Podcast – Deterministic Data

Fine Point Grey Evan Barocas

Podcast – Deterministic Data

(25-minute video)

Maureen Jann, Director of Digital Marketing speaks to the digital marketing headlines. Evan Barocas, Director of Display and Programmatic Ad Buying talks about deterministic data and the programmatic industry.

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Featured Experts:

Evan Barocas, Former Director of Display & Programmatic Advertising

Guests and Experts

EXPERT: Evan Barocas, Former Director of Display & Programmatic Advertising, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Driven to execute effective and efficient campaigns, Evan manages the strategy, planning, implementation and optimization of display campaigns at Point It. Drawing on eight years of experience in national politics, Evan applies his strong analytical instincts and deep knowledge of media planning and optimization to his client’s success.

HOST: Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.

Transcript

Maureen: Hey, everybody. Welcome to our first production of Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week, we are featuring an industry expert, and potential industry guests, to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the director of marketing at Point It Digital Marketing, here in Seattle. I’ll be your host. I expect we’ll have a lot of fun together.

 

Today, we’ll be running through a few headlines we’ve seen in the news, and I’ll be introducing you to Evan Barocas our director of display, and programmatic advertising. Evan, and I will be talking to deterministic data on the heels of his recent media post article. Welcome, Evan.

 

Evan: Thank you. I’m excited to talk about it.

 

Maureen: Yeah.
Evan: You had a mini fist pump, right there, when you said we were going to have a lot of fun, together, I think we are.

 

Maureen: That’s fantastic. I know we always sit ten feet away from each other, but I feel like we just don’t bond enough.

 

Evan: Yeah. I feel that we bond, plenty. I think we are bonding. We bond, plenty.

 

Maureen: We’ll bond over some deterministic data in just a few minutes.

 

Evan: Oh. My God. The best data.

 

Maureen: Okay. Let’s talk headlines. First, my network is talking about, I’d love to tell you about them, and what my network is talking about in specifics, however, I was unable to get any of the headlines that I was looking for due to the Shockwave Flash plugins, so I’ve shifted gears, and we are going to talk about that instead.

 

Evan: Great.

 

Maureen: Thanks so much Chrome, for killing off the Shockwave Flash plugin.

 

Evan: It was the worst.

 

Maureen: It seems like we’ve had a long time to deal with this, yet …

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: Even, today, I’m trying to go get content for this conversation we are having, and I’m still struggling for it. Lot’s of fun for those of us that kind read things on search engine land, TechCrunch, PC advisor, via Chrome.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: Yeah. I’m sure this is impacting content consumption and overall traffic to the sites. That cannot be going well.

 

Evan: Yeah. It’s a giant pain, especially when we look at the majority of ad units up and in to this point were made in Flash. Redoing all the creative assets in HTML5, which is now the new preferred medium for standard banner ad units for rich media assets has been wonderful. I mean wonderful, in the worst, as soon as possible.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: It’s just been bang your head against the wall. Awful. The roll out could have been a lot smoother. I get why it’s all happening.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: It’s just one of those things in digital marketing that I don’t think that if you don’t work in digital marketing you don’t really know how hard you want to hit your head against your own desk when this is happening.

 

Maureen: Yes. It’s definition head desk, for sure.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: Like I said, I was going to talk about AMP, because that’s been a real hot topic, lately, but I couldn’t get on the site and read the article due to the Shockwave Flash plugin crashing. Not super fantastic.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: The next thing I found that was really popular, I use Nuzzel to do a lot of research, I love Nuzzel it’s this really great aggregator that looks at what your network is sharing on Twitter, and then what your friends of friends are talking about on Twitter, which is kind of interesting.

 

Evan: There you go.

 

Maureen: Shawn, our director of SEO, nerds out about it all the time, and it was part of our SEO in content marketing webinar that we did recently.

 

Evan: I was going to make an SEO, and nerd joke …

 

Maureen: Yeah.

 

Evan: I don’t need to.

 

Maureen: No. Good to go. The next thing I was discovering was Facebook at Work is launching next month via TechCrunch. I’m thinking this is the answer to Slack, you know, this is the alternative to Slack, what’s interesting is they are doing a per monthly active user charge, but considering they monetize everything, if they’re smart about it, they’re monetizing everything. I’m curious what the paid ad options are going to look like on the work platform.

 

Evan: Yeah. I just wonder how many different mediums, and how many different ways I’m going to be able to consume cat names, and gifts. It’s just like this …

 

Maureen: Don’t forget about Burning Man pictures.

