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Insights from the 2020 FutureX Summit: What Marketers Should Take Away

Posted by Lauren Cohen on May 18, 2020

Brands that succeed will be those that align with consumers on shared values and cultivate trust.

Today, consumer trust is at an all-time low, and brands must navigate how to earn the trust of skeptical consumers. 

“All brands are caught in this new spectrum, a world between incredible mistrust and skepticism, and corporate purpose,” author and marketing consultant, Katie Martell, said. These days, it’s the most trusted brands that tend to win.  

In her keynote, “Pandering to the Pandemic,” Katie acknowledged that the current global crisis has given marketers an opportunity to rebuild trust, or conversely, further drive buyer skepticism.


She warned that we are getting dangerously close to a new normal of marketing, which she’s tokened as pandermonium. When brands are all talk and no action; when they piggy-back off social movements but fail to live up to the ideals. 

It’s important to note that not ALL brands are doing this in the age of COVID-19. Katie shared great examples of how brands like Formlabs, Microsoft, and Atlassian are raising the bar with mission-driven, value-add pivots. 

Another brand leading with purpose is the popular Boston-based shoe company, Converse. 

“We see this remarkable moment where everything is reset, and you have the opportunity to really show up for the world and to create value and serve the communities we want to be connected with,” Jesse Stollak, Chief Marketing Officer of Converse, said during his opening keynote. At Converse, “we call it CTRL ALT DELETE – the reset button that the world’s been hit with.” 

During the pandemic, Converse launched a campaign called Create At Home, which harnessed the energy of their community to celebrate creativity while people are at home. They embraced the idea that "creativity can’t be quarantined” and thought long and hard about how their marketing could provide value for their community, said Jesse. 

“We believe our role as a brand is to help, and how do we make sure we are helping, thinking about their needs, understanding their needs in this moment? How do we take our mission and bring it to life, in the world, in this context?” - Jesse Stollak

Both Jesse and Katie emphasized the need for brands to serve their communities, especially at this time. Marketers should be asking themselves what the value and delivery of their brand is—is it serving as a force for good? — and whether they are delivering on the promise that their words carry.


No one is sure how the death of the third-party cookie will play out, but it's progress for the industry.  

For those who aren’t familiar – back in February, Google announced that it would phase out support for the third-party cookie in its Chrome browser.  

What’s the significance? Many businesses use it to monitor user behavior and gather data on their marketing activities. However, many see the third-party cookie as an invasion of privacy, since it recognizes users across various websites in order to provide unique experiences and send them relevant content. 

We brought together a panel—including Greg Campbell, Associate Director, Programmatic at GroupeConnect agency, Tori Shulman, Senior Marketing Manager, Paid Media at Zipcar, and moderator Jacob Beck, Associate Director, Programmatic at Merkle | DWA—to discuss how they anticipate advertising will change in a cookie-less world. 

While acknowledging that the end of the cookie will certainly cause some headaches and necessitate lots of collaboration across the industry, the panelists are optimistic that these changes will be good in the long run.

"Ultimately, data privacy is at the core of these changes and this evolution, so what I think we all hope to see is that not all of this change is negative...Hopefully it will serve as a catalyst for positive changes across the industry.” - Greg Campbell.

He also noted that first-party data has always been and will continue to be the most valuable for marketers, and that isn’t going anywhere. So publishers that have robust first-party data sets will be relied on by advertisers more and more. It’s going to be the businesses and publishers who don’t have a strong logged-in user base that hurt the most. 

 “I feel that the industry has gotten really complacent working off of cookies – which were invented in the 90s by Netscape,” Tori Shulman said. “I’m hoping that the solution is something that is cleaner, more stream-lined, and puts consumer privacy at the forefront.”  

Tori and Greg agreed that there will likely be an uptick on the use of channels that don’t rely on cookies, like CTT and OTT, and the most significant disruption will likely be to measurement and attribution efforts.  

For brands looking to their agency to help them get through this transition, Tori suggests they ask them for the agency’s point of view in what solutions they might have already; what percent of the current media spend is relying on third-party cookies; and if they are keeping a pulse on replacement solutions.  

On the agency side, Greg emphasized that agencies are looking for their partners to be as transparent as possible with them and share how involved the company is working with a broader industry approach.  

The biggest takeaway from the conversation is that the best way forward will be an ongoing conversation and growing dialogue, as Google still holds the cards in the “privacy sandbox”. In an ideal scenario, an industry-wide common identifier would be agreed upon. 

What do you think the future holds? Tweet us @MITX with your predictions!


COVID-19 has accelerated recent digital marketing trends 

It’s no surprise that the hunger for digital content has been steadily on the rise, and the current ecosystem has only bolstered that. During the “How Digital Marketing Will Change Post COVID-19?" panel, experts shared examples of how businesses are already shifting how they’re reaching and engaging with consumers, and how these changes will likely persist.  

“We’ve constantly been telling our clients that artists creating their own content and user-generated stuff tends to perform best on social already. The situation we’ve found ourselves in now has helped accelerate some things for the better,” said Jason Carrasco, VP, Media at Gupta Media, who works with many music artists.  

Social distancing measures and the resulting sports standstill has also forced the NFL to think creatively and show another side of the players as they create engaging content from their homes. 

“It’s been a unique situation for us...and we’ve had to be careful about our tone and messaging.” said Dave Bolger, VP, Consumer Media, at the National Football League.

“We recognized early on that while we need to be mindful of what’s going on, there are folks in need of a distraction.”  

To maintain engagement with their audiences, brands and marketers now must grapple with ways to leverage user-generated content from people’s homes or re-use content that feeds off people’s nostalgia for shared memories and experiences. One of Gupta Media’s clients, Boston Calling (a music festival originally scheduled for the end of May), is going to start doing a retrospective from past festivals, Jason shared.  

Another big trend emerging is the shift to using more data and having more informed campaigns, said Mike Flanagan, Director of Advanced Platform Solutions at Effectv (formerly Comcast Spotlight). “Marketers are going to have to be more efficient after this since everyone’s taking an economic hit.”  

One thing that is still as important as ever to brand marketers, is a customer’s experience. “No matter what happens, any interaction with a brand has an impact on loyalty,” said Dave. Ultimately, “those brands that have been able to pivot in a seamless way are going to win.”  

If you attended the summit and would like to contribute your thoughts as a blog for us, email us here. If you’re interested in attending future MITX events, head to mitx.org to see what’s on the horizon.