Episode #141: The State of Martech, Analytically Speaking, with David Raab

It sometimes seems like there must be a Moore’s Law of marketing technology (or “martech,” as the cool kids call it, and our site is on a .io domain, so we’re definitely the cool kids) whereby the number of platforms available doubles every 6 to 8 weeks. And, every couple of months, it seems, a whole new category emerges. From CMS to DAM to CRM to TMS to DMP to DSP to CDP, it’s an alphabet soup of TLAs that no one can make sense of PDQ! On this episode, Michael, Moe, and Tim sat down with the man who coined the name for one of those categories back in 2013: David Raab, the founder of the CDP Institute! It was a lively chat about the messy world of vendor overload and how to frame, assess, and successfully manage martech stacks.

Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Show

Episode Transcript

[music]

00:00 Announcer: Welcome to the Digital Analytics Power Hour. Tim, Michael, Moe, and the occasional guest discussing digital analytics issues of the day. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/analyticshour and their website analyticshour.io. And now the Digital Analytics Power Hour.

00:27 Michael Helbling: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Digital Analytics Power Hour. This is Episode 141. The state of MarTech is really changing and by changing maybe we just mean continuously expanding exponentially. And to think you can install it all with just one line of JavaScript. What a time to be alive. And finally, that’s right, the exhaustive MarTech podcast episode you didn’t know you were missing, starting with A1 web stats and going all the way down to Zipper. Tim, you wanna kick us off with the review of A1 web stats? And also hello.

01:06 Tim Wilson: Sure. A1, A1.1… Whatever it takes.

01:10 MH: A1… Yeah. I mean, what is a website? Is it chopped HTML? No. It’s… I was just kidding. That’s for those who remember the old old A.1. Steak sauce commercials from the ’80s I guess. Okay, and Moe, how are you doing?

01:28 Moe Kiss: I’m yeah, pretty good, pretty good. I’m actually really pumped about this topic, but I’ll save my myriad of crazy questions.

01:37 MH: Well, good ’cause we’ll let you handle the review for Arki.

01:40 TW: A-R-K-I.

01:42 MK: Great.

01:43 MH: And I’m Michael Helbling. I’ll be doing a review of a bonte cart. I think that’s how you pronounce it. I’m like, “Here’s the three… These are the three… ” So I downloaded the entire 7,000 whatever list from the thing and those were the three ad… Anyways. Okay, we’re not doing that, we’re really not. That’s just…

02:03 TW: Not all bits land as well, is the other one.

02:05 MH: But, MarTech does play a very central role in the life of the digital analyst and we should probably take a peek under the hood from time to time and see what that banging noise is in our data engine. Well, to do that effectively, we needed a guest. An expert to help drive a discussion about the place that marketing technology has in the life of the digital analyst. David Raab is the founder of the CDP Institute and he is the owner of Raab Associates. For more than 30 years he’s been helping marketers select vendors and service providers. He’s a marketer, consultant, author, and analyst. There isn’t really an industry that he has not consulted with leading firms. He’s written hundreds of articles on marketing issues and spoken to audiences in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Today he’s our guest. Welcome to the show, David.

03:00 David Raab: Thanks for having me.

03:02 MH: Maybe just get us started on what’s going on in marketing technology today, maybe what’s top of mind for you. And then I think we have an ongoing conversation we can dive into from there.

03:15 DR: Well, it’s kind of a large topic.

03:18 TW: Well, yeah. MarTech.

03:18 DR: What’s going on in MarTech today? Oh.

03:23 TW: MarTech, go.

03:23 DR: I got two minutes for that one.

03:24 TW: If you could take us through for all the way up to the letter L.

03:27 DR: Yeah. Exactly.

03:28 MH: Well, let’s see. Let me pull my list up after a bonte cart. No, I’m just kidding. No, I think actually maybe a better question is CDP Institute is more recent. And you started that I think in 2015-2016 somewhere around there. And how is that different from sort of the overall MarTech stack and how do people think about that? ‘Cause I think actually a lot of people still struggle to define a customer data platform which is what CDP stands for.

03:57 DR: That is what it stands for, so part of our work is done ’cause you know what it stands for, part of our work is not done ’cause you don’t know what it is even though we spent the last three and a half years trying to get the industry to understand. So the official CDP Institute definition is CDP is packaged software that builds a unified persistent customer database that’s accessible to other systems. And just as little bit of credential here, I actually invented the term CDP in 2013. That’s why I got to head the CDP Institute. Whether that’s a reward or a punishment, we’re not too sure but we best be very busy. But you’re right, it is a confusing thing, but it certainly is a tiny tiny little portion of the MarTech industry. MarTech, I guess to somebody as a definition, but I don’t own the MarTech Institute so I don’t have it at the tip of my tongue. But MarTech is kinda like all the technology marketers use. And you mentioned that I’ve been consulting for 30 years and I’ll point out that I started as a child starts so really only 47 years old but…

05:03 DR: The fact of the matter is back in the day there was very little MarTech. Way, way back in the even before my time, before they had computers, there was really no technology for this stuff. But the real growth happens just when you get to this thing called the internet, you’ve probably heard of it. That all of a sudden gives us all this data we didn’t use to have. If you really think about it, up until the ’90s you didn’t know anything about your customers. You knew what Ben Franklin knew, you knew their names and their addresses, and maybe what they bought, and that was pretty much about it. It was only till we got the internet that we could start en masse capture data about all of our customers, all their other behaviors. And that’s what really boosts MarTech to happen because now we have this explosion of channels and we have all this additional information, we have all these things. So that’s what gives us the opportunity to create all this great technology to take advantage of that. And that’s where it all comes from.

