Which Digital Capabilities Are Advertisers the Most – and Least – Confident About?

March 31, 2017

Some sobering results from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Google Digital Academy: on a 100-point scale, marketers working at advertisers around the world score their organizations’ digital capabilities at an average score of just 57. Worse yet, that number hasn’t budged since the last time the survey was fielded 18 months earlier. So where are advertising organizations having the most trouble?

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers surveyed 2,200 marketers at 141 advertisers in 41 countries around the globe. Respondents were asked to rate their teams’ capabilities and performance in various skills and channels on a 6-point index, which was then converted to a 100-point index, where 100 equals best practice.

The study results show that mobile advertising is the biggest pain point, with an average digital capability score of just 45. The user experience appears to be one of the big challenges for mobile advertising, according to other research, with smartphone owners complaining of ad clutter and interruptive ads.

Of the 7 specific channels identified in BCG’s study, mobile web and apps (51.1) followed mobile advertising as the next-most troublesome skill, suggesting that marketers simply haven’t cracked the mobile code yet. This is corroborated by a recent study from RadiumOne and the MMA [download page] in which marketers felt that mobile was still an untapped opportunity.

Meanwhile, comparatively speaking, respondents to the BCG survey seem more confident in their abilities to master social media (66.6) and search (65.5), while video (52.1) also presents challenges.

Interestingly enough, when looking at measurement capabilities, advertisers did not seem too phased (at least relative to other skills) by marketing analytics, with an average score of almost 60. That’s an intriguing result given that few CMOs say their organizations are leveraging marketing analytics.

However, advertisers did give themselves low scores in testing (49.8), indicating there’s much work to be done there. Digital targeting (53.3) is also a troublesome area – suggesting that some of the features that are considered the biggest benefits of digital (targeting and measurement) are also those needing the most improvement in organizational capability.

There is one silver lining, though, if it could be called that: in a corresponding survey of 2,900 employees at 126 advertising agencies in 28 countries, respondents seemed more confident in their abilities. Their overall score of almost 68, for example, while not world-beating, was more than 10 points higher than their advertiser counterparts. In fact, agencies scored themselves higher than advertisers in each of the 15 capabilities measured.

The biggest gaps between agencies and advertisers? Mobile advertising (62.4 for agencies vs. 45 for advertisers); display media (68.7 and 55.9, respectively); and digital targeting (67.2 and 53.3, respectively).

For more on digital skills, see the following articles:

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