Before I walked in the door of the 2016 Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) conference, I thought that I’d be seeing the regular line-up of speakers talking about marketing campaigns they worked on in the past year or so. Don’t get me wrong – I find that interesting, but more and more I am finding that I want more information on the results. Yes the tactics are interesting and sometimes cause the audience to chuckle, but who had to approve the campaign at the client? How was it presented? What sort of projections were used and how close were the actual results to drive whatever business objective the client had?

However to my pleasant surprise, I found that the speakers as well as the attendees were extremely intelligent in their understanding of the current state of digital marketing and the need to get more granular in how to link back results to real metrics in the business.

From the first panel discussion it became evident that “data” was not just a four-letter word. Many of the presenters talked about the need to move from the “Art” of marketing to more of the “Analysis” of any marketing initiative that we want to put in place. One of the presenters even went so far as to say, “Make friends with the finance department.” This may sound revolutionary but was in keeping with the hashtag for the day #MarketingRevolution.

Making friends with finance was just one of the themes which came up throughout the day. Where data is being used more and more in support of campaigns, it also being used to move marketing from a cost centre to an investment. And in most organizations, the finance group is the one that handles most investment, so it’s becoming more and more important to get the CFO on side when we try to explain the costs and predicted benefits to the company as a whole.

Other presenters talked about the need to understand risk not only physical risk but risk of being sued as agencies go about their work for clients. It’s been more prevalent in the United States, but cyber insurance is slowly becoming more and more accepted in this country. Among other things it covers a business’ liability for a data breach in which the firm’s customers’ personal information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, is exposed or stolen by a hacker or other criminal. Other things that are likely covered are intellectual property issues, such as unlicensed content being used on a site or in a social campaign. From the conversations I had, I think we will be hearing more about this in the next several years.

adele_3m-copySeveral of the presenters talked about unique skills that will be required to succeed in marketing not only the next year but into the next 5 to 10 years. This was a marketing background as well as an understanding of technology that put together results in what’s called a “Martech” unicorn. The reason that it’s a unicorn is that the skills are highly desirable but they are difficult to find in the market for talent. I should know – these are two skills I have developed over years, and there are not many of us out there, yet.

But as more and more organizations demand more accountability and predictability from their marketing efforts, the ability to understand both sides including the technology will make folks with these two skill sets very valuable to organizations.

For a young organization, CAMP has put together a very thoughtful and energetic group that is exploring the leading edge of digital marketing. It will be interesting to see how much has changed by the time the conference is held next year.