 

Evan: Yeah, and Burning Man pictures. It’s like Facebook at work, great, now I can get a via text in …

 

Maureen: Slack.

 

Evan: Slack.

 

Maureen: Facebook at Work.

 

Evan: Facebook at Work.

 

Maureen: Twitter.

 

Evan: My beeper still works.

 

Maureen: Yeah. Your beeper? That’s exciting.

 

Evan: No. I don’t have a beeper. I have friends who have beepers, though. They’re special people. They actually do, like beepers are still a thing.

 

Maureen: I’m looking at him in case anybody was wondering.

 

Evan: Sigh.

 

Maureen: Sigh. Our next headline is Google Optimizes launching, so Optimize shows you which site experiences engage and delight your customers. It’s build on GA, has advanced statistical modeling and sophisticated targeting tools. What I love about this, is it seems to be. Google is giving us another tool to help small and medium businesses deliver on the aspirational chatter we’ve been having over the last few years about the personalized online experiences. I’m hoping that, that statistical modeling will help us frame out some better attribution models. I don’t know. What do you think?

 

Evan: It’s really interesting. God, I had this really long conversation with the rest of the team, this morning about attribution and looking at things more holistically and looking at things in a less fragmented way, and what they really means is not modeling, at all. You are just looking at your portfolio of investments over net sales, and net revenue. Then, looking at each individual data point, and how each of these channels are directionally contributing to that net revenue goal. I, attribution model with the best of them, and have a lot of fun with it and have definitely melted many computer processors in the process of doing that, but it’s …

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: I don’t know. Attribution is such a funny one, because the deeper you go into the rabbit hole, you kind of end up at the same conclusion, which is, I don’t have a chip in peoples brains.

 

Maureen: Right.

 

Evan: If you got the best attribution model on planet earth, and I know it’s like, your aunt told you about this crazy sale at Costco, and just go there to buy that sweater, and then that sweater company is attributing that to fifty different marketing channels that they were using, and everybody is, “Look. We sold this sweater,” but it’s really word of mouth. It’s so hard to get a sense of exactly what that contributing factor is. If you are looking at things in terms of true revenue. I hope it helps. I definitely will empower people to invest smarter in Google, which I think is the point of it. In terms of helping a true attribution, it still is such a mess, because all the media is so fragmented, all these big wall gardens you cannot measure across. It’s just what I live in, every day.

 

Maureen: I am going to add, your aunt to my attribution model as a lead source. It’s going to be great.

 

Evan: Great. My aunt.

 

Maureen: Referral, colon, Evans aunt.

 

Evan: Referral, colon, Evans mother-in-law …

 

Maureen: Yeah.

 

Evan: At Costco text message with picture and a smiley face.

 

Maureen: Although, maybe not a lead source, maybe I’m going to actually make it a campaign, and then you can be like, what’s the influencer campaign, and then we can get into the lead source …

 

Evan: My mother-in-law into some sick affiliate network, I’m just going to …

 

Maureen: I’m just talking about your aunt. Just your aunt.

 

Evan: Okay. Just my aunt’

 

Maureen: Just your aunt.

 

Evan: Right.

 

Maureen: Okay. Great. Those were the top headlines that I saw this morning that I thought were interesting outside of the ones that I actually wanted to talk about, before I discovered the Shockwave Flash plugin Chrome crashing. There you go. Let’s get on to your stuff, Evan. Evan Barocas director of display and programmatic advertising here at Point It. Your are chatting about programmatic advertising today.

 

Evan: I do.

 

Maureen: Evan’s been on a pretty serious crusade about the programmatic industries approach to transparency around pricing, but he’s also been a pioneer on how to use different types of data, in a way that helps clients get some ridiculous results.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: You’ve been pretty busy, this last couple of months. You just released that article, we talked about earlier on media post, about deterministic data, and you spoke at a conference, recently. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

 

Evan: Sure. Yeah. We’ve posted a, got a article published in Media Post, deterministic data. Deterministic data and probabilistic data are the two types of data that you can activate on digital marketing. The real easy way to know the difference between the two is deterministic data means I know exactly what that person is, and know exactly what they’ve done, and I know who they are, and I know all these different things about them, and I know it because I’ve either collected it, or somebody else has collected it themselves. Probabilistic data means I probably know what, who they are, and what they are based of their actions. I’m measuring their actions and I’m like, I kind of know what’s going on, here. Within a certain probability.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: The challenge with data is transparency. It seems like this topic of transparency, if I had to like nail down one real key issue in programmatic that was really just the biggest pain point I would love to see solved, it’s this issue around transparency. That’s not regulated to programmatic, that includes social, that includes everything, everybody is impacted by lack of transparency, right now. It contributes to that fragmentation, we just saw with Facebook, and how Facebook was over reporting on video completion rates …

 

Maureen: I saw that.

