Mark Holden: “There is going to be a renaissance in creativity in our industry”

After revealing that marketers spend most of their time reporting, Mark Holden, PHD’s Worldwide CSO, tells Resume magazine why it's time to rethink marketing and where creativity fits in. 

In a recent study conducted for its latest book, Shift | A Marketing Rethink, PHD revealed that reporting is fast becoming the main function of brand marketers.  

Per the results of the study, in which PHD and WARC interviewed 1,721 brand marketers around the world, there has been a 57% increase in the number of marketing organizations investing in reporting capabilities – up to 88%, compared to 51% ten years ago.

Marketers also said they spend more time on planning (with 83% of organizations investing in this capability) – up 69% over the last 10 years.

Additionally, time spend planning has increased 69% globally since 2011, while executing is now the fifth most regularly carried out task (81%).

But while marketing has evolved, how might things continue to change in the future?

In this interview, republished from Resume magazine, Mark Holden, PHD’s CSO, digs deeper into the research, examines the trends, and explains why it’s time for a creative renaissance.


Resume: How has automation and artificial intelligence played into the development you saw in these interviews? Will it give marketers more or less time to spend creatively? 

Mark Holden: What this has shown is that automation and artificial intelligence has not matured yet. Mostly it is restricted to narrow areas – such as search optimization and audience modeling.

However, we are expecting this to be more significant over the next five to 10 years. And this is going to reduce time spent on reporting and activating functions, allowing people to elevate above, and leading to increases in advanced analytics, strategy, and planning, and, of course, creativity.

R: Is it likely that the future that marketers see (that ideation will dominate the marketer's role again) is correct, or will creativity be less relevant to marketing?

MH: Our research suggests that origination will become the most dominant function again. Interestingly, one of the capabilities that is going to become much more significant in the future is utilizing/training on marketing science.

The result of marketing science-based studies typically clarifies the role of creativity in achieving a disproportionate return. The data seems to suggest that there is going to be some form of a renaissance in creativity in our industry. 

R: What will take up the majority of marketers' time in the future?  

MH: It will be spread across several different functions. However, advanced analytics is going to be much more significant. As an industry, we need to really think about how we are building pathways for this type of talent now. 

R: How can companies prepare for the future using the data from these interviews? What will be essential to stay relevant? 

MH: We conducted this research as part of our new book, Shift, which examines how marketing has changed over the last decade – and where it is heading next. Within the book, we show the 35 different functions carried out by marketing and highlight the ones that will become more important in the future.

We also consider how they are going to evolve. To do this we approached the Singularity University – a global leader in exponential thinking – to identify the macro forces of change that seem to impact our industry. We used these to refine the functions and to create the marketing roles of tomorrow. There are 15 of them in total. 

R: When interviewing different marketers, was there any difference in replies based on their employment/place of work? (freelancers, inhouse, agency, etc) 

MH: There were, of course, many differences, but also a lot of consistency. The fact is that the industry has become increasingly complex. And this has resulted in, for want of a better expression, a marketing midlife crisis. This is a topic we also explore in Shift. There are five different types of marketing midlife crises that your organization may be in.  

The interview portion of this article was first published by Resume (in Swedish).

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