05:56 TW: It does seem when you go back to the base when MarTech… And I don’t know when the MarTech term was invented, but there was a time where you had your content management system, and you had your email platform, and you had maybe your e-commerce engine. It seems like over time and this is probably the completely predictable as these things grow and get more complicated I still kind of marvel at the, at Scott Brinker’s landscape, he draws boxes and labels things and kinda puts them in buckets. But it seems like one of the things that I’ve, I think I’ve heard you politely rail about something new comes along like a CDP, and the purpose of the CDP, even if it’s very, very clearly defined, it kind of starts a land grab where the marketing automation platform is gonna say they’re a CDP, the CRM is gonna say they’re… The whole DMP versus CDP. And that’s kind of been going on for, in lots of spaces.

06:56 TW: You used to have an email platform but then you started having marketing automation, what’s marketing automation versus email? Well, now you have your CRM platform. Things just kind of start to blend. And I assume it’s mostly driven by companies trying to grow and companies inherently saying it’s a lot easier to integrate stuff that is all occurring within our platform. And that’s certainly where Adobe and Oracle and Google and Salesforce have all landed, is they’re like, “Let’s kind of pull it all together.” But is that one of those challenges that we just are constantly… Everybody’s trying to claim they’re doing whatever different thing there is out there, maybe. There’s that a question? [chuckle]

07:42 DR: Well, there certainly is a tendency for people to expand the footprint of their products. That’s one of the natural, just the way software companies do. They have engineers, they build things. The engineers build something, you gotta give them something else to build. So they build a new thing, so you only add features. And they will, of course, chase whatever the hot topic of the industry is. So everybody wants to be a CDP if they have something that remotely resembles a CDP they’ll say, “Yeah sure, we’re one of those too.” CDPs in particular, exists precisely because we have all these great variety of systems that don’t really talk to each other, and that’s the purpose of the CDP is to do that. But if you go, as you say, into other categories, there is this tendency for people to slap the hot label, on whatever it is that they do. And that’s normal, that’s okay, there’s no real harm to it. Harm to the buyers ’cause the buyers are obviously very confused by these things. They know that this is a hot thing therefore I need it, which of course is a false assumption, but maybe I need it, but they don’t necessarily know what it is.

08:45 DR: The people in the industry, the analysts who are supposed to be guiding them themselves don’t necessarily know what it is, they don’t even necessarily understand it. Some analysts have a better understanding than others about what’s going on and they’re all kind of chasing the real leaders, who are the developers, the people who actually build these things, and invent things that are actually kinda new. What’ll happen is you’ll have, somebody will have an idea that’ll actually be a new idea, it’ll be a new thing. And usually it’s something that’s now become possible because the technology allows it. So all of a sudden we can watch what people are doing in real time what content their clicking or how their mouses are moving, maybe on the screen, and we can take advantage of that by using that to infer intent and pick the next piece of content in real time based on their mouse hovers which we couldn’t do ’cause we couldn’t read their mouse hovers before.

09:34 DR: So, somebody goes out and creates the mouse hovering software category and originally it’s just them and then there are two others, a few other folks usually who’ve been working in their basement in parallel because they all have the same idea, and it took them two years, and they all come out the same day and they look around and say, “Oh my God, there’s there other people who just launched the same product as I did.” But then, so if that catches fire, then everybody else they all, all the old-school guys say, “Oh, yeah, we can do mouse hover analysis, it’s no big deal.” And maybe they can and maybe they can’t. But now the mouse hover analysis is like this super hot category. They all wanna at least claim it because their sales guys are saying, “Damn, we can’t sell this without mouse hover analysis.”

[laughter]

10:11 DR: So they’ll say, “Yeah, we have mouse hover analysis.” And the thing about software companies that you have to understand, and I said this, years ago, to one particular vendor, they haven’t spoken me for decades, ever since. Is that they don’t really speak English, they speak a language that sounds like English, but it has no distinction between the future tense and the present tense. So when they say, “We have a feature.” In English that means we will have a feature, but because their language doesn’t make the distinction they’ll say, “Yeah, we have that, we have that next spring.” It’s like, “No, you will have that next spring.”

[laughter]

10:40 MH: Yeah.

10:40 DR: But they don’t make that distinction.

10:43 MK: So that’s one of the things that actually drives me a little nuts. I feel like I sit at a lot of conferences and there’s always that MarTech slide up of like, “This is where it was, there was 100 players, and now there’s thousands. And this is how the industry has evolved.” And part of me is just like, “Yeah, isn’t that how the whole world has evolved?” In terms of the right of companies starting, and the start-up culture, and I feel like everyone wants to go and do their own thing now and build their own thing. And I don’t know if MarTech is that different, it’s just got a very big pie, so there’s a lot more pieces that can get cut up, if that makes sense.

11:25 DR: Well, there are two things you will have there. First of on Scott Brinker, who’s slide we’re all referring to is the first one to admit that it wasn’t that there were 150, like when he did that first slide, it was just that he knew about 150. And as he got more thorough in his research, he discovered a lot of companies that were old companies, or relatively old companies, but they were just new to him. So that growth is nowhere near the same as the actual growth and the number of companies in the industry. ’cause… There were probably two or 3000 the day he started that slide and you can go back and you can look at the founding dates. If you do the analysis you can figure all that out. But no, because of what I was saying earlier, because there has been this explosion of marketing channels, yeah, there has not been an explosion of oil manufacturing technology, or pick an industry, right, or air travel technology.

