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Digital Marketing Is Evolving – How Can You Prepare?
Episode 99

Digital Marketing Is Evolving – How Can You Prepare?

CI to Eye with CI Consultants

This episode is hosted by Erik Gensler.

0:00 / 0:00

In This Episode

In response to demands for increased user privacy, Apple’s iOS 14 update will make it easier for users to control how their data is shared with apps. Following suit with legislation like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California, Apple and other tech companies are making updates that will change the entire digital marketing ecosystem as we know it. In this episode, Erik talks with four CI consultants about what arts organizations can do to prepare.

Erik Gensler: Welcome to CI to Eye. This is the largest group of people we’ve ever had assembled here. Let’s go around really quickly; introduce yourselves.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Hello, my name is Ally Duffey Cubilette.

Ali Blount: I am Ali Blount.

Becky Ludkiewicz: My name is Becky Ludkiewicz.

Rachel Purcell: My name is Rachel Purcell.

Erik Gensler: And internally, we are dubbing you the “Queens of Darkness,” because you are leading our efforts at Capacity around a lot of the changes that are happening in the world of digital marketing. So, I want to start off by asking, what is changing? Why did we make our Queens of darkness committee? What is going on in the world of digital advertising? What’s changing and why?

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Can I just explain the “Queens of Darkness” name a little bit because I think that it also helps answer that question? The darkness that we are referring to is the general state of unknown that we find ourselves in with all of these changes. That’s where that name comes from (laughs).

Ali Blount: I think we need to maybe change ourselves to the “Bringers of Light” or something now, though. Cause I feel like we’ve gotten through the darkness and I feel like we know what we’re doing. We have action steps. I feel like maybe we need a name change. I don’t know.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Rebrand!

Ali Blount: Yeah (laughs).

Becky Ludkiewicz: You stole the pun right from my mouth, Ali, because-

Ali Blount: Oh, I’m sorry!

Becky Ludkiewicz: (Laughs) This is Becky. I was going to say, “To shed some light-

Ali Blount: (Laughs)

Becky Ludkiewicz: “… on everything that’s changing…” I would say the impetus of our foundation as the Queens of Darkness is primarily around the upcoming change in Apple’s operating system, iOS 14 specifically. So, to explain that a little bit: in response to demands for greater privacy, Apple’s next operating system update, which is iOS 14.5 will make it easier for users to control how their data is shared with apps. And with this update, all Apple store apps will prompt users to opt in or out of having their data shared and applied for various purposes, including advertising. So, this specific element of the update is called ATT, which stands for App Tracking Transparency and it’s new. It’s different from the past, when users were automatically opted in and would have to manually opt out. So, this prompt increases transparency so that people understand that they own their data and have complete say in who gets it.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: I would also add that this is just the latest in a series of privacy measures taken by companies and governments around the world. So, I think a couple of examples of that are GDPR, which is European data privacy regulation that happened a few years ago. California also took steps to mandate some user privacy standards, so that was called the CCPA—lots of acronyms here—and then this update from Apple is just the latest in a string of changes to the way that they enforce data privacy for users across the web.

Rachel Purcell: One quick thing that I would add to that—this is Rachel—is that something that Facebook has come out and said is that there is an inherent challenge in the fact that there, so far, is not federal legislation in the US around … at least, recent updates to federal legislation in the US around consumer privacy in this way on digital platforms and as a result, Facebook and other apps that are having to accommodate state legislation that’s different state by state, as well as private companies like Apple making privacy updates that ultimately affect the user of apps. So, there is a need to sort of realign rules to align with the lowest common denominator and most intense privacy structures, even when those may not be applicable to everybody. For example, not everybody has an iPhone, but the updates that Facebook is making to be compliant with iOS 14’s ATT policies have to apply to everyone. They can’t only apply to iPhone users.

Erik Gensler: Right, I think it’s safe to say that, like, Apple fired the first shot or made the first, biggest move that is forcing a real re-shifting of the digital marketing ecosystem in a way that we haven’t seen in quite a long time. And so, Apple made the first chess move that made all the other players have to realign. Do you think that’s fair to say?

