took place between the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Ministers.

These talks concluded at the end of 2015 and this year all marketers involved in marketing to European consumers will need to comply with the EGDR. Watch for the Data Protection Offices in each country, like the UK ICO, issuing their own implementation guidance. In the meantime, marketers should plan time in 2016 to review their communications around profiling new subscribers and opt-out to email, cookies and other forms of profiling. See this summary of the implications of the GDPR by James Milligan, the DMA solicitor for more details of what to expect.

Platform Developments

Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn all made changes to their targeting and retargeting options last year and there were accompanying declines in organic visibility. Businesses and agencies that are agile enough to review, test and implement these types of targeting changes can gain a competitive edge if they are relevant to their market.

Across Christmas and into January is usually a quiet time for releases from the main platforms, but this wasn’t the case at the start of 2016.

For me, there are three big tech platform changes from January 2016 that marketers need to discuss with their specialists:

  1. Google - a change to the core algorithm affecting SEO. These changes have been notified by Google’s SEO specialists. The implication for businesses is that they need to check for changes in the contribution for website traffic from organic sources.
  2. Facebook Lead Ads. This has potential for high-consideration, high-value products such as automotive or travel. Since Lead Ads are now available on desktop this gives new options for lead generation. For example, Facebook reported that when Mazda switched to Facebook Leads Ads, it got five times the number of leads compared to ads linking to its website, while cost per lead dropped 85%.

  1. Twitter’s new conversational ad format. This is also sector specific; it’s of most interest to brands looking to gain engagement through campaigns and is currently still on beta with large advertisers. This new ad format includes call to action buttons with customisable hashtags that encourage consumer engagement.

With all of these types of platform changes we’ll cover in the year ahead it’s a case of having the right processes and budgets in place to apply the 70:20:10 rule of media investment. Mark Renshaw of agency Leo Burnett/ Arc Worldwide, writing in Ad Age, suggests dividing media spend into 70%, 20% and 10% “buckets”. The 70% bucket is all about “refining your record of success” with tried and tested media which deliver volume and positive ROI. He recommends applying the next 20% to media that have just gone mainstream or are on the verge of doing so, while the 10% are the opportunities such as these that pop up frequently and quickly attract media attention.