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Business Drivers Conversations

Google's Cookie Policy with Kristen Findley

August 3, 2021   By Jim Cuene

Episode 001

Google's Cookie Policy Changes: Getting Real

In the middle of the summer, Google announced it was going to delay the deprecation of 3rd party cookies in Chrome until 2023. While the panic around this change might have subsided, the urgency for marketers is still there. Brands should be actively searching for ways to adapt their model to both the deprecation of the cookies themselves but also the changes coming in the way performance marketing will be measured. It’s not going to be an easy transition for high volume, high-spending marketers. Kristen Findley’s been living this change for the last year or so, working with the ad platforms, marketers and brand media specialists. This talk about the changes took place in the summer, but it’s still important now.

About Kristen Findley

“My 20+ year career in marketing includes time with agencies and client side. Each opportunity has offered its unique experience with audience profiles, data, insights, and the creative produced with those inputs, but my specific roles have very often involved the technology, processes, and the teams needed to execute marketing efforts. I am exceedingly curious about systems, data, and the collaboration required to make it all work. I bring this curiosity and expertise – along with an innate desire to succeed – to every project.”

Transcript

Jim Cuene 00:01
Welcome to business drivers, the podcast dedicated to helping you be a more effective digital leader. business drivers is presented by Ferron and I’m your host Jim Kean. Each episode, we connect the leaders and ideas that unlock new growth both professional and personal. Our guests for this episode is Kristin Finley, Kristen and I are longtime colleagues going all the way back to my first real digital job when both Christian and I were literally teaching people what the web is and how it works and how to make websites. Christians come a long way since then, and now she’s a trusted super thoughtful insights and strategy leader for companies and businesses here in Minneapolis. Most recently, she’s been working with clients on their marketing data strategy is head of media optimization and performance at Cicerone. She’s also lead digital analytics and insights at Ameriprise and she’s led strategy and client engagements at agencies like Camilla and Bolin. I wanted to talk with Kristin specifically, because I want to get her take on the Google cookie deprecation situation. And what that might mean for marketers and their digital budgets in 2022. And beyond. Obviously, things have changed a little bit since Google has pushed their deadlines back. But still lots to learn from this conversation. Check the show notes online for ways to connect with Kristen afterwards. Thanks for listening. So Christian is a marketing leader. What are you excited about right now?

Kristen Findley 01:18
I am excited about this big reset button. I think that we got I think the world got kind of as we start to come out of our COVID cocoon, and the timing with Google Chrome’s cookie deprecation thinking that that was right on the horizon. But now maybe getting a little bit of a break. I think that has forced a lot of conversations that should have been happening. And it’s a great time to reset, like, what are the tools we have? What’s the technology stack? What are we doing here? What are we doing there? And I think, you know, people coming back into the office and whatever that looks like, there’s like just sort of a readjustment and a reset, we got to get to take stock of everything and see where we want to focus for the next few months or years.

Jim Cuene 02:01
I want to dig into that reset idea because you’re the fourth person and the last few weeks that is used that phrase really. And I was doing some writing this morning specifically about this that will come out next week. But as a team leader, what would you do, as part of that reset effort to make sure that your team was well positioned to come out of this time? Well,

Kristen Findley 02:25
yeah, if you’re literally getting back face to face with people and back into the office, it’s having those conversations of like, okay, what are you working on? Like, where are you spending the majority of your time and effort? And what are the hurdles in your way right now, and having those conversations face to face that we haven’t been able to in so long? To really understand? And just, you know, it’s almost just inventory time, like, what are you guys doing? Where are we focusing? And seeing like, is that where we really want to be focusing like ways someone really off track? And what were they doing at home at their dining room table? But I don’t think there’s a lot of that. But I think there’s a, you know, maybe we need to reevaluate, like that’s not where we’re going. And I think those conversations, when you start to have that inventory, then you have to go back and say like, well, how are we measuring success, right. And that opens up this huge conversation. I’m working with a client who’s setting goals, they’ve never set goals before for their leadership team, like they’ve never had a specific goal the team has to work for. So they are doing that as part of their reset. And I think that’s a good practice for everyone. But it’s like, the beginning of the year, almost like let’s set our goals. And then where are we going to focus to get to those goals? Because maybe not everybody’s not quite on the same track there.

