At the Festival of Marketing today Econsultancy published the findings from the new Value of Marketing research, which investigates the sometimes difficult relationship between CMOs and CFOs.

It highlights the difficulties in placing a value on marketing activities, with the majority of both marketers and finance professionals still unable to provide a figure for their return on investment. 

In addition, there are significant tensions and differences in opinion between marketers and finance departments which may be impeding both business and marketing success.

Published in partnership with Marketing Week, the report is based on in-depth interviews with nine senior brand-side marketers and nine senior finance officers, as well as an online survey of 171 senior finance executives and 100 brand-side marketers.

Here’s a summary of four key trends identified in the report…

1. A joint failure to understand marketing ROI

A common criticism of marketing is that it fails to deliver a tangible ROI – and it seems digital technology has failed to render those arguments obsolete.

Only around a quarter of finance directors (24%) knew the return on investment from marketing – even approximately. 

Interestingly, the percentage for marketers was even lower at just 17%.

Do you know what your return on investment from your company’s marketing is?

This is a worrying development for those who believe the rise in digital technology and data-driven marketing will give us a more accurate measure of ROI.

2. Differences in measurement cause a disconnect between marketing and finance

The research also reveals that marketers and finance professionals don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to what share of revenue and sales are directly driven by marketing activity.

Around six out of ten (59%) marketers believe that marketing directly drives more than 20% of their company’s revenue. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only four out of ten finance directors (38%) share that opinion. 

According to Kristof Fahy, CMO of William Hill:

There is still a disconnect where an organisation can have several versions of the truth. I’ll be given different sets of figures from different teams that all paint different pictures. 

But at the end of the day we are a FTSE company where the MD has to be able to stand up and justify it. A single version of the truth is what we need and where we struggle.

3. Marketing and finance differ in both language and personality

An inability to speak the same language is one of the main reasons for the various conflicts that arise between finance and marketing teams.

For marketers, speaking the language of finance is seen as being very important when it comes to building credibility at the highest levels of the organisation.

Similarly, marketers need to be careful of using their own vernacular with senior management. 

Joby Russell, marketing director at, described how this leads to difficulties:

A part of the tension is language problems. Often people working in a given channel in a deep way use language that isn’t consistent with how senior management talk to each other. 

The higher up you go, the less technical language is used. FDs don’t have time to learn marketing language. A big part of my job is decoding.

4. Marketers see themselves as more important than finance realises

There was a significant difference in opinion between finance and marketing when it came to the importance of the latter for the business.

While 77% of marketers agree that ‘marketing is a critical function within our business’, just 62% of finance directors feel the same way.

Similarly, only 43% of finance directors believe that ‘the head of marketing has significant strategic influence on the business’, compared to 62% of marketers.

For the full results of this research, download the Value of Marketing Report.