Despite supply chain issues, your digital marketing strategy should still include advertising

January 18, 2022 | 5 minute read
Mollie Spilman
Chief Revenue Officer, Oracle Advertising and CX – Advertising and Marketing
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revamp ad spend to provide more valueIt’s no secret that consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the ongoing supply chain issues. As a result, many marketers are rethinking their digital marketing strategy and slashing advertising spend. But there’s an inherent danger to cutting ad spend during a crisis. Despite the current supply chain disruptions, here’s why brands should avoid cutting back on right now.

A recent Oracle study found that 92% of consumers believe more disruptions are coming, 66% are scared that they will never end, while 80% say delays and shortages could cause them to cut ties with favorite brands. As a result, many marketers are slashing their advertising spending for fear of being unable to fulfill the promise of an advertising message. However, there is an inherent danger in reducing your spend, for as one industry leader put it, “Pulling media spend will only result in share and awareness erosion.”

This is all on top of the fact that many brands severely cut back on their ad spending during the height of the pandemic. Case in point, Coca-Cola. During a Q2 Earnings Call in July 2020, CEO James Quincey asked aloud, presumably rhetorically, “Why would I want to spend money in a period if I can’t get the return, particularly if there’s a strong lockdown?” adding that they (Coca-Cola) believed “no marketing is going to make much difference in the second quarter, so we pulled back heavily.”

On the flip side, there were brands like P&G and PepsiCo, that increased the amount they were spending on advertising and marketing. By the end of 2020, P&G and PepsiCo saw an increase in net revenue of 4% and 5%, respectively, compared to Coca-Cola, which saw a reduction in net revenues of 11% for 2020.

Start with the why 

The obvious two questions to ask are: why and how?

Why should brands not only NOT cut ad spending but increase it, and exactly how is the best way to go about this?

To quote Simon Sinek, let’s start with the why — why keep advertising and even increase the amount a brand spends on advertising?

The first reason goes back to the decision by Google to block third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. While Google delayed the move from 2022 to late 2023, the fact remains they will, at some point, take this action, thereby significantly impacting advertisers’ ability to reach new consumers in the same way they have before.

So, smart digital marketers will take full advantage of the time left before Google “flips the switch” and increase the amount of first-party data they capture, with a clear value exchange for the consumer. But even before the eventual Google third-party cookie deprecation, brands need to create more explicit value exchanges with their audiences to survive and thrive in today’s world.

Consumer expectations are at an all-time high and will only increase. They expect brands to ‘know’ them; to know their likes, dislikes, preferences and so on. The best way to truly ‘know’ your customer is to capture first-party data. And one way to do this is by, you guessed it, reaching more prospective customers through advertising and offering them something of value to create that relationship.

An example of this is Heinz. This past Halloween, the brand turned its signature product, Ketchup, into a relationship-building, data-generating tool when it packaged it under the guise of fake blood. They created an ecommerce microsite where they offered consumers the chance to buy merchandise such as Tomato Blood costume kits, masks, and other outfits appropriately themed around Halloween, such as mummies and pirates.

And now for the how

So now you know why brands need to keep advertising and even up their ad spend. Now comes the how.

The easy answer is to go spend more money on advertising! Of course, it’s not quite that easy, for as John Wanamaker once famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

I was reminded of that quote while reading a fantastic article entitled The errors of efficiency. In the piece, the author astutely points out the misconception many advertisers have regarding paid social media and online video. Because these formats can be targeted to reach defined audiences while providing a measurable response, there is a perception they deliver the best ROI.

However, there are more nuanced strategies that need to be considered when determining the ROI of a campaign. For example, different media drive different levels of attention and engagement and incremental reach. There is also the social capital that some media can drive. As the article mentioned above adds quite succinctly, “Traditional broadcast communications not only reach a large audience, but they also reach that audience publicly. In mass media, not only do many people see your advert, but they see many other people see your advert as well,” which can make some items more covetable.

The lesson is how you allocate your media should be driven by your objectives for both brand and demand, the ability of each to drive the right engagement, and how they add reach instead of over-saturation.

Aside from increasing their ad spend, savvy digital marketers are also looking for other ways to collect first-party data. That’s why, as a recent Marketing Brew piece put it, “brands like Cheez-It, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Panera are suddenly selling swag; and why brands ranging from McDonald’s to Taco Bell are investing in loyalty programs.” This all goes back to something I said earlier; brands need to create more value exchange with their audience, whether existing or prospects.

Final thoughts 

Regardless of short-term or long, the fact remains now is not the time to revamp your digital marketing strategy to include cuts to your advertising spend. It is simply not worth the “share and awareness erosion” your brand will surely encounter if you go down the path of least resistance.


How are you adapting your marketing strategies to surmount the challenges of the pandemic and its associated supply chain issues?

Learn more about creating a strategy that includes the right digital marketing mix.

Adapted from a post originally published in TOOLBOX.

Mollie Spilman

Chief Revenue Officer, Oracle Advertising and CX – Advertising and Marketing

Mollie Spilman is a 20-plus-year media veteran whose prior gigs include roles at Criteo,, and Yahoo!. Passionate about inclusion and diversifying the ranks of business, she has extensive experience developing, scaling, and leading direct sales teams to over 1200+ employees and a proven ability to manage complex deals, increase revenue, and grow existing business while building a culture of innovation through people development that empowers employees. In her spare time, Mollie loves sport fishing, playing golf, running, listening to country or classic rock and enjoying a glass of her favorite California chardonnay.

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