Jim Cuene 03:42
Yeah, yeah. It’s almost instead of just a reset. It’s it’s like a regroup and a reconnect. Yeah, and not a restart. But, you know, there’s, there’s something there’s definitely something in the air.

Kristen Findley 03:55
It’s like the first day of school, kind of, like, not in a bad way. But like, I always felt like you know, I love the fruit back to school time of year, because it’s always for me, that feels like a refreshed reset button, because you’re starting new. And it’s almost like that, because we’re all coming back together. We’re seeing each other face to face, and it’s like, okay, what are we gonna, what are we gonna rock on that? What are we gonna do? I like that idea.

Jim Cuene 04:21
So you’ve been spending a lot of time over the last couple years talking to marketers about their strategies, their goals, their data, or lack thereof. When you think about the marketers that are doing, doing it well, where they’re connecting their data to their strategies, well, what are they doing? And what are the patterns that other marketers could learn from?

Kristen Findley 04:42
Mainly they’re paying attention to it. So I think a lot of a lot of us are forced into it with CCPA and GDPR. And a lot of those things and Google, their cookie deprecation have forced those conversations about data. What do we have Where are we putting it? How are we keeping track of it? Is it safe, those conversations need to be had. And if you’ve been neglecting some of those areas, it’s time to start tightening things up. So you are going to be responsible for a lot of data, you should probably already have been but are you storing it in a place where you can access it? Are you keeping it in a way that if someone asks you, What data do you have on me? Can you tell them are the data systems talking to each other, that’s one of my big passion areas is breaking down internal teams, so that the marketing team and the sales team and the product development team like are they all on three different systems, they can’t talk to each other, because that’s gonna make us crazy, and we are not going to be able to do what we need to do. So as soon as you start to pull it, that thread of data, it just starts unwinding all of these things. And you quickly have to assess like, Alright, where are we going to focus and that technology stack is a big deal, it’s expensive, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort. So I see people focusing on that, but not just for the sake of technology and data, what I think is the best use of that is when it’s done to support the customer experience. So you aren’t just doing technology, because it’s cool, although it is, and you’re not just collecting data, because you can get all this data, but you are doing it to serve the customer experience. And I go back to my years of loyalty marketing. And we talked a lot about the journey and you know, keeping someone engaged, and it’s not about collecting points and redeeming points, but it’s that journey. And does the technology support it? And does your team understand how to support it? And do you have everything in place to support it? So that’s the kind of stuff that people if they’re paying attention to that they are a little bit ahead of the game, I think, Well, I

Jim Cuene 06:57
hope marketing leaders are paying attention in 2021.

Kristen Findley 07:01
I know, I know.

Jim Cuene 07:03
So this is a this is a related question. And it’s going to take us down into the rabbit hole a little bit. But as I’ve talked with very senior marketing leaders over the last six months, they’re generally aware of the fact that Google is making some changes to the way that they handle cookies. And they know generally that Apple is tightening some things up and Facebook is making some moves. But I don’t necessarily see a sense of urgency from the very senior leaders. And I think that might be because they might not understand the downstream effects. Yeah. So if you had a chance to talk to a CMO that was sitting on top of, let’s just say, a $50 million digital media budget, and they weren’t, like looking at this issue, front and center, how would you create the appropriate sense of urgency for them to be paying attention to what Google is doing?