12:15 DR: So no, the number of airlines or the number of air travel systems didn’t grow from dozens to thousands. There were a handful of major ticketing systems back then, there still are handful of major ticketing systems. So there is something about MarTech that has made it grow quicker. And the other thing that’s happened, maybe it’s the third thing is that it’s gotten a lot easier to build software. And that is true, that’s all kinds of software, not just MarTech. So you can go out start a company now with very, very little investment and very, very little resource, so that makes it easier for all kinds of software to grow. But there hasn’t been the same need for variety in other areas, I think as there has been in MarTech, so it’s a bit of both.

12:54 TW: Is there a piece that marketers are… Are marketers at all unique when it comes to one being more interested in chasing the new shiny thing, because they need to, they sort of self wanna kind differentiate, because they’re kind of in the world of differentiating their company and then also because there is the explosion of channels and platforms in ways that they could inject themselves into the consumer’s lives. Are marketers more… I’ll take the other extreme, finance people. I don’t feel like finance people are saying “We’ve gotta get the new accounting software,” they’ll still be working on some old AS 400 thing, and they just kind of maybe accept it. I’m sure there’s, not that there’s not some cases and not that there aren’t disruptors and I don’t wanna… I’m not trying to demean that industry. I feel like marketers are, and I worked mostly with marketers, and there are times where they need to fix their process, they need to set a strategy, they need to take a close look at their data governance.

14:04 TW: But boy, some couple of kids in a dorm room that two blocks over who walked by were saying they can do amazing TikTok marketing and I will completely lost the marketer, because they’re kinda chasing the technology and they’re seeing the technology as being the solution, when what they really need to do is roll up their sleeves and find resources or update their process or clean up their data. I don’t know if marketers are unique on that front or not.

14:40 MK: I don’t know, but David looks really entertained.

14:43 DR: I think you’re right, and your analogy to accounting software is exactly the one that I use as well, right? Accounting hasn’t changed that much, I mean double entry bookkeeping was invented during the Renaissance and the software’s there and accounting is accounting. And not only that, but when you buy accounting software, you kinda know what you’re getting, right? You know what it’s supposed to do. When you buy marketing software, if it’s a new thing, you don’t know what it’s supposed to do, you don’t know how well it’s gonna work. You know your books are gonna add up in your accounting software. Is the marketing software gonna make you more money or not, even if you know how to measure, you really don’t have to try. So it’s inherently a more uncertain kind of investment, which leads to a lot more experimentation, which is a good thing.

15:26 TW: Yeah.

15:26 DR: And you know, our marketers easily distracted by bright and shiny, well, they are marketers after all. [chuckle] If they wanted to be engineers they would have been engineers and then they wouldn’t have been distracted by the stocks, they would ask those hard engineer type questions.

15:40 MH: And I think though that if you can defend marketers a tad on this too, and that a lot of times they’re the ones…

15:46 TW: No.

15:46 MH: Expected to innovate in these frontier areas. They’re expected to create these new ways of engaging with customers and experiences. There’s a piece done by Google, they teamed up with Deloitte, I actually hate everything about it, but is staying, where basically they took all these board members and they asked them to describe what’s a great CMO. And they just thought thousands and thousands of these texts, and then they used machine learning to combine it into a single psychotic paragraph of what a com is expected to do, and it’s literally everything. And so it’s possible to have empathy for marketers in this way too, is they’re expected to deliver these huge revenue gains, and invent new categories and ways to measure it. And so, yeah, certainly where we very much struggle as an industry with chasing shiny objects and understanding what do we mean by customer experience management versus customer journey management versus…

16:50 MH: And people say words and I think, David, one nice thing is I feel like you do a really great job of actually trying to really put a stake in the ground on meaning, and so that people kind of have a way of grabbing on to something in this ever rushing sea of all these words and things that are being thrown out there. I threw something out on Twitter a couple of months ago and I went back and looked at it, I was like “Probably the least helpful thing you can do to figure out what a Mark Tech company actually does is visit their website.” And I got tons of interaction and feedback on Twitter on that score, because it’s true, you go look at every website and you’re like “Well what do you do?” Like “What do you want us to do?” It’s like “Ah!” Anyway, sorry for that interjection, but I think there’s ways to look at both sides of that.

17:33 MK: It helps. I would say the thing that I also do, I guess empathize with marketers is, that industry changes so quickly. The things where the technologies or the platform or the channels… Oh my God, Tim is gonna have a convulsion over there. And just even the new, especially social media changes. I actually think it makes their job really hard.

17:56 TW: And yet, email continues to be the most effective channel that ever, which goes to cleaning up your data, if you need to pull it in, I don’t know there…

18:06 MK: Unless you mail. All I do is unsubscribe anymore. That is all I do, unsubscribe.

18:11 TW: I have unsubscribed from the last company at least twice and I continue to get emails from an Australian wine company, which couldn’t ship to me if they wanted to, so that’s fantastic. [laughter] Where do you come down on marketers, David?

18:27 DR: Well, I am a marketer. I mean, back before I was a consultant, I actually was a working marketer and I’ve always thought of myself to this very day as one. Now I run a company after market get anyway, so actually now, once more too working marketer. It’s hard, I mean as I say, you’re doing the stuff and you really can’t measure your results at the end of the day. I know you guys are analysts, but it’s really hard to know what’s working and what’s not working, and even for me. And as I say I’m a marketer, I’m an MBA, I’m about as analytical as you can get and… Man, I can’t figure out where the heck my leads are coming from. I mean, if I really put my effort to, I probably could, but I got work to do, I gotta get that newsletter out to more and I don’t have time to analyze this nonsense.

19:08 MH: Yeah.