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Yeah, definitely. And I think they made the first step a while ago. I think we have a blog post on ITP and ITP 2.0 that people can go back and look at about the changes that Apple has made over the last couple of years, and this is just the latest. So, Apple, I think, is really driving this, but many other tech companies and browsers are … like Google, for example, is following suit and issuing similar kinds of privacy regulations and changes to the way that they respect user data.

Ali Blount: The latest, and I would assume kind of like one of the early ones. And I would not be very surprised at all if this leads to many more changes down the line, which hopefully it does. I think there’s lots that can be done in this realm in terms of regulation. But I would not be surprised if this is the first of many changes to come and that we’ll kind of have to keep adjusting based on all these changes that come about.

Becky Ludkiewicz: I was recently listening to a podcast, Erik, that you actually recommended with Kara Swisher of the New York Times and Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. And one thing that he said in that podcast is that he thinks privacy is one of the top issues of the 21st century and he thinks that we are in a crisis. And, years ago, he thought that companies would regulate themselves and get better, but he no longer believes that that’s true. So, that’s just one of the reasons, philosophically, why Apple is making this move now.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, definitely recommend that podcast. Apple sort of built their strategy around—he won’t admit to that in the podcast—but, like, seeing some of the wild, wild West things with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and they have shaped their strategy. And on this podcast, he said it’s always been a part of their ethos, but really planting a flag in the sand and saying, “We, at Apple, are going to be the privacy folks and we’re going to make big moves.” And so, this is one of their big moves and I want to jump into, so, Apple makes that big move; how does that impact digital advertising? And the four of you spend much of your days in platforms, working with arts organizations, helping them use digital tools to sell tickets and reach their goals. By Apple making that change, what was the effect of how that’s changed your world and how it’s changed digital advertising, for everybody and for arts institutions?

Rachel Purcell: Well, interestingly, it hasn’t quite yet. It’s worth noting that Apple and, by nature of that, Facebook have been a little vague and sketchy on what the timeline of this update actually is. We expect that it will be this spring. We don’t actually know what the drop date is. So, what we do know is what we can discern from what Apple and Facebook have released so far. We can’t yet speak to actual impact on for example, campaign performance, because we’re not quite in that new world yet.

Erik Gensler: There’s still been a ton of work that you all have been doing to prepare and have a pretty good sense of what’s going to happen. So, who wants to walk us through that?

Ali Blount: There are a lot of changes. It’s kind of … Generally speaking, this is going to affect basically every element of what we do in digital marketing because, frankly, it affects every single platform. You know, every platform is sold through the App Store, so by that nature, it’s going affect every single platform. If we say Facebook, we are very Facebook heavy at CI, and for good reason. In our experience, it’s the most effective platform. But I think it’s just worth noting right at the top that this affects every single digital channel. There’s not, like, another place you can run to outside of Facebook and Instagram. So, it affects everything within every platform and it affects everything we do. It’s going to affect measurement. It’s going to affect our ability to optimize as a result of the effective measurement. It’s going to affect results. It’s going to affect audiences. It’s really going to have a pretty widespread trickle down into everything that we do within these platforms.

Rachel Purcell: I would say that one overarching element of this is that what is really being removed by these new policies is the ability to track across apps and across websites. So, what that means is, historically at CI, if we’re running a Facebook campaign, we have access to remarketing audiences, where we can track a person who has visited your website, if you’re an arts organization, or a specific page of your website, and their user behavior on your website can then inform what kinds of ads we’re serving them on digital channels. That ability is functionally going away. What we’re getting really cut out of the equation by this update is the ability to track people’s behavior on something other than the app that they’re using in that moment. So, we still do very much have the ability to, frankly, know quite a bit about users from their Facebook behavior. Facebook still has a pretty good idea, based on what people are liking or sharing or reading on their own platform, what a user is interested in, but we’re going to be more limited to that data that’s collected in-platform, as opposed to the data that was formerly able to be collected across a number of other apps and websites and aggregated for targeting on digital platforms. One particular way that this can show up on Facebook, specifically, is, rather than focusing, perhaps, on website retargeting audiences and targeting certain ads to folks who visited certain pages of your organization’s website, you may, instead, be switching to something like video retargeting and focusing on folks who watched a video about a certain production that your organization is doing, because that’s in-app activity that is not affected by a lot of these data regulations.

