The Digital Revolution is Advancing at Breakneck Speed: Here’s Why Marketing and Procurement Need to Face it Together

Managing the relationship between marketing and agencies is a delicate operation, and it can take time. But without the disruptive technologies agencies and start-ups have to offer, marketing teams are at risk of being left in the dust of their competitors.

The function of Marketing Procurement was thrown into question when Pepsi fired its whole marketing procurement department in 2015. A major reason for this was the laborious pace at which agencies were being recruited. Speed is a top priority for marketing, especially with rapidly developing marketing technology. The process of onboarding agencies needs to be able to keep up so that marketing procurement can shake the image of the cumbersome bureaucrat impeding innovation, and instead help marketing stay ahead of the curve.

The additional element of time sensitivity has marketing procurement teams overwhelmed. We surveyed 104 Heads of Marketing Procurement from some of Europe’s largest companies to find out how they’re adapting their marketing technology to keep up.


The results are split, a third of the top Marketing Procurement teams are managing to implement disruptive technologies and stay ahead of the game. Half our respondents feel they’re managing to keep up, but are struggling to break from the pack, and a further fifth have found themselves left behind when it comes to up-to-date marketing technologies.

Several Heads of Marketing Procurement specifically described digital advertising as an “arms race.” However, with a clearly developed strategy and a deep understanding of what the customer base responds to, companies can use marketing technology to reach their audience with incredible efficiency. So why are Marketing Procurement teams struggling to get ahead of the game?


Well, the answer could lie in the fact that half the procurement teams we surveyed have no input when it comes to reviewing and selecting martech suppliers. Emma Howcroft, consumer procurement lead at GSK explained, “Marketing and procurement can often be sitting on two sides of a fence, driven by opposing objectives: growth versus savings. The best way to achieve unity is to ensure that each team’s objectives are complementary and do not erode what the other is trying to achieve.”

Howcroft recommends clear communication and joint strategy sessions between marketing and procurement for a more unified mentality. She adds, “it is crucial that both marketing and procurement work as a single unit to promote creativity and drive value from their supplier partners.”

With only 1% dismissing martech as someone else’s responsibility, and 29% grappling for more control over it, Marketing Procurement on the whole knows that it can be a valuable part of the process when acquiring new marketing tech. But Marketing and Procurement aren’t always on the same page.

The last word goes to Sarah Swaney, category lead for agencies in EMEA at Johnson & Johnson. Swaney states that procurement must have a role in new areas like marketing tech, but admits that in practice the parameters of that role still need to be clarified.

“We’re all scrabbling round the bottom and trying to work out what is procurement’s real role here. One thing that is really important is to work with marketing to develop new ideas, and that we test and learn new things. We cannot sit on the sidelines. Managing value has to be about managing that process of continuous improvement.”

Marketing tech is going to be a hot topic at ProcureCon Marketing. Make sure to download the agenda to check out all of the great activities, speakers, & sessions planned for this year.

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