Is Modern Marketing More of an Art or a Science?

13 March 2013 | Blog

By Claudio Marcus: EVP, Marketing & Research

Reading an article titled “What do you mean by marketing as a science?”, that was recently featured on the Chief Marketing Technologist blog by Scott Brinker, made me wonder how B2C marketers would think of modern marketing. Would they see it as more of a science? Or would they still consider it mostly an art?

What I initially found most engaging about the blog article was the chart derived from a recent study titled “Defining the Modern Marketer: From Ideal to Real” that illustrated a survey response of 556 B2B marketing professionals. The general sentiment among these B2B marketers is that branding remains mostly art, although 41% felt that it involves equal parts art and science. When it comes to campaign creation and deployment, B2B marketers were roughly evenly divided between art and science, and 38% specifically chose equal parts art and science. The one area that B2B marketers agreed was far more so in the realm of science than art was the practice of marketing measurement.


I wonder: What would the response look like among a group of B2C marketers? I suspect that it depends on the degree they are involved with more data-driven communication channels such as direct mail, email, or online marketing, versus being primarily focused on TV advertising or other forms of communications that make it more challenging to target, track, and measure related effectiveness.

Despite my initial fascination with the cited graph, what convinced me to comment on this article were the keen observations as to four critical principles of good marketing science. I was struck by how relevant and important these are for B2C marketers. Namely, any marketer who is already engaged with data-driven marketing channels, as well as those using traditional mass communication channels that are increasingly enabling new forms of targeting and measurement. The four cited principles are explained in the “What do you mean by marketing as a science?” article, and summarized below:

  1. Objectively using data to support decision making.
  2. Looking for patterns in the market and in customer behaviors.
  3. Embracing ideas from other scientific and engineering disciplines.
  4. Running controlled experiments to test hypotheses.

Altogether, these four principles make it clear that applying a more scientific approach to marketing will help identify and yield opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness. However, this does not mean that there is a lesser role for creative inspiration. There will always be a need to derive brilliant ideas and create compelling stories that give life and purpose to brands. Going forward, however, it will become increasingly important to apply a broader definition to the art of marketing. As Scott Brinker affirms, “the pursuit of discovery is a spectacularly creative endeavor.” The bottom line is that inspired thinking is just as critical when it comes to the effective use of marketing as a science. As such, when it comes to marketing, art and science will forever be intertwined.