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In-house digital roles to diminish as marcomms steps up on integration, says study

Digital is moving from being a separate function to an integrated one in marcomms teams, according to a new research by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and consultants OxfordSM. Of the 21 companies surveyed, 10 said they relied on a separate team for digital marcomms, while seven reported that digital expertise was already woven into all teams. Additionally, 10 respondents said they were working to have the latter in place.

While digital is often setup as a dedicated unit, organisations are fast recognising that when this happens, smooth marcomms integration is harder to achieve. Therefore, they are moving rapidly to integrate digital expertise into all its teams, said the report. WFA CEO Stephan Loerke said:

Digital roles within many organisations should have been made redundant by now.

“While they will remain a necessity for some, the goal for the majority should be moving to integration of these skills. The ongoing transformation of organisations and required skills-sets is, for good reason, a huge priority area for our industry’s marketing leaders,” added Loerke.

Gaps to address

Delivering integrated campaigns is much harder with digital as a standalone function, said the report. While companies identified integration as the most important factor (55%) organisations need to get right to deliver effective communication, research showed that they do not rate their ability in this area highly. Respondents rated 4.5 out of five in terms of priority for fully integrated campaigns across all channels, but only 3.3 in actual capability.

Overall, the biggest gaps are in the newer capabilities to do with personalisation, and real time programming and decision-making. Companies saw about 50% deficit when comparing current and desired performance levels. The only area where priority and actual capability were the same was global campaign implementation.

Changing team structures

Ways of working are also rated as important drivers of integration. To break down silos and be more customer-centric, more than one in four (42%) now regularly work in cross functional teams and 30% said they regularly work in self-organising agile teams to speed up delivery of projects. About 50% said they sometimes had agency staff embedded in their teams.

According to the report, cross-functional teams minimise hand-offs, and are equipped with all necessary skills. Meanwhile, agile, self-organising teams put decision-making with those closest to the challenge, and increase speed of action.

Over 40% of organisations indicated that they are using smart ways of working to drive integration regularly, while 20% said they do not use any of them regularly (though most are now experimenting with some of them).

The agency model is also being de-prioritised as an enabler to effective communications, with most respondents rating them below other internal considerations. This comes as more than 70% of respondents have plans for more in-sourcing marcomms activities in the future.

The top three areas where in-sourcing is expected to increase is content development, analytics and eCommerce. Outsourcing, on the other hand, is expected to increase for creative, traditional media buying and PR.

The “Designing for integration” study was conducted in the first quarter of 2019. It was based on responses from 21 multinational companies across 10 different sectors, with a total global ad spend of US$32 billion. About 67% per cent of respondents are in global roles, with the remainder responsible for various regions.

(Photo courtesy: 123rf)

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