19:09 DR: I can count my clicks ’cause it actually shows up on the dashboard. So yeah, it is tough to be a marketer. And I say it just gets tougher. And it was never easy, but now, just because of the volume of data that’s pushing out, before you didn’t have any data right back in the Mad Men days, you had Nielsen ratings, that was about it, and you saw your sales and you could do a marketing mix model and three or four or six months later, you might get an answer that said, roughly, vaguely how your thing worked, but now of course, if you don’t have it within an hour, you’re getting all cranky about it, so it’s just, it’s gotten so much more complicated and so much harder. I have nothing but sympathy for these people, plus as I say, you didn’t sign up for this. If they’d wanted to be analysts, they would’ve be analysts, they wanted to be marketers, they wanted to go to the beach in Greece and Australia, and shoot up naked ladies drinking wine, that’s what I signed up for.

20:02 MK: That’s exactly what our commercials are like. [chuckle]

20:03 MH: Yeah, why can’t we go to Cannes? Come on!

20:09 MK: The reason I was so pumped about this topic is because MarTech actually is a term that I hear myself saying all the time, the thing that where I lose my sympathy is that I do agree with team that the marketing team often run towards the shiny new objects, but then they kinda wipe their hands off of the implementation, then it becomes my job. Like how do you make this work? And it’s something that even right now, I’m struggling with is like, who’s responsibility is this? Because I’ve worked in multiple companies where I can’t get a single engineer who wants to work on MarTech integration. It is not fun work. I find it’s really hard to get a team that are motivated and excited about it and it just ends up being my problem and then the marketing team are like, “But why don’t we have this tool yet?” And I’m not sure there’s enough self-education of the marketers about how the actual product works and how we’re gonna pipe it back and forth and that’s the bit that I’m like, “Cool, if you want that thing, then maybe you need to learn about it.” I don’t know, sorry, this is a real topic of frustration right now.

21:22 DR: Tell us how you really feel. I can see you’re holding something back.

21:26 TW: We’re kind of just looking for you for some maybe some real-time therapy, again, coming out of here. [chuckle]

21:33 DR: No, marketers are terrible at buying software. This is how I’ve made my living for years is off the fact that they are terrible and I’m a little better than they are, so they’ll pay me to help them out. And I’m not saying I’m good at it, but it is really hard, ’cause again, ’cause you don’t, it’s not like buying an accounting system, you can’t say, “It’s gonna do, this. This one’s gonna do it 2% faster at 3% less cost” or whatever it’s like, “Oh, I’ll be able to do this cool thing that I… I’ll be able to insert personalized messages into videos where I couldn’t do that before.” And that’s really slick, and inherently, intuitively, I know there’s some value there, but is it a $1000 or a million dollars of value, who knows? But back to your role with the CMO, the worst thing for the CMO to do is like to miss an opportunity, right? It’s like, “Oh, whatever you do, you don’t let somebody else become the first mover in whatever the space is.” So they’re really pressed to just try everything, so they kinda cover their backs on that stuff, which means you’re gonna make a lot of mistakes ’cause if you try everything you’re gonna lose.

22:35 DR: So should they be more strategic? Absolutely. Should they be more systematic in how they buy things? Absolutely. Should they actually like define their requirements and understand their use cases, and assess the products? Absolutely, and this is a story that I’ve been telling for decades, but it is hard. And again, we’ve been on both sides of that, and even when we try to buy stuff for ourselves, do I really have the time to look at 18 different… We’re looking today at tools to do vector graphics. It’s like, “Nah, just buy whatever one has the best that preferably with a naked lady.” [chuckle]

23:17 TW: The thing that Michael and your CMO definition of their job, like we’re talking about their sort of being pushed to chase the new shiny object, but then at the same time, when you look in, I don’t know if the 27 months average tenure is still the tenure, but that’s always been that gets tried it out, that CMOs don’t last and the reason being because they’re unable to demonstrate results which I think that’s a rough tension for them. If they’re saying, “We’re not gonna chase that new channel or that new MarTech or that sexy new thing”, then if they’re getting dinged on that but they really need to focus on their fundamentals, what was the tool? And it’s also, if they can buy themselves time by throwing a platform under the bus that the last CMO signed off on, in the digital analytics space, the Adobe versus Google flip-flop, you’re just automatically buying yourself six to 18 months of, “Well, the last guy got the wrong platform.”

24:17 MH: Yeah, so we gotta throw all that data out and start over, and yeah, it’s a big problem.

24:23 TW: And there are plenty of sales people who are happy to show them the, “Yeah, sure, yeah, we can do, we can do this thing.” You rattled off the having clear use cases, having clear requirements, the whole understanding how the platform works and I, even in discussions around the topic of CDPs that I’ve had with companies, when they’re like, “We’re gonna get this and we can connect our customers from offline to online or we can connect them across channels and this tool says it can do that.” And then you start trying to just scratch a little deeper and in saying, “There’s no magic out there. If they’ve done something clever with technology, then they need to… ” The ability to join deterministically is pretty straightforward, probabilistically gets a lot more complicated when they’re telling you that in scenario X, they can link customer A, link these two different entities together, but are you recognizing that scenario X is like one millionth of a percent of what actually happens on your site?

25:28 TW: That skepticism of the buyer just doesn’t seem to be there. And how important is it to actually, if you’re buying this new MarTech, you need to understand enough about how it works, not the completely under the hood, but what have they done, what have they managed to do that isn’t just they proved it out in Excel or they drew something on a white board, they actually have something that can work.

25:53 DR: Well, that’s right, and that is, again, where marketers often come up short is they don’t… They simply accept what the sales guy say ’cause you wanna accept it, right? They really wanna believe.

26:06 TW: Yeah.