Ali Blount: I’ll be very curious to see—and this is one of those things where we don’t know yet because of the changes haven’t gone into effect—but I will be very curious to see how much the efficacy of these audiences is impacted because, as Rachel said, Facebook does still have a ton of data about you within their platform. So, I’m thinking about something like lookalikes on Facebook, which is an audience—and when we are talking about audiences within, you know, Facebook or Google, we’re talking about pools of people that we’re targeting—basically, you give Facebook a seed list of … let’s say the most common example might be purchasers. So, let’s say you have purchasers of a concert of yours. You send that list into Facebook and then they come out with a list of people who look like those purchasers, based on any number of variables within their algorithm. That’s what the lookalikes audience is. And I do wonder if that’s going to be, you know, something like that might not be affected. Lookalikes in our experience, is an extremely effective acquisition audience. Facebook’s algorithm is so smart and so strong and something like that, in theory, should not be affected by these changes because all of that data that they’re using to come up with lookalikes is within Facebook. So, it’ll be interesting to see just how much things will really be changed.

Erik Gensler: We’re talking about, really, targeting here. And I think over the years, both Facebook and Google and all of these platforms have just gotten so smart in terms of the ability to hyper-target based on micro-behaviors and Google has rolled out, particularly within search, some really amazing tools around automated bidding, where if you set up a campaign correctly, it gets smarter as it goes on, based on behavior of users within Google suite of platforms. So, why does Google have Google Search? Why does Google have free Gmail? Why does Google have Maps? Cause all of those are just data points on the Google platform. Google knows that I’m in the market for glasses because of my behavior. They don’t need to have a remarketing pool on the optician’s website to know that I’m in the market for glasses. Those data pieces are there. And Facebook knows that I love gardening. Facebook knows that I like to go to see plays on Broadway. So, a lot of that information is already there. So, we’re not going to be able to use retargeting, but we are going to be able to use a lot of these other tools. Let’s focus on measurement. How is this change going to impact how we’re able to measure and report on something like an ROI of our campaigns, or of anyone’s campaign?

Ally Duffey Cubilette: At base, the most important thing to keep in mind around measurement is the mechanism that’s forcing this change, which is the opt-in/opt-out option for people. So, if somebody opts out, we will have very limited ability to measure how they behave after they see a campaign across platforms. Just to reiterate, this is not just Facebook, that is across platforms. So, the estimates that I have seen—and of course this hasn’t rolled out yet, so we don’t know for sure—but the estimates that I have seen are suggesting that the industry expects between 60 to 70% of users to opt out. So, if you think about that and what it means for your campaign results, however you measure those, there will be a significant in the number of conversions that you are able to record. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. This isn’t a change to user behavior; simply what we can measure of it, which, you know, is a bummer in and of itself, but that’s really what’s impacting the measurement.

Rachel Purcell: Also, historically there’s always been marketing channels where it is nearly impossible to calculate a definite ROI, right? If you invest in subway ads or a billboard or radio, you can provide promo codes that are specific to those channels, perhaps, as one way of measuring that. But you know that in any market, folks who ultimately buy tickets to your performance have seen a number of things. Maybe they’ve received a direct mail piece. They’ve also driven past a billboard three times and maybe they’ve also received a Facebook ad. So, we still have these digital platforms in the marketing mix. We still think that they are critical. We know how many users are spending so much time on these platforms. They just might start to lean ever so slightly more into the bucket of less trackability and less direct attribution that’s possible. That said, we don’t even get impressions from a billboard.

Erik Gensler: And you all have done some analysis on how much you think something like ROI is going to decrease. Again, user behavior is not going to change, but our ability to track it how we were is going to change. So, does anyone want to talk about how some of the quantities of impact you’ve seen?

