CMO Survey: Marketers Predict More Online Data Use, Less From Third Parties

Professor Christine Moorman studies marketing trends

August 28, 2018
Marketing, Operations
Latest CMO Survey focuses on marketing analytics

Marketing leaders are obtaining less customer data from third parties, but are using more online data about customer behavior and expect that trend to continue, a new survey finds.

Marketers also expect their investments in mobile marketing to double in the next three years.

These are among the latest findings from The CMO Survey. Conducted biannually since August 2008, and sponsored by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, it is the longest-running survey dedicated to understanding the field of marketing. The latest edition, conducted from July 17 to Aug. 7, received responses from 324 top marketing executives.

Sixty-two percent of marketing leaders said use of online customer data at their firms increased in the last two years, and 70 percent said they expect to use more online data in the next two years. But most firms say their use of customer data from third-party aggregators will continue to fall.

“Companies are making changes to the way in which they use customer data,” said Christine Moorman, a Fuqua professor and director of The CMO Survey. “Privacy concerns do not, however, loom as large as they should, with only 10 percent of firms very worried about their use of online or third-party customer data. While toeing the line on privacy concerns, marketers should probably focus on gaining a competitive advantage with data collected from customers online before any regulations may be introduced.”

The use of online data is consistent with the expectation that spending on digital marketing will increase by 12.3 percent over the next year, while spending on traditional advertising is expected to fall by 1.2 percent. Marketing budgets are expected to be 54 percent digital in the next five years. 

The survey also found mobile marketing accounted for 9.4 percent of marketing budgets, with that share expected to double in the next three years. The proportion currently spent on mobile has more than doubled since February 2017.

At the same time, the contributions of mobile marketing to company performance show little improvement over time.

“Companies still have a great deal to learn about effectively executing digital strategies,” Moorman said. “Ratings of digital marketing capabilities are only at moderate levels, and will need to climb for firms to experience the full benefit of their spending on mobile.”

Business-to-consumer companies have marketing’s strongest digital capabilities.  

Companies reported spending 6.7 percent of their marketing budgets on analytics. That proportion is expected to triple over the next three years, though previous growth predictions haven’t yet materialized.

“A lack of trained professionals, as well as the necessary measurement tools and processes, are the biggest obstacles to using marketing analytics within companies,” Moorman said.

Spending on social media climbed more sharply over the past year than in any 12-month period since the survey began. Firms spent 13.8 percent of their marketing budgets on social media, 4 percentage points more than in August 2017. That’s expected to increase to 16.3 percent over the next year, and to 22.9 percent -- almost a quarter of marketing budgets -- in five years.

Firms say their ability to prove the impact of social media has also improved, though integration of social media with overall media strategies remains flat.

Other findings include:

  • Firms plan to hire 6.4 percent more marketers in the next year, down slightly over projections made in February. Marketing leaders report having the right talent is the most important driver of growth within firms, and that creativity is the most important skill that will be prioritized in the hiring process.
  • Marketing budgets grew by 7.5 percent in the last year and are expected to increase by the same proportion in the next 12 months. Marketing budgets represent 10.8 percent of firms’ overall budgets.

For more analysis of the results, including business-to-business and business-to-consumer breakdowns, visit

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