26:06 DR: ’cause it would be great if it were true. But you’re right, they have an obligation to understand what’s possible, what’s not possible. And it’s really hard because things change all the time. Back in the day, you knew what was possible what, wasn’t possible. If you were in 1963 and somebody came to you as a TV buyer and said, I can identify every one of every person who views your ad, you’d say, well, no, you can’t. It just can’t be done. And you’d be right. But somebody came to that to you today even in TV and said to that, you’d say well, I don’t know. Can you? No because there’s all this cool technology now with…

26:41 TW: What is this year’s market penetration, I think is the…

26:45 DR: Yeah, so it’s not even so obvious, but they do. That’s not an excuse. That just means what makes it harder. They can’t rely on their gut the way it used to be for what tastes like smells like nonsense or sounds like nonsense, but that they just have to work a little harder to find out which usually comes down to testing. I mean, your example of the cross-channel identity resolution is a great one, right? ‘Cause everybody wants that. And yeah, as you say, there’s no magic, there’s certain techniques that work not now, ’cause of privacy rules, it’s actually getting harder, not easier. But you better understand how this guy is gonna do it or they’re gonna sell you something that doesn’t work, and then you’re gonna be in trouble. Yeah, there’s, there’s no excuse for marketers not doing their homework even though it’s the least fun thing in the world.

27:30 MK: But and that’s the thing is like even the other day, I had a marketer, we were chatting about a particular thing that we’re trying to do. And it was this typical, we were very honest, this is the limitations. This is what you can expect to see output. It’s not gonna be 100% certain, we’re gonna be going a little bit with the vibe of it, but we’re gonna do the best analysis we can. And an hour after that I had a marketer message me being like, hey, this tool promises to do that thing that you said you can’t do and I’m like, nope, they’re doing exactly the same as us. I’m just being honest about the limitations and they’re gonna tell you that it’s perfect and accurate and you can believe it, but we’re doing the exact same thing. They’re just packaging it for you.

28:11 TW: So, is it malicious? Is it dishonest? Like what are the Why? ‘Cause there are times where you know something like that example where I could see your feeling being there. They’re not necessarily lying. They’re choosing their words carefully. They may or may not fully believe it, I guess. How do you feel? Where do technology vendors fall on the spectrum of honesty? [laughter]

28:39 DR: Well they fall all over the place just like the rest of humanity. Some are morons, some are less on this.

28:45 TW: We told you, you were coming on a high-quality podcast that was professionally produced.

28:51 MH: Wait a second. I made no such claims. What did you tell him?

[laughter]

28:55 DR: All right. Well, that’s the point on the spectrum of podcast quality, you calling at that thereof. But it’s up to the buyer to understand what’s realistic.

29:08 TW: Yeah.

29:08 DR: That’s their job. And if they don’t know enough to make that judgment, which is really hard, because it all changes, that’s when you have to do testing. And that’s where buyers fall short more than anything else. They don’t force people to prove their claims. It would be really nice if everybody was super honest. And like Moe was just saying, “Oh, this is what works, this is what doesn’t work”. And you treasure those people, and they’re great. And you believe them, and you hopefully give them a lot of business. But you can’t assume everybody is like that. And you just have to deal with that. And even the guy or girl who’s not all that honest, may have a great product. So you can’t just say this is nonsense, you have to at least look at it. And then because there’s thousands and thousands of products, you can’t look at them all. So, you have to make some judgments and take some shortcuts and I think probably the hardest thing for marketers to do is to say I’m gonna walk away from this thing which sounds really cool, but I don’t have the time to prove it out or not. So, I’m gonna walk away, you just, I don’t have time to move out so I’ll give it a try, it the natural thing. And they try a lot of things that don’t work.

30:10 MK: Is that where I guess our profession can help with the bullshit detection. Is that a responsibility we should be stepping up to? Because I have been involved in CDP launches and all sorts of stuff and assessing tools like, is that something that the data analyst should be helping the marketer do more? Because we have that better understanding of technology or how the integration is gonna work or what the limitations could be.

30:39 DR: Yeah, absolutely. Any help is gratefully accepted, believe me, by the marketers, and by the people who are, and by the marketing technology people who are smart than subjected to nonsense as much as anybody else, maybe even more. So, what happens and I’m sure you’ve run into it is often that sort of clear-eyed skepticism is interpreted as hostility, so that’s the danger. And that’s the problem is that, even though you’re really just trying to help and try and sort of introduce a little voice of experience and knowledge, you just don’t get it, you’re negative. And no this really is great. So that calls for diplomacy. But that’s not a reason not to do it, you do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do for the organization. And hopefully, you find people who understand over a long term that it’s a good thing to listen to you.

31:32 TW: Or is it Are you saying no, because it’s hard or you don’t know how to as opposed to no you really do. But can we go quickly back to the testing or piloting or PLC? How do you approach, and CDPs are a great example, if you’re buying or considering a platform, that its core value relies on being deeply integrated with other platforms and systems? And obviously, you can’t do a full on implementation but what are the same would go for a CRM the same goes for even digital analytics, anything that you have to deploy into production? How do you approach the degree to do a proof of concept that is not gonna take you two years, and you’ll have to pay for it ’cause it’s so big, but what actually give you enough of a feel for whether the platform is gonna meet your needs?

32:24 TW: Well, it takes a lot of knowledge, because what you really have to do is you really have to understand where the particular challenges are. So again, back to your example of the cross-channel identity resolution. It’s a good example, I had a client, if it was a client or not but yeah somebody I know, in the industry and very sophisticated guy and he’d bought one of the CDPs and they had promised that they could do this particular class of identity resolution and turn out it couldn’t so that was a… That was the specific reason he bought them, that’s the pity of it. But he didn’t test them out ’cause he just said, “Okay, that’s fabulous. I’m glad to hear that. Where do I sign?” As opposed to testing out whether that same tool could do all segmentation which yeah, no question they can do segmentation. So you have to understand exactly the particular thing that you’re worried about that it’s hard to find where somebody’s making a claim that’s kinda like not terribly credible or not obviously true. And that’s what you test on, so you narrow the scope of the CDP to that. He could have tested it out with one or two sources, he didn’t need to have a full-blown implementation to test out that particular feature.