Kristen Findley 07:59
Well, you talk about budget, right? In downstream, you are going to be spending your budget, your media dollars are going to be spent attracting customers, and you want to attract the right customers, we talked about that all the time, we have gotten very comfortable in the media world buying our data, we buy third party data, who who drinks Coke versus Pepsi, who’s the suburban mom with two kids in a minivan, all of those, you know, pieces of data, we’ve become very comfortable buying them. And there are many different marketplaces that you can go get them that has sort of become a crutch that we’ve leaned on for media. And so if you look down the road, Google is not going to be collecting that type of data to that detail. They are but they aren’t going to share it really. So if we can’t get that data, if we aren’t able to buy all of that on the marketplace, how are we going to find the customers that look like our customers? How are we going to talk to them? How are we going to reach out? What are our acquisition efforts going to look like? We don’t want to spend more budget just spraying out there, we have to find other ways to do it. And so I would start with those conversations of looking at a current media plan and saying, Okay, well, we buy data here, here, here. And here. We don’t know if we’re gonna be able to get that data. So we need to start figuring out what’s going to replace that. And how are some other things going to support those media campaigns down the road, and overall, preparing for that end game? If you back up, it’s going to get you in line for other things as well to support personalization and to support a better relationship with the user and that kind of thing.

Jim Cuene 09:45
Okay. Yeah. So if I’m a CMO, and I’m spending a lot and I’m using purchased third party data to buy or to target my ads, that creates a sense Have urgency because I won’t have as much flexibility to do that. Going forward, I’ll effectively be locked in to one of the platforms to use their data.

Kristen Findley 10:09
Yep. And it’s kind of interesting, because if you dig down into the weeds, the data is still going to be there. But what Google’s going to share, they’ve been calling a cohort model. So instead of getting individuals, you get a group, they’ve now delayed this to 2022. I think it’s because that cohort model is probably not working as great as they thought it might. So they’ve got something called flock. And they’ve had a sandbox where other third parties could play in the Google Sandbox to see what this new world looked like. And I don’t think it’s going well, I think they’re running into some problems. So they’re delaying it. But yeah, I think that CML has to understand you have what a 2 million 30 million whatever budget that you were putting out in the media landscape, everybody’s always loved digital, because you can target so specifically, and you can measure so well, well, a lot of those mechanics are changing. And so what are you going to do? And how are you going to be? How are you going to be prepared? If you’re using all of that for acquisition? And you can’t, then how are you going to do acquisition? What’s that going to look like? Yeah, which

Jim Cuene 11:19
marketers do you think are going to be impacted the most as Google and Facebook, and we should talk about Amazon, you should talk about the trade desk. But as the as the, as the platforms change their approach to privacy in using cookies, which kind of marketers are going to be impacted the most,

Kristen Findley 11:39
the marketers don’t have any of their own data. And they aren’t doing any sort of, they don’t have any sort of management of their existing customers. And so they are relying completely on purchase data. And they only have segments out on the trade desk or segments that they use. And they haven’t done any efforts to gather information on their own customers, they are going to either not be able to get those segments or they’re going to be paying a lot or the segment’s are going to be really small. And so all of that is just kind of getting get blown out of the water. So it’s those who don’t have data on their good customers, maybe their customers than their good customers, their mediocre customers, you know, all of those segments, they’re gonna be in trouble. So now there’s time to start doing that, right. So if we’ve got a reprieve here, and we got a few years, Google’s given us start gathering data on those users email is still one of the best channels out there. It’s amazing. It’s but it works, right? So send emails, start getting people to engage and to give you their data and to build a relationship with them. Be careful with the data. And that’s where the responsibility and all of that comes in. But you have to get started. Otherwise, you’re just going to be out there with media dollars going every which way.

Jim Cuene 13:01
Yeah, I want to come back to that in a second. But I’m still, I’m still thinking about how do you create an appropriate sense of urgency for Yeah, the top of the house, because, you know, I was talking with a very senior marketer last week that has lived in this data world, the third party data world working with platforms, advising CMOS on the measurement. And his argument was, this is a, this is a nothing burger, don’t worry about it. As Google gets rid of third party cookies, and as others make their changes, don’t worry about it, everything’s gonna be fine. But my instinct is, you know, I’ve been doing digital marketing for a couple years, my instinct is this is going to be a big deal, because of the unintended consequences. And so when I think about the space, I start to wonder, what are going to be the impacts on some of the benchmarks and key metrics that marketers have been building their plans off of for the last couple years. So when you think about things like conversion rates, cost per visit, you know, click through rates, you know, view through rates, etc, what’s going to happen to these metrics as Google etc make their changes?

