As technology evolves so do marketing channels. Traditional marketing covers display ads, billboards, TV, and radio. Digital marketing sees content reach consumers through a digital screen. Social media and mobile marketing, which are more sub-channels of Digital, merit their own categories given their growth rates.
In previous years, all of these marketing channels would have reported in to a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), who’d be responsible for guiding the overall marketing strategy. Today, we’re seeing a new corporate officer in the C-suite landscape: the Chief Native Officer (CNO), responsible for native advertising.
Daniel Newman talked about this in an article for Forbes, stating that CNOs could play a larger role in companies, helping digital marketing agencies work more effectively with digital publishers. “There’s a pressing need for a ‘dedicated task force’ to exploit native ads to their fullest potential,” he wrote. But is that really true?
Corporate officers have their own specialities now
Many of the industry-specific corporate officers evolved out of a need to steer teams in a specific area unique to their market. Think of Chief Risk Officers at a financial firm or Chief Technology Officers at a technology company.
Marketing teams were no different. They created the Chief Content Officer to guide their ‘storytelling’, thought leadership, and brand awareness efforts with content marketing. But again, this is a more of a generalized marketing role, and one that could replace the CMO in the C-suite. Content marketing encompasses a lot of different marketing channels, including native advertising, so a CCO seemed like a logical evolution of the CMO.
The reason that CNO’s are starting to pop up: money. Native ad spending will reach US$7.8 billion this year and grow to US$21 billion by 2018.
CEOs and other C-suite executives may think that a dedicated officer is needed to handle that a budget that large. But surely CMOs are used to handling budgets that large, so why not just keep it under their umbrella?
Mike Weir, Vertical Director – Technology at LinkedIn thinks it should remain with the CMO. “A strong CMO (partnered with a) Marketing Leadership team will evaluate Native’s role in their marketing strategy. The CMO should know the important of aligning organizational silos and agency partners to build a holistic strategy that revolves around the client first then the strategy of what content and what platforms to engage will follow,” he said.
CNO’s just dilute the C-suite
Native advertising can be a powerful and important marketing channel for all companies to leverage, but many marketers see CNOs as a way of diluting the power of the C-suite. Jeff Epstein, a product and marketing manager in Vancouver thinks the new role could be harmful to marketing teams as a whole.
“There is clearly a need for dedicated attention to content distribution and strategy; this hardly mandates a C-suite level role. Ultimately it’s the job of the CMO to tie all marketing together,” Epstein stated. Clearly-defined marketing roles that may encompass native advertising responsibility is important, he further explains, however splitting the overall marketing team’s management into such powerful, individual roles is harmful and confusing.
Other corporate officers have responsibilities and activities that are just as specific as the CNO in their portfolios, yet theirs aren’t divided up the same way.
Adding a Chief Native Officer simply confuses the leadership roles for marketing, potentially leading to marketing channel silos and fractured marketing efforts.
Marketing channels should work together holistically, working together to drive forward the overall marketing vision for the company. More specifically for marketers, it’s about who’s responsible for the overall marketing results. The marketing leadership team should guide, and be responsible for, the individual channels a company uses. Ultimately it’s the CMO that reports those results to the C-suite.
Dividing C-suite responsibilities leads to further executive leadership issues, as each member sees their authority being reduced, creating further organizational silos. Teams would no longer speak to each other at any level, leading to a negative work culture that affects every area of the company, including the bottom line.
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