Rahul Sachitanand
May 6, 2021

'We should celebrate the demise of the cookie'

CAMPAIGN 360: Senior marketers from Google, Dole and P&G discuss the opportunity for evolution in the cookieless future, and how far along brands are in transforming.

'We should celebrate the demise of the cookie'

Senior marketers have gotten too comfortable working with the cushion of third-party cookies to track consumers and now face a steep learning curve as they cautiously foray into a future without these trackers. As CMOs figure out the most seamless and effective way to transition into this cookieless future, they will need to retrain their teams to more effectively leverage creativity and engagement to build out a robust marketing strategy, speakers at a Campaign360 session contended. 

"We should celebrate the demise of the cookie," Dole's global CMO Rupen Desai said. "We took tools that were meant for social participation and became extremely good at interrupting people. No matter what data we get, no matter how effective our marketing can be, as an industry, we continue to use it to keep interrupting." He added that the demise of the cookie has forced marketers to reinstate trust back with the consumer.

With the demise of third-party cookies and in parallel with growing consumer concerns about data privacy, the industry may be just halfway 'there' in terms of being ready for the new reality of reaching consumers. "We need to figure out a way to not sell somebody a toilet seat just because they bought one the day before, and data tells us they’re in the business of toilet seats," Desai added. "I don’t think there are many human beings that need two toilet seats in two days." 


As companies and CMOs strategise in this new privacy-first world, they need to start with rebuilding trust with consumers, Simon Kahn, CMO, APAC for Google stated. "With a privacy-first mentality, part of what we're doing is creating cross-functional teams that are ensuring that we're adhering to all the right privacy principles when we're developing products. We're all, first of all, getting better at collecting first-party data, but [must] then use it in a safe way."

Kahn also said that using technology, especially tools such as machine learning, marketers can now be more efficient with their plans and learn to do more with less. "We really believe that performance and privacy are not mutually exclusive," he said. "You can have both and achieve really great results."

As marketers consider the future of their field, Alexandra Vogler, senior director of ecommerce for Asia, Middle East and Africa at P&G, said the deluge of data meant that marketers would increasingly break down their campaigns into shorter iterative pieces rather than single monolithic campaigns. "I think where the systemic shift is coming from is really the speed at which this data is being delivered to us," she said. "I think this shift is really the granularity and the fragmentation as well as the speed."

Speakers in this session also argued that the disappearance of the cookie and heightened concerns over consumer data would have ramifications on the role of the CMO itself. "The role of CMO has expanded. ... In large part, it's happening because there's a bit of a convergence between technology and marketing," said Google's Kahn. "CMOs really need to be at the forefront of understanding how they can deploy new technology in order to be more effective, and to have their teams be more effective in their jobs." 

As CMOs witness the ground shifting beneath their feet, they are also having to wrestle with changing dynamics with their business models, moving from farming out business entirely to agencies to taking more business back in-house as concerns over data and privacy are accentuated. 

"There's still huge opportunities in the ecosystem for agencies," says Kahn.  "We want to have people who really are versed in privacy, and are versed in how to use tools like machine learning, but we also need agencies to do that. And agencies that step up, bring the right people on board, and really learn how to provide those services." 

Vogler of P&G said there was some work the company did move in-house, primarily because she couldn't find capabilities in a specific field or domain. In terms of work it sends out, she focuses on "three parameters: something new that doesn't exist, something that we can do faster or something that we can do cheaper as we think of what the in house."  

She reckoned that as marketing moves from one slow and heavy-set piece of the organisation into a system of many moving and agile parts, organisations would recast the way they considered work given out to agencies and what they keep in-house. "There's also a lot of startups and new agencies coming on the market, which offers services which didn't exist earlier.... For example, on design automation, which is a new space. Working with traditional agencies with new capabilities, as well as working with new smaller partners ... enables us to continuously test and learn new things." 

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