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Over Half of CMOs Cite GenAI Adoption as a Top Five Priority Over the Next Year

  • BCG Survey of More Than 200 CMOs Reveals That 78% of CMOs Are Optimistic About GenAI
  • CMOs Are Taking a Pragmatic Approach: Around 80% of CMOs Say GenAI Is Already Improving Automation, Speed, and Productivity
  • Half of CMOs Report Using GenAI for Content Creation, Yet 70% Are Concerned About GenAI’s Impact On Creativity and Brand Voice

BOSTON—Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are navigating a tough environment: intense competition, pressure to “do more with less,” and scrutiny from boards, CEOs, and CFOs around marketing’s overall contribution to performance. In the face of this pressure, many CMOs view generative AI (GenAI) as a tool to improve efficiencies and unlock growth.

Half of CMOs cited the adoption of AI or GenAI as one of their top five priorities over the next year, according to a new survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Around 80% of CMOs surveyed said that GenAI is already improving automation, speed, and productivity. Moreover, three out of five respondents plan to invest at least $10 million annually in AI and GenAI initiatives over the next three years.

These are among the findings of BCG’s report titled How CMOs Are Shaping Their GenAI Future, which is being released today. The report is based on a cross-sector survey, conducted in April 2024, of 200 CMOs across Asia, Europe, and North America.

The report also indicates that CMOs are overwhelmingly optimistic and confident about GenAI. When asked to select words that best described their feelings about the technology, CMOs chose optimism (78%), confidence (75%), and curiosity (65%). However, some CMOs are turning away: 18% counted themselves among the “rejectors”—an increase of 6 percentage points over BCG’s 2023 survey.

Where Marketing Is Ripe for Disruption with AI

How brands manage social media channels is likely to become the first area for real disruption in marketing. Already, half of CMOs are deploying GenAI tools for content creation, especially draft copy and images that marketers refine for social media ads. CMOs also report using AI tools to enrich their social media listening, leveraging the technology to provide more immediate, specific feedback and detailed data insights.

In terms of content quality, however, GenAI still has a way to go. Over 70% of CMOs surveyed are concerned about GenAI’s impact on creativity and brand voice. For this reason, roughly half of CMOs said they are hiring talent with GenAI-specific skills, with the hope of maintaining the focus on creativity and emotional connection as they move toward tools that do a better job of incorporating brand voice.

Success in personalization fueled by GenAI has also proved difficult to achieve. In BCG’s 2023 survey, personalization was among the most common experimental use cases, with roughly two-thirds of CMOs (67%) pursuing efforts in this area. Over the past year, CMOs have learned that personalization is one of the hardest use cases to deploy quickly at scale, but in the long term, it is likely to be among the most rewarding.

“Most CMOs have captured the low-hanging fruit of GenAI applications, but real growth will come from focusing on areas such as personalization, customer insight generation, and predictive analytics,” said Mark Abraham, a BCG managing director and global leader of the firm’s personalization business. “The work is difficult and time-consuming, but those who master the shift from automation to innovation of the customer experience will achieve the greatest benefits from GenAI.”

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