Ben Bold
Nov 16, 2023

AI and economic woes stir up uncertainty for more than half of senior marketers

Two-fifths of marketers foresee jobs taken over by AI.

Cost-of-living pressures are impacting senior marketers. Photo: Getty Images/Sean Gladwell
Cost-of-living pressures are impacting senior marketers. Photo: Getty Images/Sean Gladwell

More than half (51%) of marketing chiefs are uncertain about the future due to economic woes and shrinking budgets, with 84% reporting a hit to marketing strategy, according to research.

The Marketers' guide to sustainable success study, by performance marketing collective Linehub, quizzed marketing decision-makers in key European markets, including the UK.

The findings appear to reflect that things are tougher for UK marketing bosses than they are for their pan-European counterparts. While a third across Europe reported they had to cut marketing budgets in the past 12 months, that proportion was nearly half (48%) for UK CMOs, 16% higher than the average.

Looking ahead, while two in five businesses across Europe were expecting budgets to increase, just one in five UK marketers was as optimistic.

The rise of AI is also of concern to many senior marketers, exacerbating uncertainty – about 40% believed their roles may become redundant due to AI advances in the future. Asked how they might avoid becoming obsolete, nearly three-quarters said real-time market insights were their most significant strength.

Marketers reported that their businesses had had to make structural changes due to economic pressures, from updating or changing product offerings (34%) and restructuring teams (29%) to changing marketing channels (29%).

While the past year had brought a reliance on above-the-line advertising, next year marketers will invest more in paid social, according to the report, with the channel expected to take up the largest share of budgets. Above-the-line will see a budgetary decrease of 1.1%, but paid social will grow by 2.4%.

"Paid online advertising is expected to drop dramatically in the next 12 months, from 9.1% to 6.7%, perhaps due to the challenges faced by third-party cookies and the over-investment in online channels during Covid, which resulted in an overall drop in ROI of these channels," Linehub said. "Two in five (40%) believe that the end of third party cookies spells the end of online advertising."

Martijn Zoetebier, Linehub's group director business development, said: "As we face a future of continued uncertainty on every marketing front, I believe the best way to unlock true potential and achieve sustainable success is to build a solid marketing ecosystem and tech stack and not to put all of the eggs in one basket. By investing in a wide range of solutions, marketers can spread their risk while enhancing their brand.

"This will help brands to secure and maintain a voice at the strategy table, instead of just playing a supportive role. That's why we carried out this research – to ensure marketers have the most up to date and relevant insights at their fingertips to help them to progress faster."

A full version of the report is available here.

The research was conducted by Sapio Research on behalf of Linehub, among marketers in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.


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