“[Instagram] is like, ‘yeah we’re gonna show you the Reebok summer sale and we’re gonna show you this for the rest of your life.’ And you’re like, ‘why? I don't get it.’ And they’re like, ‘cause in 2014 you googled the phrase ‘good sneakers.’ And you’re like, ‘ok; I did do that, yeah.’”
What every marketer knows: Google is delaying cutting cookies until 2024, sparking another round of “What do we do now?” hand-wringing.
What the industry should be focusing on instead: Consumers aren’t stupid -- they’ve had their “good sneakers” moments, and many are jaded after being bombarded by ads that catcall them from their screens.
The past decade has taken us on a whiplash-inducing journey as marketing data has gone from near obscurity to the sole subject of a manic feeding frenzy. And now the industry doesn’t seem to know where to go from here, with marketers and consumers alike feeling the hangover effects from a binge-era obsession with marketing data.
First, we have to stop demonizing data.
Today there’s a much higher rate of data literacy across marketing disciplines. And while there’s a near-universal tolerance of data as a necessity, there still seems to be trepidation around its use.
There’s a truth that all marketers should embrace: Data is good. Often it is essential. It has the power to offer insights into consumers, verify the value of marketing, and prevent brand crises.
But (as any good analyst knows) logical relationships contain overlapping realities: Data is good, but it’s only as good as how much it can understand -- and appreciate -- its creator, the consumer.
Now, let’s put this “data moment” into context.
Marketers are trying to figure out how to adapt to the Great Cookie Reckoning
As marketers, we’ve always been adaptable, creative- and solution- oriented. We should approach this “data moment” the same way. Some learnings will be lost in the eventual cookieless future. However, this opens up a key opportunity: Ensuring the data we do have is used to benefit the brands we work for -- and, more importantly, consumers.
Okay, so how can we ensure the best, highest use of the data we have?
To do this, we need to explore how data interfaces with insights about user behaviors and marketing performance. Consider the following actions:
Data must have meaning: Ensure that you’re drawing from data sources that reveal real consumer wants and needs.
Data collection is not done in a vacuum: The best marketing is fueled by data, yet analysts must collaborate with other disciplines – digital, creative, experience, strategy, social, etc. – that also understand the power of connecting with the consumer.
Data curiosity should be habitual and communal: Marketers should create a cyclical process of gaining knowledge from data, putting it into use, and learning from the work that builds collective knowledge. In doing so, they can offer the best solutions and cultivate multidisciplinary insights.
Here’s the last (data) point: Every team I’ve ever worked on has aspired to create a “connection” with the consumer. Those at the frontlines of data need to help rebuild the bridge with consumers by finding data sources that help us listen to audiences. And then use collaboration to inspire human-first work that creatively gives consumers the appreciation they deserve for sharing their data -- themselves -- with us in the first place.