So What Do Marketers Think Is the Ideal Channel Mix?

August 22, 2016

MillwardBrown-Senior-Execs-Ideal-Marketing-Mix-Aug2016The struggle to optimize the marketing mix across channels has recently been called the biggest challenge facing marketers. Now, a newly-released study [download page] from Millward Brown Digital (MBD) indeed finds that this continues to be a monumental struggle, with marketers demonstrating a decided lack of confidence in their media allocations.

Just 32% of the marketers surveyed by MBD reported having confidence that their organization has achieved the optimal media mix between traditional and digital. While that’s a step up from the 26% who felt that way last year, it’s outweighed by the 50% who don’t feel confident in their organization’s media mix, itself a sizable jump from last year (43%). In other words, marketers are more opinionated this year, but they’re not getting any more confident on a net basis.

So what does the marketers’ ideal mix look like? The study averaged out respondents’ choices to show a best-in-class allocation of time and efforts on various channels. Bearing in mind that the optimal mix almost certainly differs by company type and target audience, among others, the results provide at the least some interesting insights into marketers’ priorities.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the direction of budgets in recent years, traditional advertising reigns as the single top channel, with 16% share of the ideal mix. By comparison, online advertising captures 11% of the ideal mix, a little further back. The discrepancy does make some sense given research indicating that traditional advertising influences more adults’ purchases than online ads.

Beyond traditional advertising, websites (13%) and search (13%) occupy the next-largest shares of the mythical ideal marketing mix, with social (owned and earned) close behind, with 12% share of marketers’ time and efforts. So while traditional advertising has the single largest share of the optimal mix, it seems that digital efforts in combination are a larger priority.

On par with online advertising is content, also occupying 11% share of the mix. These are ahead of of mobile ads and applications (8%), with email (7%), direct mail (5%) and events/conferences (4%) rounding out the identified channels. Email and direct mail, closely aligned in the marketing mix, also see similar rates of purchase influence among US adults, according to MarketingCharts’ research.

The results are a far cry from prior research into B2B marketers’ budget allocations, which has found tradeshows and events to hog the largest share of budgets.

It seems rather clear from the MBD research that media mix priorities don’t seem to be related to the ability to prove ROI. Separately, marketers said they were best able to track ROI for email, which gets relatively little attention in the media mix. Content marketing, by contrast, which marketers feel they have low ability to track, is a much larger priority in the ideal mix. It’s worth noting that these results are fairly in line with perceptions in Europe, with both studies finding email and search among the easiest to track for ROI and content marketing and social media among the more difficult channels.

In fact, marketers, agencies and media companies alike agree that proving ROI is the top challenge facing marketers today. As a result, the research tool most expected to increase in use is sales linkage/ROI studies. Behavior insights and advertising effectiveness tools follow as tools that marketers will embrace, with these also linked to the question of ROI and the optimal mix.

Overall, with a majority (55%) of respondents saying that they’re not confident that their organization understands the consumer journey, many will be increasing their research budgets. The most enthusiastic are media companies, 64% of which expect their research budget to increase in the next 3 years. A majority (57%) of agency respondents concur, as do almost half (46%) of brand respondents.

About the Data: Millward Brown Digital’s “Getting Digital Right” study is based on a survey of more than 300 senior executives from advertisers, agencies and media companies.

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