Ali Blount: It’s interesting, in our reports and the reports I’ve been providing just to my clients, I’ve been showing them two different attribution windows. And attribution windows are the amount of time that we are going to count a conversion that’s attributed to an ad and that conversion can be a purchase or a key page view or whatever the action is that we want people to take from our ads. So, we might say, you know, “Everybody within seven days …” If I have a seven-day attribution window, it’s going to be, if somebody within seven days saw my ad, their action will be attributed, will count towards that ad as an action. So, I’ve been showing—just for my reports—I’ve been showing an attribution window of seven days and an attribution window of 28 days, which, historically, is the default attribution window for Facebook. So, Facebook, historically, will say, “Within 28 days, if somebody takes an action, we are going to count it towards the last ad that they saw.” And there is definitely a significant decrease. I think it depends on what the conversion action that we’re talking about is and it’s also kind of hard to say right now, because we’re looking at virtual programming, which tends, frankly, to just be purchased much closer to the actual performance. So, I think having this conversation now versus having it in a year when—fingers crossed—we’re back in a physical space will be very different, but there is still definitely a decline. I don’t have an exact percentage for you because really varies from campaign to campaign and from client to client but there is a significant decline in what we’re seeing. That being said, though, at least for me, this is not something—and this is something I tell my clients—it’s not something that I find particularly concerning. Like Rachel said, this is just what we can attribute to a campaign within these windows, that the conversions are still happening in real life. And, frankly, we can’t even necessarily say that our ads were definitively the thing that drove those conversions. You know, we have to look at a full marketing mix and how all of the platforms work together to make somebody make that decision to purchase. So, when we’re talking about attribution windows or things like that, at the end of the day, it’s all touchpoints and it’s all something that is just going to get somebody to take that action, to make that purchase, whatever it is that we want. So, those things are still happening. They’re still seeing those ads, even if we can’t necessarily point to it and say, “This is the one ad that caused this person to purchase those tickets,” which is never something we’ve been able to do.

Erik Gensler: Very “Queen of Light” of you, Ali.

Ali Blount: Thank you (laughs).

Erik Gensler: Taking the rebrand (laughs) already into action.

Rachel Purcell: What’s interesting about that, too, Ali, is—not to make this even more complicated—but I would add that it also matters who you are as a user and what your proximity to the organization or the performance or whatever it is, is. And what I mean by that is, I’ve started to notice, “Where do I see more of that seven-day attribution versus 28-day attribution across different types of targeting segments or different types of audiences?” So, for example, somebody who is in a CRM targeting audience—a CRM list, email addresses, that’s been uploaded to Facebook for targeting—they actually tend to have less immediate post-click attribution than somebody who is, maybe, an acquisition target, a prospect in a lookalikes audience, who might click be much quicker to click something. And I think that the reason for that is that somebody who is less familiar with you as an organization and maybe hasn’t seen as much of your content, that person is going to see something in their feed that catches their attention and they’re going to click and engage right away. They’re going to go visit the website right away because they’re curious. Somebody who is already on your email list, is already receiving emails from you, already receiving direct mail from you, they might see your ad in their feed and be like, “Oh yeah, I’m super psyched about that play,” but maybe they’re not going to buy it for another two weeks when they get that, “Last chance to see this play!” email in their inbox. So, there is also just a huge difference when we talk about measurement in what we expect to see from somebody who already knows who you are, versus someone who doesn’t.

Becky Ludkiewicz: There are also a number of other things that we can continue to measure. It’s not just about web-based events, being key page views and purchases that are happening through your e-commerce platforms. There are other things that we can look at, other key performance within the social platforms, to determine how effective our campaigns are. So, some things that we are looking at are things like engagements, engagement rates, and how much of a video somebody is watching. All of these sorts of things are still ways to prove and determine the success of these campaigns.