 

Evan: It’s because they don’t allow for third party verification and there is not a lot of transparency behind their wall of gardens, so it’s like no one is immune to this. If you are not really measuring things independently in yourself you don’t really know what your getting, and that includes data, and that includes even some of the better data sources like Facebook, and Instagram, and even Google. All of it is susceptible to this. The article was really about was how do you find reliable deterministic data to get out from behind the Facebook or to get out from behind a Google.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: One of the partners that we work with is this company called Push Brain, and they are one of the ways that we do this where they essentially have this amazing data source in which they measure app ownership by devices, by mobile devices in the US, and in a couple of other countries around the world. Basically, they look at your app, look at your phone, and then they look at the app that you own, and then they can kind of like buck at you against certain types of personas based off your app ownership to a high probability.

 

Maureen: It’s like a different kind of soft selecting.

 

Evan: Yeah. It’s like imagine if you own the Netflix app, you probably stream, or are a streamer, right? You like streaming content. That’s the easiest assumption, to make. Right?

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: If you have the next bus app, or you have the Metro North app, if you live in New York, if you have the Metro North app, probably a commuter. Right? That’s not a big jump to take that behavior, or that app ownership and then say, make an assumption about you.

 

Maureen: True.

 

Evan: If I’m marketing a product to runners, I’m probably going to want to know people who have apps on their phone like the Nike Free app, or the [inaudible 00:11:39] app or …

 

Maureen: I’m at my run.

 

Evan: Right. Exactly. I chart my run app. Easy. That’s not a big jump to make, and all of a sudden you have a qualified user who is probably going to be in market for your product.

 

Maureen: Are they going to be able to look at usage as well? Because I have I Map My Run. Truth be told, I use that thing about once a year. Don’t tell. Don’t tell my people. Don’t tell.

 

Evan: Sometimes aspirational runners are just as important as actual runners.

 

Maureen: Yeah. It’s true.

 

Evan: They’re more likely to be like, listen, I really need those new shoes, because I am going to run.

 

Maureen: I’ll get faster with new shoes.

 

Evan: I’ll run probably.

 

Maureen: I’ll probably run. Is that probabilistic …

 

Evan: Yeah. That is probabilistic data. I will probably workout this month.

 

Maureen: Great.

 

Evan: Sure. It’s just like you are taking these things, and the idea is that it’s scalable and it’s accurate, and it’s like normally getting data like that, and it being portable is really challenging, because Facebook has a lot of that. Google has a lot of that, but there’s a couple of other sources in there that have these deterministic data pools. PushSpring is one that I love the most because it’s transparent. I know where they are getting the data, I know that the data is valid and I know the audience has been validated because of it, and it’s like, cool, I can target off of them. When you are using a lot of probabilistic data sources, you have no idea how they are building that model. It’s not transparent. Part of it’s like programmatic has this promise of being scalable all the time. We can reach everybody.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: The top tier DSP’s have a two point five to three million query per second reach.

 

Maureen: No big deal.

 

Evan: No big deal. Right? We could buy three million ad impressions a second. That’s no big whoop. Right? Across all these devices easy peasy, like all this reach, everything has to be scalable. There’s some cookie based I’ve looked at that have five or six hundred million users in the US, we know that there is not five or six hundred million users in the US, it just doesn’t line up.

 

Maureen: No.

 

Evan: Like when you are looking at it critically, you are like, well maybe it’s one user across multiple devices.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: How do I know how many times I’m reaching an actual person …

 

Maureen: You don’t.

 

Evan: You don’t.

 

Maureen: No.

 

Evan: If you are activating these data sources if your using an entirely cookie based measurement systems or cookie based frequency like captain systems, it’s really hard to put controls, and guardrails up, and lanes, and you know where you are going. It’s really hard to get any type of control over the people you are advertising against which is the point of programmatic is more accurate audience targeting, and audience segmentation.

 

Maureen: Okay. Great. I know you got some interesting responses from that article, as well. What was the jest of people? What was surprising for people?

