Conscious Marketing Can Transform Our Cookie-Dependent Industry

Erica Schmidt, Global CEO. Matterkind

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Erica Schmidt, Global CEO of Matterkind.

Marketing on the web is undergoing a monumental shift as third-party cookies are phased out. 

But the real problem is that our industry has gotten so used to them that we’ve missed an important fact: Cookies were never intended to do the heavy lifting we’ve come to rely on.

These little pieces of tracking data often send mixed or incorrect signals about potential customers, resulting in messages that feel intrusive, annoying or even alienating. They’re also not effective at providing marketers with the intel required to connect a message to a sale, i.e., measuring performance. Identity is often disconnected, data is often biased or incomplete, and brands have a habit of beating customers over the head with too many ads.

But with every challenge comes opportunity.

Marketers should use this time to think differently about identity. By applying new concepts and using smart technology like AI to assess and react to data and insights in real time, we can create messages that are more insightful, respect privacy, and offer more rich and rewarding ad experiences.

The core principles of conscious marketing

Good future identity solutions will involve conscious marketing, meaning brands must take a deliberate and respectful approach to communicate with people while being responsible and accountable to their own business.

This requires connecting messages that are respectful, inclusive, relevant, timely and engaging with real people – and that can’t be done without identity.

The right solution will depend on a brand’s goals, capabilities and infrastructure. But, in general, good identity solutions should follow these principles:

  • Only use the data that’s necessary to create a customized experience. Avoid collecting all available information simply because it’s available.
  • De-bias data sets to avoid sending outdated, insulting or alienating messages.
  • Be precise in communication. Don’t exhaust or annoy people with repetitive messages.
  • Be privacy-conscious.

Always address people with kindness and sensitivity. 

The heart of the internet is at stake

What happens if we don’t get conscious marketing right? Customers get bad experiences, brands operate in the dark and the world wide web becomes more walled off than it already is.

Some big players are already keeping more customer data within so-called walled gardens, leading many publishers to shift from advertising-based models to subscription-based models in an effort to continue offering viable and valuable platforms to their customers. 

And with regulatory changes certainly coming but not yet fully defined, some publishers are focusing on protecting data for their own use. While understandable, this can also result in a scenario whereby advertisers are at risk of being more disconnected from their customers.

This is the exact opposite of the internet’s original purpose. The foundational value of the internet – free content and great experiences in exchange for well-targeted and relevant advertising – is at stake.

Conscious marketing means cost savings, too 

We have an opportunity to reimagine marketing and reach people in ways they appreciate and find enriching. Plus, making our messages more welcoming, specific and effective has the added effect of saving money. Brands communicate less and avoid oversaturating customers.

Conscious marketing also helps us achieve the proposition of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time on the right platform (something we’ve collectively been striving for since the invention of online advertising).

How will sophisticated 21st-century marketers operate? Let’s start by making future solutions better than the ones we’ve used in the past.

Follow Matterkind (@Matterkind) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!

1 Comment

  1. Re: “The foundational value of the internet – free content and great experiences in exchange for well-targeted and relevant advertising – is at stake.”

    While I think advertising online will continue to play a critical role as a way to pay for media, I think we should not take that for granted. The industry has not recognized how much cost there is to consumers in tracking and targeting them in ways they are not aware of, and as consumers begin to understand that, they are saying “I don’t like this” and finding ways to avoid it (including alternatives to getting their content), and shun brands they find out are engaging in it.

    The internet has made information sharing and media consumption much easier (the same way printing presses and radio and television had before it) but figuring out the best models to support the costs involved is something that’s always been open to innovation, and increases in technology give us more options than ever before (perhaps some publishers want to start taking payment in crypto; or users complete tasks to earn credits; or someone invents an EZ-pass like system that charges per use).

    Media has traditionally been able to be paid for through various means (pay upfront; get ads; subsidies from public or private institutions). Some (like books) have had little to no success with an ad-funded option. The only media in US I can think of that has been solely ad-funded is network television and terrestrial radio. Most (cable TV, magazines, newspapers) are some combination of models. Of course, many of the most recent media platforms (streaming) are pay-only models.

    Media consumption and how to pay for it is primarily a bargain to be worked out between consumers and media creators. 3rd parties, like marketers, who can enable alternative pay models between those two, will always have a role, if not a critical one, but we should never assume advertising will just be there “because it has to”.

    Marketers also need to begin to recognize that the abuse of privacy the internet has enabled, especially when it comes to advertising, comes with a real cost. As more consumers become aware of it, the relative trade-off in the value exchange between consumers and media companies changes – consumers are increasingly skeptical of who is tracking them, how, and what they are doing with it. Businesses continuing to employ opaque methods to track and target users will have to face an increasingly informed, and incredulous, public. Options that offer less tracking will become more attractive.