Kristen Findley 14:14
Well, we’re always still looking for that silver bullet on metrics aren’t really like the magic number or the magic attribution model or any of that. And unfortunately, that is not out there. We do have on the measurement side, we do have GA for Google Analytics for is coming up. It’s out there now it’s that’s actually more pressing, more pressing than the cookies because Google Analytics four is going to be the prime it is the primary one now if you go get a new account, but it’s going to sunset google 360, early next year. So that’s actually more pressing. Because you need to have Google Analytics for up and running parallel because when you switch over, you lose all the data. So you need To be gathering data as soon as possible. And in doing that, I think you can do an audit of what are you tracking? What are you measuring? And also do two things at once. So if you are looking at your measurement and just doing an audit of what are those things that we’re tracking? What are the KPIs? And at the same time, what are the pixels and the outreach that’s feeding that. So like a pixel audit of how many, like we have a Facebook audit your Facebook pixel out here, and we have a trade desk out here, and we have this out here, if you start to gather all that information and look at it, you might realize pretty quickly that you are dependent on a lot of systems and those systems are going to change. And then when you take it into the measurement and say, Okay, well, you know, we are looking at click through rate, or we’re looking at last click conversion, I think the tendency to look at your metrics, just in the digital world, and I’m a digital marketer. So this might be blasphemy, but in just that vacuum of digital, it’s gonna, you’re gonna be behind the eight ball, I guess you got to, you got to look broader than that, you got to look, I just saw Nielsen report that people coming out coming out of the pandemic, the awareness part of the funnel is seriously lacking. Because people were not out in the wild seeing brands in the store or in restaurants or anything like that. We weren’t out there, right? So we didn’t see brands, we didn’t see billboards, we in those things matter. So you can’t just look at the conversion down here at the bottom of the funnel, you got to step back and look at it in terms of like, what are these things that are driving my business? And what do I need to do to make the business run? What are the business goals? And then how does that break down to the actual, you know, online, it’s not just all in this little microcosm of the very bottom of the funnel, because then you’re going to, you’re going to miss so many things at the macro level.

Jim Cuene 16:54
I think I could talk to you about this all day. But that would get real boring real fast for now, for everyone else. I want to come back to this idea of first party data. I’m talking to a number of marketers right now. And they’re kind of struggling with like, okay, I get it, I should be collecting data. I’m collecting email addresses. I’m building. And I’m doing my part to try to build some version of a community via social media. But like, what are the actual steps beyond email that a typical marketer should be doing now to collect first party data that will be useful later?

Kristen Findley 17:33
Well, you should have a place to put it. So you should have you know, you might have your email tool that stores some of that. But you might need to look at a CDP a customer data platform. Or you might want to look at a DMP, a data management platform. And those are all tools out there that can support that data. And then you you start with that name, email, maybe it’s a mailing address, then if you have storefronts, are you getting purchased data? Are you getting their online behaviors versus their in store? That kind of stuff? If you look at what do you need to know about someone? Or about your shoppers, your users to that? What are the things you want them to do to drive your business? And then how are you tracking that information? So is it helpful to know like, if I buy this sweater on athleta.com? Am I likely to go buy the nice matching pair of pants too? That’s important stuff to know, can you store it? Can you use it? Can you then say next time I log on to athletic calm, you’re going to target me say hey, you have this sweater and look at these pants, they are great. So all of those little bits of information that drive the business are things you want to try to capture and have a safe place to put them and create my profile.

Jim Cuene 18:54
It sounds so simple when you put it that way. I No, no, just go get a data platform.

