There was a time in the recent past when anytime Jon Halvorson, Mondelez’s global VP of consumer experience, wanted access to his brand’s own first-party data, the request would trigger a prolonged, nearly farcical chain of events.
First, Halvorson would have to email his Google rep. Then his Google rep would email Mondelez’s agency. Then the agency would have to get approval from Mondelez to release the data.
It was like a scene out of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.”
“Whenever I wanted data for literally anything I had to go through that process, and that’s because we had ownership over our data but, technically, we didn’t have control over it,” Halvorson said. “Anyway, it was an absolute mess.”
On top of that, Mondelez had multiple agencies managing its DoubleClick integrations and no standard framework in place to help with analysis and attribution.
Out of frustration – and at around 5 a.m. one morning back in 2017 – Halvorson reached out to MightyHive on Google’s recommendation. He found a “contact us” email on MightyHive’s website and fired off a message.
“They didn’t know if it was legit at first, until they looked me up and discovered that I was a real person,” Halvorson said.
After a meeting with Pete Kim, MightyHive’s CEO and founder, Halvorson signed on with MightyHive and they got down to the thorny business of developing a common taxonomy for Mondelez’s data.
One of the main challenges for a global brand is that it needs multiple DoubleClick Campaign Manager seats in different markets so as to avoid regulatory challenges. “You can’t combine other data with European data, for example,” Halvorson said, “so you can’t just put everything under one DCM seat.”
Over the subsequent nearly nine months, Mondelez worked with MightyHive to build a taxonomy to govern every media placement across $500 million in digital ad spend.
“We had to map all of the brands in the Mondelez portfolio, decide on the parent/child relationships, define and identify every region and figure out all of the qualifiers and data points to include – it was a really big build,” Halvorson said.
Mondelez was eventually able to implement this structure as part of the regular workflow it uses with its media agencies, and MightyHive regularly runs a DCM audit to validate that the taxonomy is in place and being used, whether that’s by a media planner in New York or an ad trafficker based in the Philippines.
Since 2017, Mondelez’s global ROI is up roughly 70% driven primarily, Halvorson said, by its more systematic approach to digital and data. “We’re just better digital buyers now,” he said.
But a heavily data science-driven approach like this still isn’t the norm among many marketers, who keep their agencies busy with the day-to-day tasks of creative production and media buying “without taking the time to have a bird’s-eye view of how everything interoperates,” said Tyler Pietz, EVP of the global data practice at MightyHive.
The inclination to focus on short-term wins is also at least partially related to the average tenure of CMOs, which doesn’t usually last longer than three years.
“There often isn’t the incentive to build these capabilities, because marketers know they’re not going to be around to reap the rewards and a lot of this type of work impacts the latter years of a strat plan,” Halvorson said.
That makes them less inclined to do the dirty work.
“Look, any marketer that wants to get great at this will need to eat shit for 19 months, there’s no other way to put it,” Halvorson said. “You need to take the time, do the work and be in the trenches.”
But once the foundation is built, brands – especially CPG brands that historically don’t have a direct relationship with their customers – can start to get more sophisticated in the way they use data.
Mondelez, for example, has a workstream set up via MightyHive to facilitate clean room data sharing with retailers. Halvorson and his team were working on the bones of that project before retail media networks started coming out of the woodwork.
“Now, we’re in a good spot, because everyone from Tesco’s to Sainsbury’s wants to talk about data and personalization,” Halvorson said. “If your data is clean, scaled and in the right environment, then you can do the analytics that you want to do.”
More recently, Mondelez started focusing its attention on building a more solid first-party data strategy, which is key considering the fate awaiting third-party cookies in Chrome – even though the deadline’s been pushed back to 2023.
“We might not be as far along as a Nestle, for example, and they have a much bigger DTC business than us, but I’d argue that we have the tools to be more intentional about what we’re doing,” Halvorson said. “We’ve built a robust infrastructure for ourselves, and now it’s a matter of us taking it out for a spin.”