SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

November 30, 2010 00:01 ET

Despite Growth in Social, Mobile, and Online Media, Companies Struggle to Build Digital Marketing Capabilities, Says Report by The Boston Consulting Group

While 55 Percent of Marketing Executives Say Digital Is Important to Their Personal Success, They Often Have Trouble Integrating New Vehicles Into Their Marketing Mix and Managing the Increased Complexity

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - November 30, 2010) - As digital media transform the marketing landscape, many senior marketing executives admit they are struggling to adapt their management approaches and organization. And while there is no single winning model, some best practices for digital marketing are emerging, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled The CMO's Imperative: Tackling New Digital Realities, is being released today.

The findings stem from BCG's survey of 56 marketing executives at mostly large and midsize companies with world-renown brands. (Half the companies had sales over $10 billion, and most were U.S.-based multinationals). They also draw on interviews with 45 corporate marketers, media company executives, advertising executives, and other industry experts, as well as on BCG client experience. The report explores how companies are reshaping their marketing spending and internal capabilities, and highlights implications for executives considering approaches to digital marketing.

"Today's disruptions echo the 1960s of Mad Men, when television was an emerging platform just as digital media are today," says John Rose, a senior partner in BCG's New York office and an author of the report. "Once again, we see some companies taking bold steps to invest, even amid massive uncertainty. The 'new gurus' will be the ones who figure out how to adapt their marketing management to these new realities, and their success will shift market share and create powerful brand positions just as in the heyday of Madison Avenue."

Mirroring the digital marketing buzz, about 90 percent of respondents said their companies plan to spend more on social-media, mobile, and online advertising in the next three years. However, many of these companies are taking a leap of faith, investing despite gaps in in-house talent, measurement tools, and agency supports. 

For example, only 31 percent of survey respondents agreed that their advertising agencies are helpful in making the right tradeoffs between digital and traditional media. Most respondents said they do not believe that they have developed the right tools for managing their increasingly complex media mix.

Some Emerging Best Practices

Although no one has yet developed the winning formula, executives who are most committed to digital marketing demonstrate some best practices.

  • Their companies are more likely to establish minimum levels for investment in digital marketing (39 percent vs. 19 percent for other companies).
  • They are more likely to possess the tools required to make tradeoffs across media vehicles (52 percent vs. 29 percent for others).
  • More of these executives believe that digital marketing is important to their personal success (61 percent vs. 48 percent for other companies).
  • They are working aggressively to integrate campaigns across digital and traditional agencies by experimenting with new internal-organization approaches and new agency-incentive models that promote collaboration.

Despite continued uncertainty, most marketers no longer need a call to action on digital marketing. "Companies know that by failing to effectively integrate digital campaigns, they risk wasting marketing dollars by the millions," says Jens Harsaae, a partner in BCG's Copenhagen office and an author of the report. "By fumbling conversations with digital consumers, they risk damaging a brand's reputation. Inaction is not the safe option."

To receive a copy of the report or arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 71 offices in 41 countries. For more information, please visit