Moitree Rahman, Director, Data Activation and Measurement Strategy at Colgate-Palmolive, discusses the efficacy of new measurement tools, the challenges of dealing with a fragmented digital landscape and how her center of acceleration is looking to the future for Colgate-Palmolive.

Read the full report 'Next wave measurement: Marketing mix modelling in the age of retail media' here.

What does your role look like at Colgate?

I’m part of the global digital organization for Colgate, which is a central team that works with all the markets around the world as the company’s center of acceleration for Colgate’s digital transformation. My role specifically, is to advance the measurement capabilities of our company. That entails developing measurement structures, roadmap, and tech capabilities that will allow us to map the success of our digital initiative, brand growth, as well as campaign performance.

How do you evaluate effectiveness in assessing marketing investment, in terms of the most important KPIs for your brands?

Measuring the success of our investment is super important because we want to ensure that we know what's working and what's not. This is especially true in terms of driving consumer engagement and business results. There is also the question of how do we intelligently optimize our budgets to a higher-performing channel or avenue. It's not a silver bullet, but we look at it from many angles.

We want clear visibility into our short- and long-term results, and that happens at a few different levels. For example, from the brand level we want to know if we’re appearing top of mind for consumers in our category. Or making sure that we provide the optimal consumer experience  across  different touchpoints, whether online or in-store. Another important level is campaign performance, by keeping an eye on all the different activation required or launched throughout the year. We are asking: ‘How is it resonating with our consumers? How can we optimize it?’ I'm encouraging our company to look at our performance comprehensively – beyond just one KPI, we want to make every KPI a part of a bigger story.

The last few years saw big shifts taking place – fragmenting media landscape, pandemic accelerating omnichannel shopping, etc. Which shifts are having the most major impact?

The way consumers interact with brands or make a purchase has dramatically shifted. CPG brands are available in every convenience store and super shop. But COVID has changed two priorities for people: safety and convenience. And when they combined the two, online shopping was the best medium for them, whether it was to buy an everyday product like toothpaste or a premium product like cat food. People got more comfortable shopping online safely.

But one factor that added some competition was the number of players in the online marketplace. Last milers like Instacart gained more prominence because they offered convenience. Besides, people were less price sensitive at that moment because they wanted to stay indoors and not deal with any kind of social interaction without disrupting their daily life. So, the last milers became big disruptors.

In terms of media fragmentation, the retail media started gaining prominence. The Walmarts, Instacarts, Targets of the world, who are able to directly interact with consumers, have now become a media vehicle for brands. As brands, our retail customers are now our media partners. So we’ll have to reimagine our business plans as they play a dual role for our business. The challenge lies in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness with so much more fragmentation within the space of how we reach our consumers. Those are good challenges to have, and they’re keeping us on our toes. So from a measurement perspective, I’m looking at how we get effective reach across all these channels, in addition to a seamless experience for our customers.

The fast-evolving digital space is bringing the arrival of ATT and the death of the cookie, which have huge implications. How does that affect you and your role?

We definitely appreciate the privacy concern for consumers. I think these disruptions have challenged precision targeting and measurement at the same time. However, I think it is also forcing brands to innovate ourselves in a way that we did not before. We’re now thinking, ‘How do we create a value exchange with our consumers? How can we gain more trust with them? How can we enrich their experience with our brands?’

Consumers will voluntarily share their preferences as brands earn their trust and that can be done  in a more privacy-friendly way. We're focusing more on having one-to-one interactions with our consumers as opposed to third-party cookies. Working with cookies was good when we didn’t have an alternative, but there was always a risk of not being credible. With that going away, and ATT getting enforced, I think that it is letting brands be more innovative in the way we want to reach our consumers. It’s also bringing tech partners and brands together to work in a more collaborative way on developing a better measurement solution. We are looking into some of our Partner’s probabilistic models but also thinking about how we can derive more meaningful insights by connecting it to our 1P consumer data.

Brands are actively taking part in the discussion along with our agency thought leaders and internal analytics teams – we are all part of the discussion. Together, we are developing a strategy. So it’s not a one-sided conversation, all the parties are coming together to think of better solutions in the wake of third party cookie deprecation.

What role does marketing mix modelling (MMM) play in today's measurement plans? And what challenges does it overcome?

MMMs are an important part of our measurement toolkit. Privacy has been taking center stage for the past few years. Individual-level data was causing a lot of concern across the industry, and rightfully so. MMMs are designed for aggregated level data, so brands like ours don't need to manage individual data, but we still want to know the performance in totality.

We're encouraging more of our brands to start looking at MMM data because there is a lot of value in knowing if a certain channel investment is really working or not. But I would caution that MMM should not be the only tool in our toolkit. There are other tools out there and they should be used based on the question we are trying to answer. We have to start with the business question and then look for the right tool to answer it. As a measurement specialist, my job is to help our team look at the objective and find the right solution.

What is the value that you get from MMM versus the pain points around it?

MMM is not the end solution. However, it throws light on the range of investments we’ve made, the optimisation opportunities within a certain touchpoint or channel or investment. It can give great insight into how our TV and digital investments are performing. MMM is really helping us look at the next level, and both macro and micro channels in each category. We can pinpoint where things aren’t working and which levers we need to pull to optimize them in campaign, in flight, or in scenario planning.

In terms of pain points, I’d look to digital. Digital is very different from traditional channels. You cannot compare Tiktok with YouTube – they’re different. Digital is vast and fragmented, and it needs a lot more granular data than we usually get from MMM. In certain areas, brands would benefit from more real-time optimisation. Our partners are working toward making MMM more compatible with the velocity and variety of digital data and how digital works, so I’m looking forward to that.

You're encouraging your marketers to include MMM in their toolkits. Who uses those insights in your organization, and how do you report those findings across the business?

It has benefits for everybody. But it depends on which team is making what kind of decision. From a global level, I'd be more interested in a high level of understanding of how different channels are performing. But a specific brand team will be interested in channel-level optimization opportunities, asking “what were the variables that played a role in the performance increasing or decreasing?”. At the senior level, they want to understand whether all the investment my team is making behind my brand's growth over the years is working or not, and supporting those teams in budget allocations. So, MMM isn’t confined to just practitioners making the tactical decisions, but also the leaders observing how their teams, markets, and brands are performing at a macro level. At all levels, there’s a lot of utility for MMM. It also helps us refine planning for the next year.

What would you say is the main challenge that marketers need to overcome?

I think data transparency is a key challenge. As brand marketers we would like to have transparency and ensure data privacy despite so much fragmentation and so many different players present. There is no common currency because every digital platform is differently designed, but data transparency is going to be key. Another key factor is having a measurement partner that is agnostic to a certain platform or channel who isn’t limited by digital-only, or TV-only for example.

There is a huge revolution going on. In the future, I see a wider path across the whole marketing industry having a more interoperable currency that ensures data transparency and accurate reporting. These independent third parties come together with the brands and develop what is the measurement guideline for the future that we need to have that will become standard across these fragmentations. It should give more visibility into the performance of our investment. That’s going to be the key.