C-Level Partnerships Affect CMO Compensation

by Sue Kern-Fleischer


A new “CMO Compensation Report” from the Chief Marketing Officer Council reveals that chief marketing officers (CMOs) who report directly to CEOs are likely to earn more than their peers. And CMOs who forge close partnerships with chief financial officers and chief information officers are among the highest paid. This may support intuitive logic, but the CMO Council’s executive officer, Donovan Neale-May, says another of the results came as a surprise to him. Relating to bonuses, which he points out are the most common type of compensation beyond base pay, he notes the research data found that “a large percentage of CMOs — 85 percent — qualified for a bonus last year, and many more respondents indicated they were expecting a bonus this year.” Explaining the significance of this, Neale-May says, “This reflects a more confident view of their future performance and an improving market environment despite the fact that most economies are not firing on all cylinders.”

Variables in Chief Marketer Compensation

CMOs earning more than $500,000 who report to CEO


CMOs at large companies earning more than $200,000


CMOs at small companies earning more than $200,000


CMOs working for a large company who earn a bonus


CMOs working for a small company who earn a bonus


B2C CMOs who earn more than $350,000


B2B CMOs who earn more than $350,000


Hybrid Company (B2C and B2B) CMOs who earn more than $350,000


CMOs earning more than $350,000 who rate their digital marketing performance as excellent


Source: CMO Council July 2014 “CMO Compensation Report”

Neale-May says the results of the report, which the San Jose-based organization released in July, are beneficial to C-level executives, board members, HR/benefits and compensation consultants, internal corporate personnel and recruiting executives who need insight regarding salaries, incentives and benefits. The report, which was authored by Dr. Kimberly A. Whitler of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, also provides insight regarding CMO expectations and perceptions of compensation fairness and value to the organization. This study to benchmark and understand the key factors influencing chief marketer compensation was undertaken as part of the recently released eighth “State of Marketing” report by the  CMO Council — a comprehensive audit that serves as a valuable resource and reference for the CMO Council’s 7,000 members in 110 countries, who collectively control more than $400 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures.

The study results also underscore the fact that the title of CMO is not universally embraced globally. “If you have a CMO title, it does not mean you earn more than an executive vice president or a director,” Neale-May says. “The title ‘CMO’ is only seen about 40 percent around the world. The director title is Euro-centric and is also common in the Middle East, Africa, APAC, India and Latin America, so you have to be careful that you don’t mislabel people.”

The “State of the Marketing” audit, which included 525 senior-level participants, took place during the first and second quarters of 2014. “This is the first annual compensation report we have produced, and now that we have a benchmark study, we’ll ask more detailed questions next year,” Neale-May says. He believes the results of the compensation study show that the future looks bright for CMOs. “Chief marketing executives are not necessarily in the top five positions of a company. There’s now a proliferation of C-level titles, such as chief innovation officer, chief relationship officer and others, like revenue, digital and experience, that should fall under the CMO jurisdiction. In my view, the results of this study show that marketers are starting to elevate their positions,” he says

Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events