33:33 DR: The other thing that you do, and this is one of the most underutilized resources is talk to references. Nobody ever wants to talk to references ’cause you’re like, “Oh, they’re just their best buddies. Of course, they’ll say nice things and why should I waste my time on that?” But find out if they’re using it the way you’re gonna use it. Find out where they’re having problems where they didn’t have problems. If the references is doing A but you really need to do B, you ask them about B. And if they didn’t do B, then, well, find another reference, right? And if they can’t give you references, then what you need to do… That’s a huge red flag, and then you jump into your POC. But if you can find free references. He said, “Yes, I did exactly that with the product, and it worked great.” There’s no need for POC on that. You have to choose your shots in the POCs.

34:16 MK: We did… We just did a big database tool thing. And I think we started with 12 and we basically went through and all the analysts were involved in this decision, there was about 15 of us, but two of us were kind of leading it. And basically we had a set of… These are our absolute must haves. And if a tool doesn’t have this, then it’s knocked off the list. These are like nice-to-haves. And then we finally got down to two and we did two full POCs, which I’m not gonna lie. It was painful because you’re basically setting up integration with your data warehouse for two full database tools. And it was a very time consuming process. But, man, it was the absolute best decision.

34:58 TW: Was there a clear winner or did you wind up with being you’re still conflicted ’cause you… Neither one of them is a clear winner?

35:05 MK: That actually happened. Neither one’s perfect, right?

35:08 TW: Yeah.

35:08 MK: And it was a really interesting process because my boss decided to let the team decide. So we basically went into a room and we had a whole bunch of criteria, we judged it on, and then everyone had to go to one side of the room if they thought one tool was better, one side of the room if they thought the other one was better, basically the middle was a scale. And we did this for 10 different criteria. And by the end of that, I disagreed with everyone in the team, but that’s cool. By the end of it, we had a decision and everyone knew how we had made the decision. Everyone was involved in the process, and we knew what the limitations were. We were like, “We know there’s limitations, but we’re still gonna move forward anyway,” or “We know we can do these things that we really need.” And, man, it was time consuming but I don’t know, I’ll let you know how we go in six months once it’s fully rolled out.

[chuckle]

35:55 TW: David, you had another point when we were kind of… Before we started recording about a lens to look through the MarTech space is being kind of what’s your core technology versus what’s your… And it brought back like various business school things about adjacent versus core capabilities. Are you able to kind of reframe and explain?

36:17 DR: Yeah, we were talking about some of this. How do you know lot of the things that you really need to examine in depth, like the database tool I was just talking about as opposed to things where, “Yeah, what the hell, give it a try,” right? And a lot of people do talk about whether certain core technologies that are the core of my business that I really have to be very careful about and make sure that they’re the right thing to do, and then they talk about things that are on the edge. And I think the point I was making was it’s more than two layers, it’s more like an onion, right?

36:48 DR: First of all, on your marketing. There are lots of really truly core technology like the accounting system, like the logistic system, the auto process and human resources, some of which you have nothing to do with, some of which are really important, but you you still have no control if you’re… You don’t control the operational systems typically in marketing, so those are beyond your control. Then there’s things that are core to marketing, which is what your MarTech people will run, which will be like your CDP or maybe your email platform, and your CM management content, management system, some of those things that again really have to run. And if you had a problem with those things and you’re kind of, if not out of business, at least certainly running well, well below your peak efficiency. So those again take a lot of very careful analysis and selection. And then there are things that are really are more of the edge where you can let the marketers kinda go wild, and chase the bright and shiny because frankly if they make a mistake, it’s not gonna really do too much damage.

37:42 DR: So that’s where you get into the things where all of just ask a product, we just push a button and it’s signed up ’cause if it integrates with my core platform, it’s in the Salesforce App Store or whoever app store it is. I can just plug it in if it doesn’t work. What the heck? I’ve just lost a little bit of time, a little bit of money, it’s no big deal or the famous citizen developer thing that some people love. I hate the notion of citizen developers, but I’m in minority there. Just let people sort of do their own thing and they can create it all in Excel spreadsheet and it works, and that’s just dandy and let them do stuff ’cause why bother the real professionals with all that? But again, if it’s true edge thing, what the heck, why not? The problem, of course, is sometimes those things sort of wound their way closer to the core and then if there’s a problem or that person leaves, or they made a little mistake in their Excel Macro script blows up and all of a sudden you’re out of million dollars, you have a big data leak on your hand or something, so you do still have to be a little careful about that stuff, but the notion is that you do have to apply different standards to different kinds of technology and not just say, “Oh, everything must be super carefully vetted,” or, “Yeah, what the heck?” If anything goes.

38:54 TW: So there is the… For things that are moving towards the core, I guess that goes back to having a process sort of a governance process to recognize. The nice thing with those things that are kinda Skunk Works together is the people who built them have run into all of the reasons that it makes sense to get a fully vetted enterprise tool. They really can be subject matter experts and saying, “It needs to do X, Y, and Z. This is what’s unique about our business.” But my other thought is kind of understanding what is critical to the business. If you’re financial services, or if you’re healthcare versus you’re selling widgets, there may be fundamentally more sensitive customer data that you’re dealing with. What may be fine to just throw a drift chatbot up on your site in one scenario for another business that may actually introduce a lot of risks because information could be shared. So I don’t know, it all seems to go back to that, take a breath, be excited about the shiny object but step back and do the assessment whether it’s do you know exactly how you’re going to use this and what kind of impact it could potentially have? Or is it, “Well everybody’s talking about it and I’m getting pressure to try it out.” Can I pilot it? If I pilot it, how can I pilot it? What’s the right level of rigor to put into that?