Kristen Findley 19:00
I mean, that’s yeah, it’s it is starting, you know, starting with something with an email platform is often where people are. Yeah, so they’re using something like that, because it captures an email address a first name, last name, you know, that kind of stuff is often where you start. But then what about your sales platform? Does that feed into email? So you know, and then do they talk to each other? And pretty soon as you start, cobbling together different platforms? Where does that start to break down that you need to unify it all? And then that becomes a tech stack question. Right? So does the technology support what you need? And then that’s a whole? That’s a whole other conversation, because you need to step up from your email platform.

Jim Cuene 19:45
Yeah, I think we might need to have another conversation about this. And think about the different approaches. If you’re a marketer, like a small business marketer, like you got a, you know, $50 million business or a $20 million business that your model is gonna be Very different than if your Cheerios or, you know, post it notes.

Kristen Findley 20:04
Well, and that’s what Facebook’s concern is right? So they are concerned because Apple has made these changes to the OS, that you have to opt in to applications tracking your behavior. Yes. Again, like a lot of people love those games on their iPhone, right? But that those games are like tracking your behavior and creating data and selling it. That’s what they’re there for. And that all that’s buying and selling makes the marketplace go around. So Facebook’s argument to Apple, is that, okay? If you’re going to cut that off, and people have the option to say, No, you are making it impossible for small businesses to target these users, they actually did like a whole, I think there’s a website out there for like a whole small business, like don’t cut us off Apple, don’t do this to us. And I kind of see their point, because the platform, the Facebook platform is really robust in terms of targeting those users and small businesses use it and depend on it, and it works for them. So I kind of see their point. And it is a challenge for them as to where you know, what are some of the baby steps they can take so that they aren’t so dependent on Facebook? Because that is scary to to get too dependent on just one channel. Right? So it’s tough, though, for those small businesses, I get it. And I as much as fun as it is to watch Zuckerberg argue with Apple all the time. It’s you know, those small businesses? It does, it doesn’t make a difference to them.

Jim Cuene 21:32
We’ve got a couple leaders that are working with some small businesses that are heavily dependent on Amazon, Google, Facebook. And they they’ve essentially outsourced their customer data to those three platforms. Yeah, yeah. And they’re now looking at the chasm that has been created and wondering, okay, how do I start building my own data, and, and I’ve got a team of five marketers, and my total marketing budget is $5 million, I can’t afford to go do all of the things that I need to do. So there, there is going to be a rude awakening, I think for a lot of marketers, as some of this stuff plays out.

Kristen Findley 22:16
And there are some smaller platforms and some niche things that are bubbling up, you know, there are because this is has been identified, and there are definitely those bigger platforms out there. But there’s smaller ones, too, that focus on those smaller size markets. So I think that need will be seen, and there’ll be some players who start filling in the gaps.

Jim Cuene 22:39
I’m not gonna ask you to make a recommendation. But are there any of these smaller players that you’re you’re watching and learning from that would be useful to have mentioned,

Kristen Findley 22:49
I have been keeping an eye literally, I Google it quite often just to see, and I don’t have one specifically that I recommend, what I do know, they’re all doing very well as giving their demos. So when you go back to any software model, you always can, you know, fill out that form and get a demo. And it’s worth it, to sit through those or to have somebody own that, at least, to start taking inventory of it and start tracking it. And you don’t have to commit right away, but just start paying attention there, there is time to make a decision on that. And those smaller organizations can maybe just start watching, start Googling and start maybe following some of them on Twitter getting some of those demos. So you just start to see what are the options and what do I think they need. And I’m the kind of person who starts gathering data so that I can know what I don’t know and start asking questions. So I think it’s a good time to do that. For some of those smaller organizations.

Jim Cuene 23:49
I can almost hear the people that would be listening to this conversation saying, Okay, we’ll name a couple of those smaller vendors. I should put on my Yeah, I should add to my Twitter feed, or I should put on my my radar, anything.

Kristen Findley 24:00
I think if you Google them, and look, there is one I’ll have to look I can’t be followed. There’s one that I have in mind that I don’t want to mess up their name because it’s too similar to another one. Yeah. Okay. If I stumbled on your name, but I can go back and look and see because I did get a demo from them. And there is also some of the big players are saying that they will fill the gaps like the trade desk and live ramp in some of those are saying that they will fill the gap. Again, that’s kind of outsourcing your data just to a different person, but it might be okay to as a stop gap for a little bit.

