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How to Achieve ROI Growth with Personalization at Scale: Lessons from Mondelez

In advertising, it’s common to hear the phrase, “People don’t hate ads. They hate bad ads.” While it’s easy to write that off as industry talk (or even wishful thinking), research shows that people are more receptive to relevant, personalized ads. A recent study even found that 70% of companies using advanced personalization have already earned 200% ROI or more as a result.

At ADMERICA 2021, our CMO Stephanie Geno sat down with Jonathan Halvorson, Global Vice President of Consumer Experience at Mondelez, to discuss Mondelez’s vision to expand on their baseline connection with consumers, using personalization at scale. 

The CPG giant’s mission of bringing its brands’ personalities into personalization has resulted in year-over-year ROI growth and has separated Mondelez from counterparts who are still relying on mass marketing. What were the key factors that led to their success, aside from an unwavering focus on personalization? Let’s take a closer look:

Challenge the personalization status quo 

The common philosophy is that personalization doesn’t work in CPG — because of the portfolio, the scale, the complexity of the business. Ultimately, too many believe that you just can’t get a return on a $3 box of cookies. Knowing that they had a vision for where they wanted to take their marketing efforts yet unable to find inspiration within their own industry, Mondelez looked elsewhere: to Airbnb, to Amazon, to whoever was winning the personalization game. They refused to believe that personalization wouldn’t work in CPG.

“We reject the notion that producing one message and sharing it to as many people as cheaply as possible is the best way to grow.” - Jonathan Halvorson, Global Vice President of Consumer Experience, Mondelez

Don’t lose sight of the big idea

When Mondelez first began its personalization journey, Jonathan admitted to placing data, segmentation, and technology too far ahead in the planning process. After the first few iterations, it became clear to the team that they needed to reorganize and start with the big idea, one that was based on human truths. Once you have that, then data and insights can be brought in to unlock empathy, and technology can be brought in to target and scale your efforts. 

“If you look at our early personalization work, it didn’t have the brand personalities. When you put segmentation too far up front, you get very fractured creative. It almost looks like a series of Getty Image shoots.”

Work with real partners who understand your goals and share your values.

Personalization at scale isn’t easy, but it’s well-within reach 

It takes a village to bring an initiative like personalization at scale (now empathy at scale) to life, and you need to ensure that your village consists of the right agency and technology partners. Beyond their stated capabilities, you need to make sure there’s a cultural fit; otherwise, you’ll never have a true partnership, just a scaled business relationship at best. What’s more, it’s crucial to find partners who believe in your vision — even if it sounds a little crazy at first. If you work with partners who really understand where you want to go and know what your hopes and dreams are, then they’ll be much more likely to help you get there.

“Ultimately, we have set goals that are not achievable today. We have set goals for where we want to go in personalization that the current technology and landscape make fundamentally impossible. But you have to dream with me.”

Learn more about how Innovid can help you realize your personalization dreams, meet the team, or contact our team.