40:22 TW: And that just all seems… To me it actually does go to where an external consultant can be super useful. And being an external consultant, yes, I have some degree of bias. I don’t think that’s… There are lots of downsides to consultants, but for that sort of thing somebody who’s got knowledge in this space and is not in the pocket of specific vendors have them come in and say, “Yes, set me straight. Let me be honest about what this is and isn’t gonna do and what it’s really gonna cost me in time and effort to make it work.”

40:55 DR: Yeah, I think yeah. You mentioned governance, the G word, right? Which people don’t… Marketers hate governance. This is like they just… It’s the absolute opposite of what they want. They just wanna go out and play, again. And they wanna be creative and the problem is that we used to be able to get away with that, but now we’re managing customer data and customer data is getting a lot more scrutiny and it’s a lot more regulated, it is. So any company that puts up a chatbot that is actually accessing customer data has to worry about that. Doesn’t matter what industry you’re in anymore, all right. And marketers are notoriously bad about that because that gets in their way. They just wanna do this cool stuff. And of course they have nothing but the best of intentions. But rigor and security is not something they teach you in marketing school by and large.

41:45 TW: Yeah.

41:48 DR: So there is much more of a need and much more of a sensitivity in what marketers work with at all levels. So that makes it even that much more important for companies to be really clear about what is allowed to be done on a self-service citizen developer basis and what kind of data really has to be very carefully locked down and very carefully managed. And that has to happen at the center. That’s the responsibility of either your core IT people at corporate level or your marketing technology or your marketing IT people, they’re the ones who have to put the access rules around the data. You cannot let the marketers just exercise good judgment ’cause with the best of intentions and even with the best of judgment, they will do things that turn out to be not right. And look, even the experts don’t know what these regs are cause the regs keep changing all the time. So it’s nothing bad about marketers that they can’t figure this out, but nor is it their day job. So we have to make sure that the people who are responsible for that really do get involved.

42:44 MK: But that’s why I feel like… So going back to that onion analogy, and this is something that I’m I guess trying to work with the business on is I feel like thinking of MarTech as it’s its own core thing over here is actually really problematic. I feel like it should be considered part of the core tech of the business because yes there are some tools that are probably on the periphery, but the data that marketing people are dealing with is really sensitive and they don’t understand how it works. And there is a whole bunch of privacy in compliance aspects and I feel like IT and particularly security needs to be super involved in that. But there is this framing that MarTech somehow is separate. MarTech is not core to our IT stack and therefore it’s different. And I’m like, “Well I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a marketer to know the latest changes under California legislation.” I don’t even think that’s reasonable. I think that IT needs to be super involved in that.

43:52 MH: Okay. We do need to start to wrap up.

43:57 DR: Wait but I was waiting for David’s response.

44:00 DR: Well, my response… Actually I do have a reasonably coherent response to that, which is that customer data is one thing and MarTech is something else, okay? And customer data is absolutely a corporate responsibility. There in the past was a little bit of vagueness about that because marketers had a lot of data that nobody else in the corporation cared about and the company hadn’t had its list of customers, it had transactions and that stuff was clearly core, but other information about what somebody looked at or how they respond to emails, that was really not that important. You could let the marketers do it and if it leaked out, it leaked out, who really cares what emails I read. But now actually the government cares. Pretty much every government, the Australian government, the US government, the European governments, they all care if I leak out what emails you’re looking at.

44:43 DR: So that absolutely has to be a corporate responsibility. So that migrates in. That’s where CDPs actually are migrating much more to be a corporate kind of technology and a marketing technology. We’re still not there yet and this whole on discussion we’ll not go into. But the other stuff, there’s a lot of MarTech that doesn’t involve customer data. And that’s the stuff that you can still leave out with the MarTech guys to play with. All right, so all of your content management tools, just as a large class of all your analytical tools if they’re not themselves working with customer data. And there’s a lot of kinds of web analysis and stuff that doesn’t really work with customer data. Those are things that, yeah, they can be MarTech. They can be… Corporate guys don’t have to worry about them too much. So yeah, there is a meaningful distinction between customer technology and marketing technology.

45:27 MH: Yeah, definitely noticed over the last couple of years as a consultant doing a lot of introductions within organizations of marketing to data management and privacy or extent haven’t historically talked to each other, but now must and it’s exactly spot on, David, what you’re saying. Okay, we have done it. Amazing job everyone. We’ve solved marketing technology in one simple… No, we have barely scratched the surface. This is great. David, I love some of the insights you were able to share. They’re so specific and concrete, especially around selection, getting a POC in place or even better, talk to references. I just thought both of those were really insightful and just really simple things that almost any company can do when you’re evaluating vendors in the space.

46:13 MH: I think the way you’re framing up some of these things around sort of core data versus sort of out on the edge data or however the layered data, that’s sort of not that customer data where we can exercise these levels of freedom with it I think is a great construct for people to kind of think about where their technology fits and how the intersection of them is. So thank you so much for that and lots more. One thing we do want to do or always do on the show is we go around the horn and do a last call, something we’ve found recently or we think that might be of interest. David, you’re our guest, do you have a last call you’d like to share?