Jim Cuene 24:41
Alright, well, I want to ask you just a couple quick questions that I asked folks when I talked to him. And so these are like tweet length answers. What’s a book or a podcast that you’d recommend right now?

Kristen Findley 24:52
I just just started reading think again by Adam Grant. I am late to the Adam Grant party, but I haven’t like him, he’s very Brene. Brown adjacent. So his podcast, his book, his Instagram feed is full of little gems like every day, I just want to screenshot them and say like, yes, exactly. So, Adam Grant is kind of where I’m digging deep right now.

Jim Cuene 25:17
Right? When you think about the world of marketing, or the marketers, or brand builders that you’re talking to, what’s getting too much hype right now.

Kristen Findley 25:27
So I don’t know in this in our world of marketing, and all of these things that constantly circle around us, I don’t know, if there is something as too much hype for everybody. There might be a tool that’s too much hype for someone, but another organization might be able to use it really well. So like clubhouse, I have no reason to be on clubhouse myself. I don’t, you know, but a gaming company, that is a huge channel for them, and a huge Twitch, you know, all of those kinds of things. It just depends for the right team, the right organization, the right need, all of these platforms, or tools or methodologies might be right. It’s just a matter of kind of sussing them out understanding what they are, and then saying, Yeah, that’s not for us, we are good here. And, you know, avoiding the shiny object thing. But I think almost anything that rises to the top to have enough attention around it is probably serving somebody somewhere for for some use.

Jim Cuene 26:24
So what’s um, on the other side of that, what is a trend or a pattern or a strategy or a tool that is not getting enough attention.

Kristen Findley 26:35
So this is actually a little local, and goes back to the days of pre Adobe Omniture. There’s a little company out of San Francisco called extoll. And one of the partners, I think he’s technically a partner is Matt Roche. He is one of the founders and creators of offer medica, an offer Matica was sold to Adobe and became testing an Omniture became test and target, and then became the ABX testing platform within Adobe. So he goes back a long time they’re out of San Francisco, and they have an office here in Minneapolis as well, that is growing, and they love their Minneapolis office. They focus on referral loyalty advocacy efforts, it’s a lot of those different things on a very broad spectrum. So again, back to my loyalty days of like earning points and cashing in points. It’s way beyond that. It’s looking at Yes, influencers in the social channels, but also your best shoppers, and how do you make advocates out of them? How do you create loyalty, so they have a platform that supports it, and they have, you know, success managers to help you run some of those campaigns. So again, a very targeted effort to own your customers data and to have a relationship specifically with your customer, and use that relationship to grow and to build out to other customers. So it’s a really neat little tool, a great little company, they are growing, and they I think it’s going to offer maybe some of those smaller organizations that need some advocacy capabilities. It’s it’s a very scalable thing for them.

Jim Cuene 28:23
That’s awesome. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

Kristen Findley 28:25
I love I love Excel. I think it’s gonna be great and good people behind it. So

Jim Cuene 28:29
and I remember Matt from the early days, so Yes, yep. Well, Kristen, thank you so much. I learned a lot. This is great. I really appreciate it. And thanks for talking.

Kristen Findley 28:41
Thank you. It was great. It was fun.

Jim Cuene 28:45
Thanks for listening to business travelers presented by Ferran. Find us at Hello ferran.com. To learn more about the work we do, sign up for our newsletter and find articles and resources to help you grow as a leader. Or find us on Twitter at Hello Ferran or on LinkedIn. If you like what you heard, please tell a friend. It’s the best way for us to grow our audience. We’d love to reach more people with the work that we’re doing. And if you have ideas or advice or feedback, or complaints, please reach out to us on Twitter or send us an email at biz drivers at Hello ferron.com That’s bi Z Dr. IV ers at Hello Ferran calm. Until next time, this is Jim keen tan thanks

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