Delivering More Personalized Content in an Increasingly Context First, Cookieless World

We are living in the relationship era and the cookieless future is less fear factor, more opportunity – a chance to reinsert value and personalization into relationships.

As marketing, advertising and content professionals, we’ve known for a while the inevitable fate of the cookie. For years, we have been working on solutions. Yet in reality, we have always known that context and content is the path forward. And it works.

We are living in the relationship era and the cookieless future is less fear factor, more opportunity – a chance to reinsert value and personalization into the brand-to-consumer relationship. It is a moment to empower brands to deliver organic value to people who want it; where and when and how they prefer to receive it. It is an opportunity to truly engage with consumers and build a mutually beneficial, loyal relationship.

As brands, we get yet another opportunity to build trust through value with our consumers. What will we do with it?

On May 25th, Nativo SVP of Sales Jordan Hyman sat down with industry veteran Ryan Benson, Sr. Director, Head of Brand Activation at Optum, for a fireside chat at Digital Ascendant event. Below, the two discuss how brands are delivering more personalized, valuable experiences to consumers rooted in context that will continue to pave the way for successful brand and audience building efforts even in a cookieless world.


So Jamie used the word storytelling. We use it a lot at Nativo. Big word. Obviously, it's been out there, also not new, but I'm curious in your world at Optum, what does it mean to you? How do you arrive at it? What's the thinking behind getting to a good story historically for you and sort of is there a strategy to coming up with good storytelling for you?


Super good first question and a big one, obviously. I think, like everything else in marketing in general, it comes down to objectives and that's really how we look at it. Optum is part of United Health Group, so giant healthcare company ensure business, of course. Optum providing healthcare services and innovation technology, emerging technology solutions to a variety of healthcare constituents. So lots of different objectives based on where you sit within the organization, of course. And I think with content and storytelling, it comes down to really understanding what those objectives are first, but also then taking it a step further and figuring it out. How is it being delivered? What vehicle is it showing up in somebody's life? And then it's really taking what's the next click down from there, but also, where does that content, where does that storytelling sit within the overall marketing funnel?

So if we're really trying to build brand awareness at the top of the funnel, what's that content and storytelling doing to complete that objective or is it more simply to engage to the point of building perception or an affinity for a brand, or is it even taking it a step further down the funnel of engaged to the point of consideration to buy? So I think really those are the key themes that we think about as we're strategizing our content and storytelling based on the audiences that we serve.


Okay, so good segue, the audiences you serve. So we were having dinner last night and we were talking about Optum's had a rich and successful run from a B2B perspective. And obviously, there's also all of us from a consumer perspective. Ryan used the napkin analogy as in hey, if I'm trying to sell this napkin to you and I've got one budget, you're either a B2B buyer or you're a consumer or you're both. How do I use limited budget to make that happen? So I'm curious, just wherever you guys are at this point in time, what's it been like to sort of try to take whatever's worked from a B2B perspective and either scrap it or use it or repurpose it from a consumer perspective?

And then similarly, how are you thinking about trying to kill two birds with one stone for lack of a better phrase? How are you trying to reach both audiences knowing that budgets are a challenge and then the creative piece, back to the cookie part, who am I at the end of the day? Am I buying you from a HSP perspective or am I buying you from a consumer perspective?


Yeah. Well, I think, I mean, our business probably isn't much different than other businesses, in terms of serving a multitude of constituents. And like you said, Jordan, we're fairly mature from a B2B perspective, so Optum sits, we consider ourselves sitting at the center of the healthcare system. So our partners are employers, life sciences organizations, it's government, it's payers and providers. And from a brand and corporate marketing perspective, all those folks, all those partners are also consumers of healthcare, so it doesn't matter if you're a Chief Medical Officer of a major health system, a CFO of a fortune 50 employer, or a mother of two kids. Taking the human side to our content and storytelling and simplifying it is really a key strategy for us and that's what is also exciting. And it's also a challenge. There's opportunity to do that at the top of the funnel, like I said, but then at the same time, really getting ingrained into a specific audience or a specific consumer and building content around them is just as key. And that's all about personalization and understanding who that persona is.


You were talking a minute ago about the funnel and storytelling for different parts of the funnel for different people. So the proverbial KPIs question, how do we know if what the heck we're doing is actually working? ...There's a lot of ways to get at whether it's working. Curious, again, as you think about from top funnel all the way down, what are you using to measure? What sort of data or tactics and how are you then sort of saying to the people you work with and report to yeah, it's working or it's not, or we're not sure?


Yeah. I think we take the, I guess, the cliche traditional route, for sure, on the surface. I mean, we're looking at time spent or video starts and stops or engagement rates and things like that or if it's the content's living on dot com, is there a bounce rate attributed there? But I think there's been an evolution to really understand what's the halo attribution model that starts to understand how the consumer actually got to that content in the first place, but then also doing another couple clicks down to seeing what they're doing after they engage with that content.

So anecdote, I have a second grade son at home. He's just finishing second grade. And he came home a couple weeks ago, actually, with some homework that I couldn't believe it was second grade doing this, but he had to distinguish the difference between cause and effect. Super great exercise and he actually really enjoyed it. It was really challenging for him, but it dawned on me while I was helping him with that homework. It's like, this is great because this is actually what I do. This is what we all do. We try and figure out what the cause and effect is for the investments that we make in marketing and it really was no different. It not only applies to marketing, it just sort of applies to life.

I'm a big sports guy and we've got some major league baseball and NHL folks here I know. 20,000 Ranger fans last night are screaming. Well, why did it happen? Well, because they scored. And what was the next thing? Well, they actually won. The series is tied. So again, no different, but I think again, what's super exciting is that the ability to be able to dive deeper from those sort of surfacy KPIs. I mentioned initially, that's the story that we want to tell internally to try and optimize and build off the content we already have.

For more from Jordan and Ryan, check out their full fireside chat below.

Watch the Full Fireside Chat Here


Jordan Hyman is SVP, Ad Sales at Nativo, the global leader in native storytelling at scale. He is a 23-year veteran of the advertising and marketing industry, having built and run multimillion dollar branded content divisions at NBC Universal, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Time Inc (focused on Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money). A 1999 Penn State grad (journalism major) and published author (of two Penn State football books), he lives in Mountainside, NJ, with his wife, three children and dog.

Ryan Benson is a Senior Marketing and Advertising Executive with 20 years of experience orchestrating fully-integrated solutions that produce exceptional outcomes. Inspired by strategy, innovation, growth and authenticity.


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