Ali Blount: Also, when we’re thinking about impact, I do want to bring it back to the darkness a little bit, just because-

Erik Gensler: (Laughs)

Ali Blount: … with all these changes, I’ve been thinking so much about how all technology has good and bad and I think all changes have good and bad. And I think we’ve done a good job talking about the good within these privacy changes—and I do think there’s a lot of good there—but there are definitely some downsides and I think one of the big ones is that we won’t be able to optimize campaigns quite as effectively. You know, much as we talked about how measurement is in some ways not necessarily hard and completely real numbers—there’s a lot of nuance there—within optimizing a campaign and trying to make a campaign as effective as possible and make shifts within that campaign, those numbers were really helpful and are really helpful to guide us on what changes to make, to know if, you know, money needs to shift from one audience to another, to know if a certain age group is performing better and we want to kind of bid up on those people and put more money into them. And so, when we’re taking away some of our measurement, we are taking away some of our ability to optimize campaigns. It’s not to say that we can’t optimize campaigns; it’s just not going to make it quite as easy for us or for whoever’s optimizing campaigns, which is an unfortunate thing. Facebook has basically come out against Apple and said that this is really going to hurt small businesses. That’s one of their key arguments against these changes and I think that that’s a lot of what they’re referring to there and a lot of the impact we’re going to see, for the arts in particular. When we’re talking about having a very small budget and needing to use those dollars as effectively as possible, optimizing is really the best way to do that. It’s to ensure that we are going to spend that budget as well as we possibly can and to find the best viable audience that we can. And when we don’t have quite as much data to do that, that does affect the way that we can ensure the efficacy of these campaigns.

Rachel Purcell: I think that this is also related to a larger move on Facebook’s part, in particular, over the last few years—and Google’s as well—where on a lot of these digital channels, we, as advertisers, are constantly encouraged to put more faith in the machine learning and let the platform do more automatic optimization, whatever that means for that platform and that campaign in particular. So, we have seen successes and failures with trusting that machine learning, you know? So, I think that that’s part of this, as well, is, to Ali’s point, we’re going to be losing a lot of the ability to make really manual optimizations on our end, which is going to mean putting more faith in the algorithms themselves and trusting, frankly, that Facebook will automatically serve more ads to the age group that’s performing best. So, I think that that’s part of this, as well, is just recognizing that there is this massive machine learning effort happening on the backend that sometimes we can trust and hopefully it will just keep getting better and we can trust it more.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: One of the things that I think is most interesting about the arts industry and doing this work that we do is that kind of question of scale, to me. So, like, there’s a lot of talk in digital marketing about machine learning and automation and big data. And, honestly, many arts organizations operate in the realm of small to medium-sized data. And so, then, how do you think about these platforms and their capabilities in that context? And I think it does require a little bit more of a human touch and a little bit more of a customized approach to these campaigns rather than just letting the platforms do what they will with the dollars that you give them. Specifically to Ali and Rachel’s points about, you know, we have small budgets and we want to use them effectively.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Ali Blount: I agree so much. This is something I’ve always said with this machine learning, is that that might work for when you’re selling sneakers—for some reason, at CI, we love to use sneakers as the example of a thing that we sell that’s not the arts. I don’t know why (laughs). This might work when you’re selling sneakers, but when you’re thinking about the purchase path for, let’s say, theater, you want to get somebody to your website first, and then they need to click around on your website a little bit, and then you have to get them to purchase the ticket. And then, maybe you want them to purchase a subscription six months later. And that’s a nuance in those conversion actions that you want somebody to take that doesn’t really exist when you’re talking about selling sneakers cause the, the action that you want, somebody to take changes over time and that’s something that we really, as humans, need to do.

Erik Gensler: And the other thing, when you’re looking at a lot of the case, studies that … you know, Google saying, “Automated bidding, we’ll figure it out.” It’s like, yeah, if you have millions of dollars, you have millions of data points, it gets a lot smarter. So, these case studies are designed for, often, organizations or companies that are selling products to the masses, that have the money that Google can optimize and test and learn in a way that we’ve just not seen because, simply, we don’t have the money to do that.

Becky Ludkiewicz: Or the inventory!

Erik Gensler: Yeah (laughs).

Becky Ludkiewicz: We’re not selling unlimited widgets, you know? We’re selling finite seats, most of the time, on a specific date and time and it’s all variable.

Ali Blount: In a specific city. It’s not like a movie where you can go see it anywhere across the country.

