Many CMOs are most likely working on locking down the details of their 2016 plans with their agency partners and other important stakeholders, and for many it will be an iterative process until January to create the plan going into 2016.

At Google we're often very opportunistic about "all great opportunities" companies have as a result of the digital world we live in. That said, we want to always try to bring it down and make it as helpful as possible.

As such we thought we would do some role playing and put on the CMO hat for a moment and share an example of what our brief to our business partners would look like if we were the CMO of in this case a fictive travel company called “We are locals”.

Take it for what it is, keep an open mind, and hopefully it will at least be one of many stimuli in your work with setting yourself up for success for 2016. Even if you work at a company that doesn’t work with annual planning cycles, the principles in this brief are equally applicable.

Attached to this article you will find a presentation with our full fictive brief. Please download it for a full outline of our reimagining of the CMO’s brief for ‘We are locals’.

In the meantime, some of the key themes highlighted in the brief are as follows:

Test-and-learn faster than competition

In a rapidly changing world this is really the only long-term sustainable competitive advantage. What are you going to learn next week? If you don’t know, how do you expect to learn faster than competition? Create a transparent company-wide learning plan that you share with all business partners, a clear process for who does what to ensure the learning takes place, and clear learning KPIs. You get what you measure, and if you don’t measure learning you won’t get it. Set aside 30% of all resources and budgets for innovation trials.


Increasing complexity demands greater collaboration to drive productivity. Ensure your agency partners collaborate rather than compete. It’s the advertisers responsibility to ensure all business partners are setup for success to collaborate.

Follow people cross-screens

Remember that people will view most things on their mobile, so when you look at creatives, plans etc, ensure you view them on the device that people will view them. Be where people are.

Take a fresh view of your target groups using signals

Do you know who actually ends up buying your products? Are they always within your target group definition? Take the opportunity to ditch demographic target groups and take a fresh view at your target groups using the massive amount of signals people share today.

Colleagues forward-planning

Be clear about why you are in business

In a world where many businesses compete for human capital and brands compete for attention it’s increasingly important to be clear about why you go to work in the morning. Your CEO should be able to record her/himself with their phone for 1 minute explaining why you are in business in a way that connects with something meaningful. Include that story in every brief.

Use a content checklist to ensure consistency in execution

  1. Brand your ads from the first second to the last (otherwise you pay for competitive attribution)
  2. Proved entertainment/utility value
  3. Stand out

Start with always-on

An always-on plan is better than a non always-on plan since the closer to the purchase a person is exposed to a brand, the higher likelihood they buy that brand, and people buy from your industry every day of the year.

Stick to one KPI structure from the CFO to media and community management

Most importantly, ensure that what you optimize for in any part of the business is always the most important financial KPI that you have committed to your shareholders, otherwise you per definition sub-optimize your business.

Always mix in digital media if using traditional media

The transition from traditional media (e.g. travel magazines) to online media (e.g. travel videos) is a continuous process. Ensure you always have the right mix between traditional and digital media, it’s a moving target.

Evaluate investment alternatives using Reach, Impact and Cost

For Impact take viewability into account as viewability between different media of the same category varies massively.

Put programmatic fundamentals in place

Assign an internal dedicated head of programmatic, ensure you own your data and have a plan for how to operationalize how to benefit from the learning opportunities programmatic provides, otherwise the benefits of more data will just be theoretical.

Strive for 100% dynamic budgets - Ensure you can invest in what works throughout the year.

Have a think about these principles and ask yourself, why not? Keep it simple, have fun and think BIG!