R3's Penelope Siraj on the 'Great Resignation', Consent Management, and Brand Entertainment

On this week’s episode of TheMadTech Podcast, Penelope Siraj, principal consultant at R3, joins ExchangeWire’s Mat Broughton and Lindsay Rowntree to discuss the latest news in media, marketing, and commerce.

This week, they cover:


– A record number of US workers have quit their jobs over the past four months in what many are dubbing the ‘Great Resignation’. The phenomenon has not bypassed the marketing industry, with research from earlier this year finding that nearly half of the 25,000 marketing professionals surveyed planned to leave their jobs in the immediate future.

Whilst this mass exodus may be attributable in part to a backlog of resignations caused by the pandemic, it can also be put down to a change in the way people view work. The past 18 months has seen greater numbers of the workforce put flexibility first as many had to adapt to homeschooling and other disruptions created by lockdown. Marketers are better equipped to quit their day jobs because they can leverage their skills across both the freelance and creator economies - and they can often earn far more by leaning into these spaces full-time.

This shift is not only purging companies of their top-tier marketing talent, but also making it increasingly expensive to find suitable replacements, with some social media marketers reportedly commanding salaries of USD $250,000 (£183,857). As such, many companies have turned to freelancers to achieve their marketing aims, an option which is not only more cost-effective and less risky, but which also helps these firms to become more flexible and agile. Therefore, argues Chris Toy, companies should embrace freelancers and incorporate them into their strategy to create a hybrid marketing model.


– IAB Europe are clamping down on consent management services providers for employing cookie pop-ups that allegedly mislead users into sharing more information. The industry body have sent letters to around 10 such companies over the past 6 months warning them that they were in breach of their Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), a voluntary industry-wide set of data tracking standards introduced by the IAB in 2018.

Designed to help companies comply with Europe’s GDPR, the TCF stipulates that consent management platforms present cookie notices to website visitors in accordance with the legislation. This means that so-called ‘dark patterns’ - techniques such as obscuring the option to reject tracking or making the option to accept more prominent - are prohibited, with IAB Europe legal director for privacy Filip Sedefov saying that the organisation can ‘sanction’ those who use them. Mr Sedefov revealed that the body have temporarily suspended “one or two” consent management firms for violating the IAB Europe’s user interface guidelines, although these bans will be lifted once these violations are resolved.

The move coincides with wider discussions surrounding current data collection methods and whether they constitute obtaining ‘meaningful consent’ from consumers. After meeting early last month, representatives from the G7 concluded that common tactics used in cookie pop-ups are too opaque and do not give web visitors sufficient control over their tracking and data preferences.


– Product placement has long been a feature of films and TV shows, but brands’ must look beyond this if they want to reach audiences effectively through these mediums, writes Sunshine chief creative officer Ed Warren. The relationship between marketers and the entertainment industry has already evolved, with many brands partnering with filmmakers and studios to produce relevant (or even brand-specific) long-form video content (like Unilever and Dove’s “Dads” documentary and The Savage x Fenty Show). 

This change requires marketers to take a more creative approach to the medium, Warren writes. To do this, marketers must view entertainment as a “product category” rather than a marketing channel, investing more in developing the content and the storytelling aspects than in traditional (and often jarring) product placements. Brands can (and have) done this successfully by establishing themselves as a natural part of the film’s universe or, even, as in the case of the Lego Movie, its very foundation.

Film and TV have audiences in abundance, and brands must gain a solid understanding of who these audiences are and what they want to hear if they want to reach them in a meaningful and respectful way. Shelving distracting product placements in favour of developing engaging and, overall, entertaining content, shows that brands want to give their audience a valuable experience, and don’t see them simply as potential customers.