 

Evan: The most accurate data for any brand or company is going to be their data. Right? We know who at Point It, we know who are clients are. We know the companies that we work with. The idea is if you’re a brand like, if you are a large like eCommerce brand, or a technology company, or something, you are selling a product, you know the people who are interacting with your brand, because they are going to your site, they’re signing up for your email list, they’re giving you some part of their identity to access your product, and you know a lot about them.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: The problem is, is that, that data is not necessarily scalable. Right? If I have a hundred people that come to my site, I know information now about a hundred people.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: If I need to grow sales to a thousand people, I cannot rely only on the data I have on those hundred.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: I have to like find the next nine hundred people, and I’m not going to do it if I’m targeting just that one hundred people.

 

Maureen: Sure.

 

Evan: Your data is always going to be the most accurate, what’s really important is going to be figuring out what are the most efficient, and accurate ways that I can find the next nine hundred. Because if I start, if I’m only targeting those hundred people it’s not going to become a hundred and one, tomorrow. It’s going to stay around a hundred.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: If I start really investing in things, like PushSpring and targeting, like if I’m selling sneakers, I’m targeting people who are working out once a month with their run tracking app, that number might become a hundred and fifty. Now, that’s a hundred and fifty people that I am accurately and deterministically targeting and engaging with my brand, and the more quality upper funnel campaigns that I’m running, meaning users who are in market for my product, but I have not in tracked with my brand, yet. The more quality that those campaigns are, the more quality my deterministic, they more better, is that a technical term?

 

Maureen: I’m going to hashtag more better.

 

Evan: More better.

 

Maureen: Go on.

 

Evan: The more better, the better, I’m sorry. The better my deterministic data is going to be. If you are running really good upper funnel campaigns, that are really targeted, it’s quality data, the better your data sets are going to be, which are going to make them more effective, and everybody is going to be happy.

 

Maureen: Okay. Great. That’s fantastic.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: How does this intersect with what you talked about at the conference, recently? First of all, what conference was it?

 

Evan: I spoke at the Media Post Programmatic Insider Summit.

 

Maureen: Okay.

 

Evan: It was a really, really wonderful experience the people at Media Post are amazing, fantastic, fantastic people. They put on an amazing conference. It was a really honest conversation, I think, about where programmatic is, right now, what are some of the major challenges that we face as an industry? What are some strategies that we can overcome, or in what strategies can we use to overcome those challenges? The topic I spoke about was about programmatic video advertising. We have this amazing ability, right now, to target across a ton of different devices.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: We can look at a user and then map that user to a bunch of different devices. We can then take an action, unless they come to our site, sign up for this service, and maybe don’t convert, or they don’t finish their conversion, they’re an abandoner. They interacted with our brand in some way, that we can measure, but they don’t take the desire and action, or they are one of those next upper funnel users that we are trying to target and engage with our brand. We can take that app ownership on their phone, an action that they’ve taken on a desktop and …

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: Map it to their phone, to their tablet, and also to their TV. What we can also do is not just map it to their TV, serve them ads on a TV, and then sequence that with a mobile app, and start creating these nice sequences of ad units and build an actual, like a deliberate, not spray and pray, but like a deliberate path of engagement for a user with a brand.

 

Maureen: Man, as marketers, we know that it takes multiple exposures to a message to get a conversion …

 

Evan: Right.

 

Maureen: I mean that’s the holy grail, really. It’s where the magic lives.

 

Evan: Right. It’s all those different exposures. Right? What is cool about it is we can do a video ad, and we can sequence a banner, and then we can sequence a name to that …

 

Maureen: Right.

 

Evan: We can sequence a cinemagraph, and we can sequence a site takeover, and manage this all through the same platform, so that we can control frequency against the actual users.

 

Maureen: Perfect. Actually, that brings us to the next question I was going to ask you …

 

Evan: Cool.

 

Maureen: Which is what programmatic ad technology are you seeing making waves?

 

Evan: There’s a couple out there. I mean the Trade Desk is kind of a big one. Right? They just went public, they’re one of the partners that we use at the agency and rely pretty heavily to accomplish a lot of these things. They are just doing a great job, right now, of building a platform that is versatile, flexible, and does everything.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: It is not without it’s weaknesses, but it absolutely shows up to the table with providing a lot of these different plug and play components, where if I’ve got an inventory structure, here, I can access it, and I’ve got an ad unit over here, I can integrate it into my buying, and they are just very flexible with their technology so that it’s a versatile tool than enables that type of cross device, sequencing and that cross device, like frequency control for a user.

 

Maureen: Okay. Great.

 

Evan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen: The last question is, let’s talk a little bit about what strategies and tactics you are seeing, are getting some pretty incredible results from programmatic perspective?

