The Soda Academy

Respondent Overview

Organization Type

Key Insights:

Client participation in the Digital Outlook Study reached an all-time high in 2016, representing a broad array of industry verticals.

Consultancies, once the new kids on the block in digital, have solidified their presence within the community of influencers examining and shaping digital marketing trends.

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Organization Type

The share of client-side marketers responding to the SoDA/Forrester Digital Outlook Survey rose 24% in 2016 on a year-over-year basis. This increase likely stems from the fact that brands are scaling their in-house digital operations and growing their leadership teams by recruiting executives with deep digital expertise — often from the agency side.

The share of consultancies in the respondent mix fell slightly in 2016 (from 10% to 8%), but still stands at double the level of SoDA’s 2014 study. The rise of consultancies focusing on digital transformation via their own homegrown efforts and through M&A activity is no longer a nascent trend, but rather a prevalent movement within the global ecosystem of digital service providers. First-movers Deloitte Digital and Accenture Interactive have been joined by PwC, McKinsey, KPMG, IBM, Perficient, and others in a mad dash to bolster their digital chops and capture a larger share of growing budgets in areas such as customer experience, UX, digital product and platform development, and interaction design.

Brands are anxious to understand what the “digital transformation” mantra should mean for their businesses and how they need to evolve to better serve connected consumers.

Key Insight:

Senior-level executives are showing unprecedented levels of interest in digital marketing research and insights as evidenced by their participation in the SoDA-Forrester Study.

92% of respondents were key decision makers (C-Level, Senior Executives, VPs and Directors).


Respondent Overview

Job Title

Key Insights:

Senior-level executives are showing unprecedented levels of interest in digital marketing research and insights as evidenced by their participation in the SoDA/Forrester study.

Ninety-two percent of respondents were key decision makers (C-level, senior executives, VPs, and directors).

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Job Title All

Job Title Agencies
Job Title Clients

A record 92% of all respondents (up from 88% in 2015 and 82% in 2014) were key decision makers and influencers at their companies (C-level, senior executives, VPs, and directors).

The share of respondents at the senior-most levels (VP and above) was largely consistent on the client and agency sides (62% for agencies and 60% for client-side marketers).


Respondent Overview

Geographic Region

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Geogrphic Region

Just over three out of five respondents to this year’s study derive the majority of their revenue from the North American market. However, participants from Europe and Asia are growing in numbers and importance.

Internationalization — in terms of both the respondent mix and SoDA as a whole — will no doubt continue given the groundbreaking digital work coming out of so many established and emerging economies in Europe, LatAm, and the APAC region.

In fact, 27% of SoDA’s member company offices are now in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, up from 20% in 2015 and 13% in 2014. Globally, SoDA members are present in 42 countries, with almost half (49%) located outside the U.S. and Canada.


Respondent Overview

Marketing Budgets

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Marketing Budgets

The experience of client-side respondents in 2016 surpassed the already high level registered in 2015, with 86% at the level of director or above. These business leaders also control significant marketing budgets. Nearly two in three have US$5 million or more to spend, with 30% at the high end of that spectrum (i.e., budgets of US$50 million or more).

The client marketers surveyed represent a wide range of industry verticals, including financial services, insurance, healthcare, media and entertainment, pharmaceuticals, professional services, retail, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, automotive, consumer electronics and consumer packaged goods.

With digital transformation efforts and disruption taking place across every industry vertical, it’s not surprising that the client-side mix of leaders paying attention to digital trends is the most diverse we’ve seen since initiating this research study back in 2009.


Respondent Overview

Agency Types

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Agency Types

On the agency side, respondents included a mix of full-service digital shops, agencies handling both traditional and digital assignments, and niche players in areas such as experience design, social, mobile, and content marketing.

The share of agencies identifying as “Full-service (digital only)” was higher than anticipated given the large number of SoDA member companies dedicated to niche focus areas, including specialization in place-based digital experiences, product development, user experience, and social, among other fields. However, the respondent base includes a broad mix of member and non-member agencies, with SoDA members comprising only 25% of all agency respondents.