OK, so it’s missing the “Sex” and the “Videotape,” but we consider it a fair exchange as there are more “CMO Surveys” than “Sex Videotapes” nowadays.
Loyal readers know we have been here many times before, most often with our friends at the CMO Council, poking holes in survey after survey. Today we introduce a new source, one so plagued with faults it might take us two weeks to step through them all. Dust off your seismometers!
Welcome to “The CMO Survey,” which can be found at CMOSurvey.org. Now in its sixth year, this semi-annual survey is pure academia, sponsored by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business (we shall resist cheap shots on the name as long as possible), and piloted by Professor Christine Merman, er, Moorman.
Before we tackle our first CMO Survey fault, allow us to raise two higher-order issues.
>>> Issue #1: As part of its 13-word tagline, The CMO Survey claims it “[predicts] the future of markets.” It is a strange, illogical promise, sounding more like something your stock broker would say. We’ve looked through all 60 pages of the most recent survey (the “February 2013 survey”), and find no predictions of anything, “markets” or otherwise.
>>> Issue #2: Just like the CMO Council, The CMO Survey’s effort isn’t confined to CMOs. We’ve said it a million times, but there just aren’t enough CMOs, nor hours in their days, to take all of these so-called “CMO” surveys.
To wit: from the February 2013 CMO Survey report’s methodology page:
- 4963 top U.S. marketers were sent the survey (emphasis ours)
- of those that took part, 95% were VP-level or above (emphasis, again, ours)
“The VP Survey” or “The Top Marketers Survey” would be (more) truthful, but wouldn’t have the je ne sais quoi quality that “CMO” does.
With that out of the way, let’s place our scanners on fault line #1: “Marketing spending on traditional advertising continues to plummet.”
So says the headline on page 21 of the survey, as well as the opening title in a video short of Prof. Merman, er, Moorman, summarizing the survey results.
Let’s look at this from the inside first, then from the outside.
Let’s say you are a “top marketer,” who agreed to take a 50+ question survey. Without any preparation, nor resources at hand, one of the questions asks you to parse your entire marketing budget by type of spend, by %. How could you possibly get the answer correct?
One of the categories of spending comes with loaded terminology: a la, how much will you change your spending on TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING ? All the other choices have sweet-sounding words like “digital” and “brand building” and “new.” You remember reading somewhere, on a content farm like Mashable or LinkedIn, that traditional advertising is dying. So you answer that yours is too.
Only one historical graph is shown for the “spend by type” results discussion: yep, you guessed it, that of the expected change in “traditional advertising.” And, at that, we are shown only the prior four surveys’ data points, which yield a line sloping smoothly downward.
From an expected GAIN in spending on traditional advertsing of 1.3% in August 2011, the number has fallen to -0.8%, then -1.9%, then -2.7%. Note the difference between the last two is a drop of 0.8 percentage points. Yet, the same survey participants said their digital spend would fall by 1.3 percentage points from the last survey to the current one. Plummet much?
In Part 2, we’ll take an “outside” view, looking at actual marketing spend figures. They don’t corroborate The CMO Survey’s findings at all.