Two studies from IDC's marketing group provided mixed messages for CMOs.

First, the good news. A survey of 101 large technology companies showed that they expect to increase their marketing budgets by 3.5 percent this year, nearly matching the 3.7 percent growth they expect in sales. The average survey participant was a company with more than $7 billion in sales.

Trend Reversal

"For the first time in eight years, IDC is seeing that marketing budgets are increasing at about the same rate as revenues," said Sam Melnick, senior research analyst for IDC's CMS Advisor Service. "This is positive news for tech marketers and also a clear indication that the C-Suite is ready to put additional marketing investment up against more promising business prospects."

Those prospects are so-called third platform products such as cloud, social media, mobile technologies, big data and analytics. The survey found companies with a high percentage of those products will be boosting their marketing budgets "upwards of five times" that of the average technology company.

Melnick said the growth rate is dependent on continued investment in third platform technologies. "To continue this growth, executives must continue to invest to be competitive in these high-upside segments," he said in a statement.

Shorter Stints

The bad news is that a separate study of 152 tech companies found that 77 -- just over half -- have replaced their CMO in the past two years as requirements of those jobs shifted from building brand awareness and running campaigns to applying analytics and other digital marketing technologies to help meet specific revenue targets.

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Kathleen Schaub, an IDC vice president in the CMO practice, called this an "astonishing" percentage, although the survey confirmed what she reported anecdotally in a CMSWire story more than a month ago. At that time, she said she was seeing a lot of churn in the CMO ranks, estimating that at least a third of the senior marketers had been in their jobs less than two years.

The new finding also runs counter to a recent study by Spencer Stuart, an executive placement firm, that found the tenure of CMOs has soared to 45 months from just 23 months in 2006.

Rise or Fall

"CMOs must own the digital disruption of buyer experience for their companies," Schaub said. "Those CMOs able to rise to the challenge will be provided more resources and given more power. The unprepared will be replaced."

She said chief executives also must wake up to the fact that marketing departments now directly contribute to revenue and reputation.

"It's their job to pick the right person for today's challenges," she said. "To get the CMO selection right means the CEO needs to understand and get closer to marketing."