People Are People, Not Cookies


During last week’s Daze Of Disruption conference, Sam Hegg chief strategy Officer at Carat Australia shared his thoughts on why our relationship with data needs a rethink and how companies need to execute in five minutes, whilst also moving toward the five-year vision.

In relation to the conversations we’re having with our clients, data is giving us so much more. It’s allowing us to transform media measurement and put more value into communications as an industry. It’s also providing the relevance we’ve always strived for- the ability to target in the right moment, the right person, the right context and the right content.

But, that’s not quite the signal we’re getting back from customers. Audiences and consumers are giving us lots of signals that we’re not doing everything that we should. Ad blocking as a trend is growing exponentially around the world, we’re deleting cookies more frequently and we’re also finding those targeted ads are a little bit creepy.

We’re all probably very close to this industry, as someone in a media agency I have an understanding of how cookies work and why it’s there. But the majority of the population feel they’re being stalked around the internet.

We’re finding that the consumer is telling us that we’re not doing a very good job in a number of ways. The bottom line comes down to the fact that we can’t leverage data unless we have a place in the conversation. We can’t have a role unless we have a clear understanding and empathy of our audiences.

There’s this theme of global platforms and global technology partners; as a business which belongs to a global network we have scaled relationships with the platforms and technologies which are essentially driving culture through the content and conversations which we are having on a daily basis.

Facebook, Google, Twitter or Amazon these are global business that are driving our behaviours at the moment. Far beyond the transactional relationship that we have with these businesses, what we’re doing is leaning into global relationship with these guys so we can understand more deeply and activate more meaningful.


The challenge that we see is as brands have more access to more data and more insights, there is more of a chance for your content and approach to fracture. You lose sight of where your brand is trying to go towards. You start to become more tactical and overly complicating your message. This is the point where you typically lose sight of the person you’re trying to talk to in terms of the audience.

It’s about putting that lens of understanding around what are consumers expecting of us, when do they want to hear from us and what do they want to hear. Just because we can find out a lot about them, it’s a bit big to think they want to act on them.

"Everyone is trying to ignore what we’re doing for a living. If we make marketing communications more complex, it only makes them easier to ignore for consumers who are already predisposed to doing so."

- Simon Lowden. President, PepsiCo’s Global Snacks Group and Global Insights

There’s lots of evidence that we’re overbaking with out communication strategy. What we need to do is find the underlying meaning within the data, what’s the overarching and underpinning story that our data can draw meaning from. How can we use that to essentially steer a course for the brands and clients that we work with to develop those cultural narratives.

That’s why I often refer to the approach of ‘Compass and Radar’ which is the ability to execute in five minutes whilst moving towards a five year vision. It’s methodology that we should all be thinking around, especially when it comes to communications planning and how our brands are interacting with consumers.

The key to this is it’s not about the one or the other, it’s about the interrelationship and balance between the two. I think as an industry as more data, the science versus the art, is overpowering what we have access to. We should never forget the power of an idea, beyond brand size, creativity is the biggest ROI leader that we can pull if executed well.

What has changed underneath that is our ability to identify, design and amplify those ideas. We need to never lose sight of the fact that creativity is a huge driver of brand performance.


*This article originally appeared on B&T here

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