WFA - Marketing Operations is the New Hot Spot

Updated: Jul 2, 2020


The marketing operations function is expanding in scale and importance as large multinationals transform their marketing departments, according to analysis by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The research, by the WFA in partnership with Flock Associates, found that operations teams are increasingly leading marketing performance as well as having a strong influence in strategy and capability planning.

The findings are based on a survey of 30 companies spending a cumulative total of $US21 billion on global communications.

Two-thirds (65%) of the multinationals who took part said capabilities development was part of their remit with 39% also taking on marketing strategy.

The study also saw signs of an emerging strategic function, more data-led and truly digital with 50% taking on responsibility for data management, systems and technology.

The changes represent a marked transformation of a role that traditionally focused on consumer research but has now moved into areas such as software-based solutions that can increase efficiency and drive agility within an ever-changing marketing landscape.

What’s critical to the success of marketing operations is their relationship with the CMO. Reporting into a supportive CMO not only enables the business to communicate effectively with clear reporting lines but also leads to less confusion on roles and responsibilities within the team members.

Most (80%) respondents said their team reported directly to the CMO, with their support cited as the biggest factor for success (5.4 out of seven), well ahead of staffing levels (4.4), the team (4.1) and data (3.9).

Legacy processes and behaviour, siloed thinking and organisational design, plus the changing agency landscape with data and technology becoming more and more the key driver for change, are all challenges for the marketing operations function.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the function is that while 88% of respondents agreed that marketing operations plays a critical strategic function, 67% felt their colleagues are often unclear what they do.

“Integration has long been a gap to bridge for marketing organisations within large multinationals," says Rob Dreblow, head of marketing services at the WFA.

"Marketing Operations is increasingly well placed to help overcome silos and connect stakeholders. With increased involvement in marketing effectiveness and behaving as a strategic partner for the CMO, this role could be a catalyst for a more unified approach to the benefit of all."

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