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Preparing for a cookieless future: interview with Sean Cooper


Preparing for a cookieless future: interview with Sean Cooper


Audience Group scored a major win with the hiring of Sean Cooper. 

Cooper is coming over from Torque Data, a data analysis firm in which he was an equity partner. In 2015, Torque Data was purchased by Velocity, Virgin Australia’s Frequent Flyer service, to bring data analytics in-house. 

Although he enjoyed working with Velocity, Cooper wanted to get back to the thing that gets him up in the morning: helping clients reach their peaks with better data usage. 

The move to an independent agency let him do just that.

“I enjoy spending most of my time with clients [and] partners,” says Cooper. “I enjoy helping them solve their problems. I think that’s what I gravitate towards.”

Finding data

Right now, Cooper is helping companies make better use of data. He feels that a lot of ROI is being left on the table because of inefficient data usage. 

Access to cookies has made marketing departments lazy when it comes to really utilising available data, according to Cooper. They aren’t learning how to make use of the information they have. Instead, they trust Facebook, Google, and other sites with large user bases to target customers for them. 

One thing he does with clients is perform a “data audit” – a review of all the data a company has. From customer profiles to addresses, etc. and mining that data for possible points of relevance. 

As an example, Cooper recently performed a data audit with a utilities company. 

“It had a huge amount of data in the billing system that was really potentially useful in marketing,” says Cooper. 

“An example of that is, you need to let your utility company know if you’ve got a dog. So if they come to read the metre, they’re [aware]. But that [data] sits in the transaction team. You can use it as a flag; people who have dogs use more air conditioning. It’s data you didn’t know you had, and that’s hugely valuable.”

A huge part in preparing for the cookieless future is doing an audit on the data you currently have available, and more importantly, being adept at understanding what data is valuable and can be used to drive conversions. 

Execute better

The second part is in executing effectively on the insights that data provides. The key to proper execution is data sharing. But data sharing has to be more carefully considered now, Cooper advises. 

“Who are all the companies you could legitimately share data with?” he asks. “The consumer expectation is that, if you’ve [shared data] in a way that’s appropriate, that’s okay. If you’re at a hotel and you get hit up for a car hire, that’s probably okay. If you are upfront with someone about what you’re gonna use their data for and how you’re gonna share it, that’s great. It’s where you try and push that too far that you’re gonna have trouble.”

Cooper noted that inevitable resistance to cookies follows a pattern in marketing. Whenever a certain tool becomes too invasive in a customer’s life, there will be pushback. 

It’s the same thing with cookies today, which is why making better use of your internal data is more important than ever. 

Cooper referenced the old saying from John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. 

With more efficient data usage, your media mix modelling can be further optimised, which makes your ad spend go further.

“If you can get to 55 percent rather than half of it, or 60 percent, you’ve actually made a big step forward,” says Cooper.
“It’s a bit harder to get a hold of this data, but it does give you long term competitive advantage.”

Key takeaways

Cooper says there’s five questions that you need to be discussing with your media agency to ensure you aren’t leaving marketing ROI on the table:

  1. What is your cookieless strategy?
    In essence, what is your strategy for reaching specific audiences once cookies go the way of the dodo?
  2. When was the last time you did a data audit?
    This is a key element in answering the previous question. The data audit is a review of all potential sources of data your company has, just like the example with the utility company from before.
  3. What is your data platform strategy?
    Your data platform strategy is how you turn raw data into organised, useful information that can guide decision making. By creating a data platform, you can turn that data into an asset that adds value to your company. In other words, build your data platform like a product.
  4. What is your data sharing strategy?
    As Cooper says, what are the legitimate ways that you can share (i.e., monetise) the data you have available? Who would your customers accept you sharing their data with? Who would they feel is inappropriate to share data with?
  5. What is your data monetisation strategy?
    In other words, how will you use this data to optimise your revenues? It could be streamlining a customer’s experience or pathway to purchase, or it could be choosing the right firms to partner with for data sharing. It could also help you identify which existing customers have needs that aren’t being met.

As discussions about privacy and data ownership continue to happen in regulatory bodies around the world, it’s essential that you start to change your approach to data usage. You need to start looking for relevant information you didn’t know you had, and find ways to monetise that data, either externally or internally. 


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Collin Vogt

Collin Vogt was a writer and intern at Marketing Magazine.

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