PHD: Marketers spend more time reporting than creating

A study by the media agency shows most marketers spend the bulk of their time on reporting tasks — but that will change over time.

PHD: Marketers spend more time reporting than creating

Marketers are often attracted to the discipline because of its creative aspects, but reporting has come to dominate day-to-day roles, according to a study conducted by PHD and WARC.

Surveying 1,721 global senior brand marketers, PHD found that the amount of time marketers spend on reporting tasks has increased by 57% percent over the last 10 years. Globally, more than 88% of marketers say they spend most of their time on reporting tasks, including tracking performance, creating competitive analyses and producing audience insights. Marketers also said they spend more time on planning (83%) and analyzing investments (74%) than 10 years ago.

As AI and automation become more widespread, marketers are spending less time executing campaigns, which dropped from the fourth to the fifth most regularly carried out task over the past year, as well as producing campaigns, which dropped from the third to the fourth most frequent task. 

As time spent tracking and optimizing increases, marketers estimate they spend just 18% of their time thinking creatively and coming up with new ideas. 

The data has strong implications for what marketing and creative roles will look like in the future, said Mark Holden, worldwide strategy and planning director at PHD. 

“Ultimately, AI will enable a junior creative to operate as if they are an executive creative director,” he said. “It will produce a range of [assets], and the creative can decide which ones they want to work with.”

But marketers seem to agree that the pendulum has swung too far toward rote tasks like reporting. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents predicted that in 10 years, ideation will once again dominate the role. Respondents also agree that analytics will take up 16% more of their time over the next decade.

Marketers will be able to focus on more creative tasks as the industry builds out its reporting capability and infrastructure, Holden said. “When you start to look towards the future, [time spent on] reporting starts to drop because people can turn their minds back to how to grow brands with creativity.”

Given the shifts underway, agencies should already have data and analytics infrastructure, as well as talent with niche analytics skills in place to keep up, Holden advised.

“We must apply the same precision mindset that we had applied to technology to talent,” he said. “[Talent] is not a cost to be reduced, but as an investment for growth.”

 Most common marketing functions (global averages)       
             
 10 Years Ago  Today %Ch  In 10 Years %Ch
1Originating73% 1Reporting88%57% 1Originating91%6%
2Reporting56% 2Originating86%18% 2Reporting90%3%
3Producing51% 3Planning83%69% 3Producing90%10%
4Executing50% 4Producing82%61% 4Planning89%7%
5Planning49% 5Executing81%64% 5Analyzing86%16%
6Analyzing46% 6Analyzing74%62% 6Executing83%2%
  54%   82%    88% 
 Source:  WARC and PHD 2021        
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