Rachel Purcell: And there’s a different consideration period because, you know, I might ask my friend their opinion on a pair of sneakers before I buy it, but I really don’t need anybody else to sign off on that purchase, whereas most of the time, if I’m going to see a play, I’m coordinating with at least one other friend or my fiancé or a coworker to see if they want to come with me. I’m not just picking a random day and buying two tickets and hoping it works out.

Ali Blount: (Laughs)

Ally Duffey Cubilette: To Erik’s point about unlimited budgets, Google does have a feature where they will provide suggestions of how to optimize your campaign and the number one thing they tell you is spend more money (laughs).

Erik Gensler: (Laughs) Yeah, of course!

Ali Blount: Shocker!

Ally Duffey Cubilette: (Laughs) Right?

Erik Gensler: I want to move on to what we can do about this. So, I am putting myself in the shoes of someone listening to this podcast who may be a marketer at an arts organization. You may be an executive director or a managing director or someone else, a marketing assistant, whoever you are. Okay. So, all of this stuff is happening. How do I prepare myself? What can I do? What is your advice?

Ali Blount: From an organizational standpoint, my number one advice would be, invest so much more money in content creation, which is something we have always said. This is not a new message. We’ve always said that you need to spend a lot on content creation, but I think that the necessity for that has just skyrocketed with all of this. When you’re thinking about the fact that your ads might not be going to, necessarily, the smallest viable audience anymore because we might not be able to find those people quite as effectively, you need to think about what your content is and who’s seeing it and making sure that it is as engaging and eye-catching as humanly possible. So, I would say that we, more than ever, need to be thinking about content creation because the storytelling that we in the arts can do is going to really help us survive in these spaces.

Rachel Purcell: Especially if we’re thinking about things like using video remarketing audiences, people who watched a certain percentage of a video on Facebook, in lieu of people who visited a certain page on your website. You better hope that video content is really good.

Erik Gensler: Absolutely.

Becky Ludkiewicz: And, definitely, if we’re talking about collecting first-party data, that is data that you own, like email addresses, et cetera, focusing more on generating new leads and creating content to welcome those new leads into your family is going to be a great way to bolster first-party data targeting tactics, versus relying so much on limited retargeting.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: And that idea of content creation that Ali was talking about is what allows you to do that, Becky, right? Like, you need content of value. That’s what you create for your patrons, for your audience, that says, “This arts organization has fabulous content onstage and off and I want to hear about it all the time.” That’s how you earn that first-party data and that right to reach those people.

Becky Ludkiewicz: And I would also say from a measurement perspective, as we start to experience the impact of all of these changes, don’t panic. If your ROIs go down, as Ali mentioned earlier, you know, we are still very much in a pandemic. Our programs are shifting. So, there are so many different forces at play here that could be impacting your various key performance indicators. So, talk to your teams, maybe you have a team at CI that you can talk to, to ask about, “Are these the right key performance indicators? Should we be looking at new key performance indicators and maybe resetting our own internal benchmarks for this new landscape?”

Erik Gensler: Right. “What happened to my ROI?” Really making sure that you realize the whole calculation has evolved, so really need to reset expectations. And, like all of you say, it’s not like the behavior is necessarily changing, but how we can measure it.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: We’ve talked about Facebook a lot, and we’ve said this before, but I think it’s important to reiterate that you can’t just jump ship from one digital platform to another to solve for this change in measurement. This is impacting all platforms across the digital landscape—Pinterest, Spotify, Pandora, LinkedIn, any other app that you can think of that you might want to advertise on, including Google’s Display Network and Facebook’s Audience Network. All of these placements and channels are impacted by this. So, it’s the world that we live in and I think there’s a certain amount of acceptance and then, as we’ve said, shifting those expectations and benchmarks internally,

Becky Ludkiewicz: And one thing the Queens have been discussing amongst ourselves is what we think the impact might be, if any, across these various social platforms. Because, as you know, there have been various scandals, like the Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook and all of these things that are disrupting how users are perceiving and trusting these platforms. And I, for one, would be very curious to see exactly how users react to seeing this new prompt from Apple and if that means they’re going to start to look towards other apps and move away from Facebook. Are we going to see monthly active user numbers shift? I want to turn it to some of the other Queens to just sort of (laughs), well, you know, chime in here.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: (Laughs) Or does it make people trust Facebook more-

Becky Ludkiewicz: Maybe!

