Using data, losing cookies, and innovating post-pandemic

By Lauren Kahn

At the end of January, Rokt hosted a panel with where three of retail’s top marketing leaders met to discuss the future of the industry. Moderated by Hamish Taylor, the panelists included Brian Lange, Vice President of Marketing at VF Corporation, Adam Golobb, Chief Marketing Officer at Primanti Brothers, and Jordan Mauer, Vice President of Marketing at Bluestem Brands. 

Topics discussed included the death of the cookie, industry shifts in digital marketing post-pandemic, personalization, data, The role of the retail CMO, and predictions for the post-COVID-19 future. View the full recording here or check out the highlights below! 

What can retailers expect in 2021?

Death of the Cookie 

Retail leaders today are charged with increasing and engaging their consumer base through enhanced digital experiences with a fraction of last year’s budget. Complicating this shift even further is the death of the cookie. Once, the use of cookies to collect data was the primary way to deliver targeted ads. Now as the third-party cookie is threatened and personalized marketing is required, industry leaders must shift their tactics and find new, innovative solutions. (Read Rokt’s take on the death of the cookie and what it means for marketers.


According to a 2020 Forrester report, 85% of customers would reward sellers who provide relevant personalization with increased lifetime value. Our panelists agree. During the conversation, VF Corporation’s Brian Lange emphasized that the key to customer experience is personalization, and the key to personalization is data and knowing how to use it. He said:

“We have more data than we know what to do with. We need to figure out which source of personalization through data can lead to the most impact in terms of better customer experience.”

Brian identified that industry leaders understand the importance of using data to personalize ecommerce experiences, but there is work to be done to understand which personalization efforts make the most impact on consumers. A 2020 Forrester report supports this, finding that companies face a paradox in their personalization efforts: “Despite the fact that 77% of companies believe personalization creates a better customer experience, 58% say they are reluctant to further invest in personalization because they believe building or enhancing their personalization efforts would require too many resources.” (Forrester, 2020)

As Brian noted, companies have the data and know the next step is personalization, but need to identify ways to implement this data in meaningful ways for the consumers. Companies tend to fall short on personalization and rely on trial and error to determine which personalization is meaningful, which can be risky and require heavy resources. Rokt’s machine learning treats each customer individually, ensuring advertisers serve the most valuable and relevant message and offer every time, improving the customer experience. Learn more about Rokt Ecommerce here.

Rapid Shift From Traditional Marketing

In 2020, people spent more time on their phones than in front of their TVs, and panelists agreed this is where the future of the industry lies. Moving into 2021, we expect an even stronger push towards digital channels, especially as marketers feel pressured to show greater returns on investment.

The steady shift of consumer attention to digital platforms has hit an inflection point with advertisers, forcing them to now turn to digital to seek the incremental gains in reach and revenues which are disappearing in traditional media advertising. This shift, along with the death of the cookie and the increased demand for personalization, will need to be taken into account by CMOs and industry leaders. If companies want to succeed, they must be digital-first, have identity systems to provide personalization at scale, and have the infrastructure set up to deliver relevant and meaningful experiences to their consumers. Post-crisis, leaders in the industry will need to be more data-oriented, adopt a growth focus, and understand their customers on a 1:1 basis and the speed with which companies can transform will determine their success.

Next steps 

From self-service solutions to embracing omnichannel, retail marketing has shifted from highlighting products to embracing the new on-demand customer. The key? Customer-first personalized experiences. 

The panel of top retail marketing leaders discussed, in detail, where they see the industry going. View the full recording here. 

To learn more about how Rokt can use our award-winning AI to leverage data and provide a personalized ecommerce experience to your customers, request a demo or contact today.