Marketers are aiming to improve their effectiveness cultures by over a third by 2020, boosting their current average rating from 6 out of 10 to almost 8 out of 10. This is one of the key findings from a comprehensive IPA study, carried out in association with ISBA and shared at the IPA Eff Works conference (9 October).

The research combines the insights of over 60 brand companies from all sectors, 60 agencies, 100 marketers and finance professionals and 120 agency management, to assess all aspects of ‘Marketing Effectiveness Culture’. Bringing together both quantitative data (responses to 80+ questions) and wide-ranging perspectives (400+ comments), the study explores what companies are doing to assess the impact of their marketing activity and how they are doing it.

According to the study, over half of marketers rate their current marketing effectiveness culture at just 6 out of 10 or below (with 10 as excellent). However, by 2020, 61% are expecting to see a 2-point or higher increase, with 75% expecting to be at 8 or above, and a third at 9 or 10.

To improve their marketing effectiveness cultures and increase the recognition of the value of marketing expenditure, the report highlights three key recommendations:

1. Integrate longer-term measures into the short-term demands

The focus, for the majority, is primarily on marketing’s short-term impact. There are ongoing efforts to integrate and balance long-term strategic aims, within the context of campaign and channel specific results, but the business pressures place an emphasis on the immediate term.

  • Currently, no finance professionals strongly agree that they have signed-off marketing plans and objectives in place for the long-term (1-3 years). This stands at 14% for marketers and for agencies’ experience of the majority of their clients, this stands at 4%.
  • Further to this, 73% of marketers surveyed agree that their short-term tactical needs often take priority over longer term (12 month+ objectives. This aligns with agencies’ experience, who put their score at 75% on this statement.

2. Formalise, align and agree metrics upfront, across the business

The various stakeholders, internal and external, rarely establish the measures of marketing’s success together, at the outset.

  • Only half of marketers (50%) agree they have appropriate marketing metrics and measures, which are aligned across all their relevant business areas (markets, brands, business areas).
  • Furthermore, despite 57% of marketers thinking they make the relevant data accessible to the right people at the right time to facilitate informed planning and decision-making, this perspective is not shared by their finance and agency colleagues. There is a clear gap in agency access for two out of the top three sources for clients measuring effectiveness: sales data and customer tracking data. 89% of clients use Sales data, but only 63% of agencies have access to this, and 72% of clients use Customer data tracking, but only 46% of agencies have access to this.

3. Recognise that Marketing Effectiveness is increasingly a shared responsibility requiring collaborative working and integrated resources

Marketing Effectiveness is a business priority and no longer the remit of marketing alone; a quarter state it is the responsibility of Insights and Analytics, and 22% feel ‘it is no one business area but a shared responsibility’. However, the survey suggests that the many resourcing, operational and cultural shifts needed to support this changing dynamic are not consistently in place.

  • Only 40% of marketers agree their company is prioritising having the right mix of resources to support Marketing Effectiveness.
  • The many comments in response to the question – ‘What are the accelerators and barriers to creating an Effectiveness Culture?’ cite the need for board level senior management commitment, company-wide eradication of silos and politics, credible metrics accepted by all and the establishment of a test and learn mentality.

Says Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy, IPA: “This comprehensive study provides a definitive benchmark on the current state of play in client businesses, and provides some invaluable pointers on how marketing clients and agencies can work together to develop marketing effectiveness processes and behaviours.”

Says Clare O’Brien, Head of Media Effectiveness and Performance, ISBA: “The findings reveal valuable data for our members and the industry widely. In particular, for ISBA’s Insight & Effectiveness Steering Group, representing the UK’s biggest marketing budgets, it addresses the question of how we develop stronger integral understanding of marketing-generated data throughout the business operation. The numbers uncovered provide the evidence to develop shared responsibility across business teams for the collection and deployment of marketing data to better optimise all aspects of the business.”

Says Libby Child, Founding Partner of Greengrass Consulting, who carried out the study “The depth, detail and variety of responses highlight the complexity of the challenges facing marketers and their agencies as they strive to develop effective solutions, together, for the short and long term. There is certainly a will, but the way is not so easy. ”


These top-line findings were presented by Libby Child, Founding Partner of Greengrass Consulting, at the cross-industry Eff Works conference today (9 October). You can download her slides here. This will be followed by a deep-dive session into further findings on 31st October.

Notes to editors:

Putting theory into practice lies at the heart of the IPA’s wider effectiveness initiative and annual Effectiveness Week (EffWeek), which is unique in bringing together CMOs, insight and analytics directors and agency management to deliver thought leadership and R&D programmes to help the industry navigate complexity and manage integration and change. The IPA’s aim is to improve the quality of interactions between clients and agencies through promoting a can-do attitude, and a shared ambition to develop evidence-based decision-making and a marketing effectiveness culture in day-to-day business operations.

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Written 09th October 2018
By Abi Slater