Ally Duffey Cubilette: … and feel more comfortable using it? And so, the usership of Facebook goes up … although we never saw it really go down after any of the scandals that have happened before. So, I don’t know why it will be this one. So, could go the other way.

Ali Blount: Yeah, you know my feelings on this, too. I feel like this is not going to change user behavior. I would be very surprised if it does. And, you know, if it does, if people go to another platform, great, we’ll follow them onto the other platform, whatever it’s going to be.

Erik Gensler: (Laughs)

Ali Blount: That platform would probably be Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, but-

Erik Gensler: (Laughs)

Ali Blount: … but I just don’t think that this is going to have that much of an impact. I mean, this is anecdotal, but thinking about, you know, my family or whoever who doesn’t work in marketing, I feel like they’re going to see it. They’re probably just going to half-read it, click “yes” or “no,” and then never, ever think about it again.

Rachel Purcell: Well, and I think … Not to talk down to the general average user of any of these apps, but there is also the fact that, even just in seeing that prompt that says, “Do you want to allow this app to track your data across other apps and sites?”—I’m simplifying that language, but that’s functionally what it will say—I don’t know that the average user, necessarily, even would recognize whether that notification is coming from Apple or from Facebook themselves. Some might see this as exactly, “Yes, wow. It’s great that Facebook has added this prompt,” totally unaware of the fact that Apple has forced Facebook to add that prompt. So, there is a little bit of that, as well, where we’re so in the weeds of all of this and really on top of who’s kind of directing which change and, to the average app user, they’re just not going to be that granular in their understanding. They don’t need to be.

Becky Ludkiewicz: Yeah. One of us Queens also did a poll internally at CI to see, when all these changes happen, who is going to opt in versus who is going to opt out, knowing that we are a collection of marketers and-

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Skewed sample! (Laughs)

Becky Ludkiewicz: Yeah, yeah (laughs)! Ali, do you remember what the results were of that?

Ali Blount: It was … Yeah, I did the poll. It was that the vast majority of people said that they were going to opt in. I think there were only like three or four people who said that they would opt out, which, you know, to be fair, very biased sample size, very small pool size.

Erik Gensler: (Laughs)

Ali Blount: But, personally, I mean, I will 100% be opting in. When we’re thinking about our experience on these platforms or anywhere in the world, I want personalized ads. You know, I’m a huge theater person. I want to see what all the different theaters around me are doing because I don’t have time to sit there and research all of their seasons and know exactly what programming they’re doing in what given month it’s happening. And I’m sure that’s realistic for most people, they don’t have that time. So, I want to see the ads that are relevant to me and I’m going to definitely opt in so that I can continue to have that experience, and hopefully many people will (laughs).

Rachel Purcell: And, moreover, I mean … Ali, put it in the positive sense of, “Here are the ads that I want to see.” I, personally, am like, “There are certain ads that I don’t want to see.”

Ali Blount: (Laughs)

Rachel Purcell: Nothing annoys me more than when I get served ads to buy a car. I am a 30-year-old New Yorker, like, lived in New York for seven years. I have absolutely no need for a car and I just don’t think that anybody doing really good targeting should be serving me ads for cars.

Becky Ludkiewicz: And I’m an Android user, so I don’t have to make this decision right now, but it could be only a matter of time (laughs).

Ali Blount: (Laughs)

Erik Gensler: (Laughs) Yeah, I mean, the thing that Apple is allowing in this pop-up window is, each app is going to be able to add customized language, as well. So, I think that’s going to be really interesting of, like, how can Facebook position this in a way to get more people to opt in? It’ll be interesting how each app thinks about that and how that … I’m sure they’re going to spend a lot of time figuring out what converts best in their favor (laughs).

