Marketing officers' pay is declining — are they being replaced by technology?

An analysis of chief marketing officer salaries shows not only that they are steadily declining, but also that they are doing so as CTO salaries skyrocket, perhaps indicating a correlation between the increasing prioritization of technology and decreasing importance of marketing.

The analysis, described in the Harvard Business Review, looked at the top five highest-paid executives at S&P 1500 firms. Between 1999 and 2017, marketing officers' share in this group dropped 35 percent. Technology officers' positioning in this highest rung, meanwhile, grew approximately 140 percent over the same time period.

The authors of the analysis suggested in HBR four potential explanations for the trends, most centering on the idea of an overall replacement of marketing expenditures with tech spending as technology holds increasingly more influence over consumer behavior.

The four possible reasons for simultaneously declining chief marketing officer salaries and increasing CTO salaries are:

1. Quite simply, the number of tech firms has increased while the number of firms in industries such as retail and manufacturing that still rely on traditional marketing has decreased.

2. Marketing itself is changing: "Customers now spend an increasing percentage of their income on software-based services that are created, priced and distributed over the internet. They also get more information about products and services from online sources … than from watching advertisements," the analysts wrote.

3. Tech giants and their founders — the most powerful companies and leaders in the world today — may not fully understand the importance of traditional marketing and therefore underinvest in the department.

4. Large organizations are increasingly acquiring and merging with new brands rather than developing and launching spinouts in-house, reducing the need for clearly defined, start-to-finish marketing strategies.

"Whatever the definitive explanation, our findings indicate that the importance of CMOs in the organizational hierarchy has declined while that of CTOs has risen dramatically," the authors concluded. "Perhaps it’s time to stop considering marketing and technology as two isolated departments and encourage closer collaborations between them."

More articles on digital marketing:
How healthcare marketers are taking extra precautions to protect patient data
Viewpoint: What Google's elimination of cookies means for healthcare marketers
Chief marketing officer turnover still highest in C-suite: Average tenure slips to 42 months

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