 

Evan: Yeah. Again, it all ties back to that transparency thing. I think that the best strategy right now in programmatic is everybody is transparent with each other. I think that starts everything up, everything goes in the right direction once you’re transparent about it. People think that I’m transparent because I’m altruistic about it, I think that we should be good people and be transparent. I’m not, people who know me, because Maureen is laughing, right now, I have people who think I’m a good person. It’s not that your laughing about that, by the way.

 

Maureen: I think you are a good person.

 

Evan: Good.

 

Maureen: This effort goes behind altruism.

 

Evan: Right. I’m now charitable about being transparent.

 

Maureen: Are we going to sing Kumbaya next, because that would be great.

 

Evan: I don’t think that you put that in the agenda, for today. Today, is gone.

 

Maureen: Are you sure? Go on.

 

Evan: I don’t think the transparency is something we need because it’s nice.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: I think that transparency enables a different type of conversation around investment and programmatic that the industry doesn’t necessarily have right now as a whole.

 

Maureen: Yeah.

 

Evan: People are like, I run my media, but it’s over there I don’t really know what I’m buying, I don’t really know what I’m paying for, and it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in it. It doesn’t take long for marketers to say …

 

Maureen: Right.

 

Evan: Yeah. No. Since I don’t know what this is, and I’m not sure if it’s working, how long does that last? I mean, we’re not going to hug it out, out of good faith for very long.

 

Maureen: Right. It’s one of those things that I think that it’s the sustainability of it, but not just at the performance just isn’t as good.

 

Evan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Maureen: When you’re working with partners that aren’t transparent.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: At the end of the day you’re overpaying for media if it’s not transparent. I always go back to this mortgage analogy, because my wife and I bought a home, last year, I keep, I thought about this, and I kind of laughed to myself, and then I thought about it, and I’m like, Oh, God, no, this is really the right analogy. Imagine your buying a home and you go to the bank, and you’re like, “Okay. I want to buy a home. What’s my mortgage rate going to be,” and they look at you and go, “Oh. We’re a collaborative partner don’t worry about it, it will be fair,” and …

 

Evan: Wait, in that case, sign me up.

 

Maureen: Right. You would be like, “Oh. Yeah. It sounds great. They said it would be fair, so it’s fine. I mean, it’s fair. They are telling me it’s fair,” that’s insanity. No one would ever buy a home that way.

 

Evan: Yeah. It really speaks to the whole trust in business, because they have your back, dot, dot, dot question mark …

 

Maureen: Right.

 

Evan: You know?

 

Maureen: Right.

 

Evan: Manly because it’s because I’m a New Yorker and maybe it’s because I just don’t trust people, ever. I want, what I want is a level set. I’m like, “Hey, listen. I’m going to give you a dollar. I want to know out of that dollar how much you are making out of that, and I want to know how much this thing I’m buying cost, and let’s have an honest conversation about how much that should be.” Then all of a sudden we remove variables, and we can talk honestly about investing together.

 

Maureen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Evan: At the end of the day when I think about ground breaking programmatic strategies that are achieving amazing results, right now, I think the biggest one is just being transparent about what we’re doing. I don’t think that, that’s like the number one.

 

Maureen: Yeah. That makes sense.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: It makes sense.

 

Evan: It’s number one, for sure, and it’s something that we’ve been doing at Point It for a couple of years now, and I’ll tell you what, it really makes it easier to buy a media programmatically when you are just being transparent about it.

 

Maureen: Honesty in marketing.

 

Evan: Crazy. I know.

 

Maureen: My mind is blown. Dogs and cats living together.

 

Evan: I love how that’s is like an innovative idea. I am not going to just take people for a ride.

 

Maureen: Jeez. Some people, I tell you. Altruism. It’s a thing.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: Great. Thanks for coming.

 

Evan: Of course.

 

Maureen: Hanging out with me, today, Evan. It was really good chatting with you, again.

 

Evan: [crosstalk]

 

Maureen: We’ll see you next month, because we will be doing this monthly with you, which will be great. Thank you, guys for joining me, Maureen Jann, director of marketing for Point It Digital Marketing for Fine Point a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. We are here in the Point It studio, in Seattle, aka, the conference room. Next week, we hope to have Maddy and Katie join us to talk about their experiences at East, they be just getting back, and they’ll be fresh faced, and ready to go.

 

Evan: Yeah.

 

Maureen: Looking forward to having you all join us then, for now, stay on Point.