Ally Duffey Cubilette: There will be many an A/B test.

Ali Blount: (Laughs)

Erik Gensler: (Laughs) Yeah.

Rachel Purcell: We should all start taking screenshots to compare the different prompt language.

Ali Blount: We actually definitely should.

Erik Gensler: Totally.

Ali Blount: One other thing that I feel like we’ve touched on, but I don’t know if it’s explicitly been said, is just, whoever is running campaigns, whether it’s you or an agency or whoever, one thing to just think about is switching the objective of your campaigns. I know we talked about lead campaigns, but there are also, you know, you can do an event response campaign or a video view objective campaign within Facebook that you could be, instead of just asking Facebook to drive conversions, that we can ask them to drive those other actions. So, I just wanted to make sure we say that out loud, as well, that that’s another shift that we can be making and probably will be making moving forward.

Erik Gensler: Absolutely. Well, this was an absolute delight talking to all of you about this. I think this, hopefully, will be really helpful to all of our listeners and we’ve come to the final question. And the final question, as you may know, is our “CI to Eye moment,” which is, if you could broadcast to the executive directors, leadership teams, staff, and board of thousands of arts organizations, what advice would you provide to them? And in the case of this, what would you provide to them in light of everything that we’ve been discussing?

Becky Ludkiewicz: So, iOS 14 is just one stepping stone on the path towards greater privacy. I believe that things will continue to evolve, but it’s ultimately a good thing that we are giving users a choice about how they experience advertising because it builds trust and opens the door for more personal, human interactions. And remember that it’s not just about counting conversions; it’s about creating community through content that people choose to consume themselves.

Rachel Purcell: This is Rachel. We’ve always known that no element of the marketing mix reaches a person in a vacuum and we’ve always trusted the efficacy of certain platforms like billboards, radio, and TV without ever having had really direct purchase attribution. So, until or unless we really start to see people leaving these digital platforms in droves, which we absolutely are not seeing, the digital platforms and all of these apps will still be really critical parts of the user and the buyer journey.

Ali Blount: This is Ali. This doesn’t change the fact that digital is still the best bet for measurable, data-driven, efficient marketing campaigns. There isn’t a “better” channel or platform out there that we can all shift to now, so the challenge moving forward is figuring out how to adapt these adjustments in the smartest way possible, just like marketers have always done as channels and audiences shift.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: So, we know that owning your own data as an organization is becoming increasingly important and the way that you earn the right to that data from patrons is by creating content that’s of value, both onstage and off. And I think this is really where arts organizations are set up to excel, apart from other organizations and other industries. This is a great moment to take a step back and think about how your organization is building those relationships with and between people through really stellar content.

Erik Gensler: The four of you are so impressive. Thank you so much for doing this.

Becky Ludkiewicz: Thanks, Erik.

Ally Duffey Cubilette: Thanks.

Rachel Purcell: Yes, thank you. Thanks for having us.

About Our Guests
Ali Blount
Ali Blount
Senior Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Ali Blount is a Senior Consultant of Digital Marketing at Capacity Interactive. She joined the CI team after working in marketing and management at Roundabout Theatre Company and the Huntington Theatre Company. She received a bachelor’s degree with honors in English from Harvard University, and then earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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Ally Duffey Cubilette
Ally Duffey Cubilette
Principal Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Ally Duffey Cubilette joined Capacity Interactive after receiving an M.B.A. with a concentration in arts administration from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the Wisconsin School of Business. Before that, she worked in marketing and fundraising for non-profit performing arts organizations, including the Cunningham Dance Foundation, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Pilobolus, and Overture Center for the Arts.

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Becky Ludkiewicz
Becky Ludkiewicz
Senior Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Becky Ludkiewicz is a Senior Consultant at CI. In her time at CI, she has collaborated with more than 70 clients spanning genres and budget sizes. She loves a good (or bad) pun!

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Rachel Purcell
Rachel Purcell
Senior Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Rachel Purcell is a Senior Consultant at CI. She serves as a Facebook Platform Specialist in addition to her client work. She is a bona fide theater kid who enjoys long walks with her pup.

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