Adobe study shows APAC marketers still struggle with budget limitations, lack of talent and campaign-specific metrics

Metrics and analytics are often posited as a major advantage of digital marketing. And while it may be true that big data measurement tools make it easier to track to track campaigns online, the onus still rests on marketers to determine what should be measured. And research released by Adobe with the CMO Council has found that marketers in the APAC reason continue to focus on short-term metrics, such as single campaign performance, rather than longer-term metrics, such as pipeline measurement  or customer lifetime value.

The APAC Digital Directions study found that 62 percent of respondents measured click-through rates and campaign ROI, and 65 percent said they measured response rates, compared to just 17 percent measuring revenue per customer, 13 percent measuring customer lifetime value and 14 percent measuring market share movements.

Since 2011, Adobe has been tracking the APAC region through an annual report called the Digital Marketing Performance dashboard also in partnership with the CMO Council, and Paula Parkes, the head of marketing for Adobe Marketing Cloud, says that this is a “a companion piece that really delves deeper into the strategies, mandates and challenges that Asia Pacific marketers are facing”.

The findings of the study are based on data collected from 648 senior marketing respondents, 56 percent of which worked for companies headquartered in the Asia Pacific region and 57 percent of which worked in organisations with a global turnover of $1.1 billion or greater. 

Parkes says that although the data isn’t broken down into the specific regions, Kiwi markerters were questioned and she also points out that 43 percent of respondents said that they serve New Zealand in the Asia Pacific region.

Parkes explains that marketers are integral to the evolution of businesses and it is thus imperative to open a conversation with them about the challenges they face.  

“Marketing is the catalyst for business transformation and marketers are really what we as the custodians of customer engagement,” she says. “They’re the ones in the driving seat for optimising interactions with their brands. And they’re really seeking the holy the grail, which is ultimately to deliver a unified customer experience.”

The use of the phrase ‘customer experience’ has become common in reference to digital advertising, with executives from some of the nation’s biggest brands now using it as descriptor for their marketing efforts (especially when these involve digital executions). And although the mindset is starting to shift from focusing on campaigns in a single channel, Parkes says that many marketing department still retain very traditional divisions.        

“Marketers in the traditional mindset have been campaign focused. And if you look at the way teams are structured in a marketing department, they are very channel centric when they should be looking at the customer engagement with a brand across all touchpoints. And that’s not just from an acquisition point of view but also in retaining customers and ensuring that you continue to delight them with the experiences they have with your brand … Experience is ultimately your brand. The way that customers are engaging with you is pivotal to your brand.”

Parkes says that marketers who adopt the experience approach to digital advertising are more likely to increase the spend in the channel. As evidence, she says marketers who measure business value metrics spend a higher proportion of their marketing budget on digital, and are almost twice as likely to allocate more than 50 percent of their budget to digital than marketers who don’t measure the same metrics (19 percent vs 10 percent). Similarly, marketers who track business value metrics have higher levels of confidence in digital than their non-measuring peers (75 percent vs 59 percent), are more likely to say that digital can grow a profitable business faster (45 percent vs 33 percent) and are less likely to say they struggles to make a business case for digital spend (31 percent vs 40 percent). 

Interestingly, it does seem that marketers are increasingly seeing digital as more of an experience, with 66 percent of respondents saying that digital marketing enables continuous touchpoints and engagement opportunities, 54 percent saying that digital marketing improvements could help to create a more customer-centric organsiation and 65 percent saying that they want to prioritise digital marketing content strategies over the next 12 months.  

However, reporting on campaign-specific results remains important in the sense that it gives marketers a bargaining tool when it comes to increasing ad spend. This is evident in the fact that 64 percent of marketers said that they use campaign results as a business case for marketing expenditures. And this is particularly relevant when considering that the issue of budget limitations was listed as the biggest challenge in executing digital campaigns, with 50 percent of marketers selecting it as a concern.

Another major issue the report revealed was that marketers are struggling to find talent to manage digital marketing campaigns in-house, with 61 percent of respondents saying that they lack right talent, 47 percent saying that have difficulty recruiting qualified talent and 45 percent saying they lack the budget to bring in senior level talent. 


In response to the findings in the report, Adobe has recommended three digital imperative that APAC marketers should adopt to expedite their adoption of digital marketing:      

  • “Optimise strategies for engagement and enablement by diving deeper into intelligence, insights and customer analytics: Best practice leaders in the region are demonstrating this by integrating tools that help streamline operations, and rolling out new strategies that leverage online and offline data to create smarter experiences.
  • Boost team performance and skills: The talent gap consistently manifests as a major obstacle to digital advancement.  In 2013, 37 perent of marketers said their agency’s capabilities and experience were holding them back. In this latest survey, that number has jumped to 47 percent of respondents, which is especially problematic when you consider that 74 percent of respondents said they were working with one or more digital agencies across APAC.
  • Allocate around a customer-centric business case: Digital budgets are slowly increasing in Asia Pacific, with 79 percent of respondents say they have increased budgets over the last 12 months. Marketers who leverage metrics tied to the bottom line, profitability and growth, are having greater success persuading internal stakeholders to increase their investment in digital.”

Here’s the full report:

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