29 Mar 2021

  • Digital Marketing
  • Data-driven Marketing
  • Data Compliance and Privacy

What the FLoC is happening with Cookies?

The current regulatory environment is becoming more complex, with many moving parts and somehow it is landing squarely in the marketer’s lap. The marketers that will survive the change that Cookies will bring are the ones that get moving NOW. Reliance on compliance teams, partners and agencies just won’t cut it this time. While Cookies are not a core focus of the regulatory conversation, it will impact how regulatory change is applied in practice. The rug is going to be pulled out from under you, have you polished the floorboards?

Why is it so important for marketers?

Cookies have been central to every good marketers’ digital marketing strategy. It has been a source for reaching a target audience, engaging them and then converting to business goals. And now Google is pulling the plug on it. Add to that the obvious compliance measures that will change through regulatory developments, whether that be the ACCC’s digital advertising inquiry, the Attorney Generals Departments Review of the Privacy Act or other Inquiries coming from the ACCC’s Digital platform Inquiry…. it all overlaps with understanding Cookies. Marketers will need to understand how they have a relationship with their current and potential customers in the future. Where there was a reliance on tech platforms to provide this opportunity, this will now be removed, and businesses will need to look at developing first-party data. Currently marketers have cookies at the core of their digital plans. Things like personalisation, audience targeting and re-targeting, tracking and measurement rely on third-party cookies. The third-party cookie’s greatest benefit to Marketers is its ability to remember information and create non-relevant personalised experiences for consumers. The loss of this could render a Marketer’s brand to become increasingly absent from their targeted audience. Moving forward data ownership, transparent use of data and consent management will become the foundation of any marketing strategy.

The onus will be on businesses and the Boards of those businesses will be looking to marketers to explain what is happening to reach, revenue and risk exposure. Where marketers were once able to rely solely on their agencies and technology partners, they will now need to have the knowledge internally as it will have a material business impact, potentially resulting in revenue loss and more than likely resulting in a completely different way of operating. This is an opportunity for marketers to mitigate risk for their businesses and guide their Boards through this time.

Why should they care?

Essentially the buck will stop with Marketers. They are the ones who own the customer relationship, and it is up to them to have the right conversations with their internal and external teams. As the third-party Cookies deprecates, the obvious changes that an unprepared business will see in its bottom line and risk exposure will end up being reflected directly in areas that fall under the responsibility of marketing. Marketers need to care about this current Cookie conversation largely to ensure they are on top of measurement and attribution, in order to maintain or create a competitive advantage and to continue to effectively be able to deliver against their businesses’ expectations – revenue, growth and efficiency of spend. The changes to the Cookie environment will also have a significant impact on marketing spend. It is better for the marketer to understand how these changes can help reduce marketing spend wastage, quickly rather than be left short (or having to explain to a disappointed board). The standard excuse of a marketer that there has been an “algorithm change” won’t fly. When businesses look around and see that prepared marketers have been able to turn the change in Cookies in their favour.

Being able to anticipate the changes will let marketers take control in managing the impact. Cookies have been a tried and tested tool for many years whereby the new models coming out (Floc, Fledge, iOs14 etc) are not, yet. Marketers need to be across these new options and develop an understanding to ensure agility in order to move when things change… and they will continue to change for a while. The best way to do that is to be educated in the environment, issues and options themselves. The environments (data, loyalty, privacy, targeted marketing etc) at their core won’t change, but the way in which marketers achieve their goals within the environment will. Understanding the environment will empower marketers to make decisions around who they will or want to partner with. Your board will be grateful that its marketers were proactive in taking responsibility for their teams and understanding the questions to ask.

Consumers are also becoming savvier regarding this environment. As the issues are led by global giants – the news drips into their mainstream news and newsfeeds. This means your customers are asking more questions about how their data is being used, where they are being targeted and how different legislation will affect the collection of their personal information. And the more questions they ask, the more the regulators get involved and the more change your business will have to face. It is a vicious circle. If you let it be.

It’s imperative that you as marketers get on the front foot now. Learn how to provide  appropriate transparency into your business’s practices and pivot your business to be prepared for regulatory changes as soon as they come.

Senior marketers need to ensure they are:

  • across the issues that face their businesses and the environment they are working in
  • armed with recommendations to the Board
  • educating their teams on the complexities of the changes that will need to be made
  • aware of the questions they need to ask their agencies to ensure compliance changing regulatory environment
  • knowing who and how to partner up
  • protecting their business from unnecessary risk exposure
  • operating ethically, efficiently and effectively
  • follow various regulators differently, historically the ACCC may not have been a key focus for marketers as big announcements from them were provided in updated training from your legal teams. But right now, there are many open Inquiries that are directly related to digital platforms and the outcome of these will change what and how marketers operate Marketers need to be front and centre.

What should marketers do?

Look internally at the key aspects of your own digital marketing strategies, you’re your path forward, being confident that as your reliance models change, they remain compliant with the regulatory changes. Have the right conversations with agencies and partners.

Marketers also need to look outside their businesses; so much of what is happening in the regulatory space will impact the way in which you do things. Don’t be left behind. Understand the various Inquiries that the ACCC have open right now, lean into industry conversations and understand the implications of changes to government regulation are going to impact their privacy policies.

But most of all educate themselves and their teams. If the marketers aren’t on top of all of this, their businesses will suffer.

Use the Cookie conversation to get across every other discussion that is currently in the Government’s fire line. While Cookies are not part of the enquiry, they will be collateral damage of the conversation.

And Finally…

With so many Inquiries about to deliver their milestone reports in different areas that impact the data-driven marketing and advertising industry, this is a unique time and opportunity to become prepared. The ACCC and Government will not wait for marketers to be ready (you’ve already had over a year). Change is coming. It isn’t too late for Marketers to get up to speed. It isn’t too late yet…but it will be. Don’t be left behind, ensure you have a seat at the right tables so you are a part of future decision making.

ADMA is holding a complimentary virtual session for CMO’s who are keen to learn more about  preparing their teams for the changes. We have also developed a virtual masterclass to educate digital teams and enable a proactive plan to be developed.

Need more info?