46:49 DR: Okay. Actually very much in line with this. I was really interested I think last week to see where Google and Apple had gotten together to propose a standard for contact tracking relevant to the Coronavirus is going around, you may have heard. And what was good about it was that they really had proposed a very privacy safe solution where the data was not gonna… Was gonna be totally anonymized. It was not gonna leave your machine. And what’s interesting about it to me was that those are all known techniques. The people who really worry about privacy have talked about that kind of technology for years. So it was really good to see that there actually are a lot of people out there who know the right way to do this and if they put their minds to it, they can come up with a solution like that really quite quickly. So the notion that privacy is impossible, which we’ll often hear, it just can’t be done. Let’s just give up. No, it actually is very possible. So all those people… And we know how to do it, you just have to really want to try. So I thought that was a particularly important thing that hopefully people recognized why that was important.

47:54 MH: Very nice.

47:56 TW: Nice.

47:57 MH: What about you Tim?

48:00 TW: So I’m gonna do a twofer because we didn’t actually hit that David does do a daily email that I’ve been a reader of for quite some time. How long have you been doing the CDP daily?

48:10 DR: It started with the Institute, so it’s about three and a half years old now.

48:13 TW: Okay. And that was part of the inspiration for… David you’re obviously known for the CDP stuff, but as I’ve driven other… Gotten other people to sign up for it…

48:21 DR: Thank you.

48:21 TW: You do touch on kind of peripheral MarTech stuff and it is a great little quick read. I feel like once a week I’m forwarding it or tweeting something from it and it’s that perfect level of the occasional, little humorous, sarcastic zinger kind of make it delightful to read, not just informative. So that’s at the CDP institute’s website, I think people can sign up for it, right?

48:47 DR: Cdpinstitute.org absolutely.

48:49 TW: There you go. So in my other last call, it’s a little bit of log rolling just because I probably spent more time on it than I should have. But because everybody’s working from home and everybody’s discovering who has good bandwidth and who doesn’t have bandwidth, something that has bothered me for years is when I go to Speedtest or Fast and check my speed I know that that’s just a point in time. So I got a little carried away with using R to write a script that every hour it runs a handful of speed tests and takes the results from those and shoves them into a Google sheets, upload and download. And then separately I’ve got a little shiny app that will go and pull that data down and I can kind of play with the timeframes. And it’s got a distribution, it’s got time series, but it was purely trying to look at what is my bandwidth at my laptop over time and the code’s all up and available on GitHub. If anybody is fiddling with R and wants to set up a simple little Cron job and log their bandwidth and see what’s actually happening, it’s out there.

49:54 MK: Such a nerd.

49:56 TW: Yes, I am.

49:57 MH: Speaking of nerds, Moe, what’s your last call?

50:01 MK: I’ve got two as well, but they’re kind of weird. Well one’s weird. So one is a tip. If you’re working client side, I guess in light of this discussion, one thing that I had worked out is that marketing budgets are way way way bigger than product or IT or whatever other team budgets and CMOs are much more likely to sign stuff than say CTOs or CFOs. So if you need a new data analytics tool and you can package it somehow as like a MarTech tool, you will find that you have more success in getting that budget signed off. So for all the young folks out there, I highly recommend going through that side of the org versus the product side of the org if you’re trying to get signed off. So that’s just a tip in light of our conversation. The other thing that I was going to recommend, there’s a really interesting article by the ABC in Australia which was published last year, but it’s basically a data analysis on how climate change has impacted your life based on the year you were born and it’s really fricking cool and a bit full on but very enjoyable. So I recommend checking that out just as a random one. What about you Michael?

51:18 MH: Well, thanks so much for asking. So I went kind of down a little rabbit hole on a previous guest, Jody Ware who came on to talk to us a couple episodes back about workshops. And she mentioned, I believe it was her that mentioned this book, Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan. And as I was digging into a little bit more about him, I ran across this YouTube video. It’s like almost 10 minutes, but it’s the story of this US Navy captain named David Marquette, who took over this submarine that was like the worst rated one in the Navy and kind of what he did as a leader to get it to become the top rated one and the one that produced the most officers of any ship, I guess.

52:00 MH: So it’s really a cool story, and he did some very specific things as a leader to do that. Not really analytics-related, but if you’re an analytics leader or a people leader, there’s some really, really cool insights that he shares. Anyways, it’s one of those ones, the one I watch, is where the person draws little pictures as they’re talking, so it’s visually interesting too. So, we’ll link that in the show notes, ’cause words and pictures, just like our podcast. Wait, we don’t have pictures of this, do we? Aw, man. Alright, well, you’ve probably been listening and you’ve probably been thinking, “Okay, but I’ve got this question.” Or, “How can I find out more about what you just said?” Well, there’s some great ways to get a hold of us. First, the Measure Slack, we’re always there and we love chatting with listeners there. Also our LinkedIn group and on our Twitter account.

52:47 MH: Also, as mentioned, you can find a ton of useful resources around marketing technology and CDPs, specifically on the CDPInstitute.org site. And as Tim called, as I am also a subscriber to the newsletter that David Raab and his team put out. And it’s really good. Highly scalable, easy to digest and you can take in what you wanna take in. But, great addition to your morning coffee reads, so I also recommend that. Alright well, David, thank you so much for coming on the show, we really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for the constructive insights and the wealth of experience and wisdom that you were able to share with us today.

53:32 DR: Great to join you, thank you.

53:34 MH: All right, well great. And no show would be complete without talking a little bit about Josh Crowhurst, our producer. Thank you, Josh, for all you do. Hang in there. We don’t know what’s going on in Hong Kong right now, but the whole world is basically on lockdown, so I assume you are still too. I don’t know. This comes out in May, right, so maybe it’ll all be better. It’s all better. [chuckle] Congrats, we did it everybody. Okay, let’s hope for that day. But I know I speak for both of my co-hosts, Tim and Moe, no matter how complex your marketing measurement technology stack is, more perplexing. Just remember, take all those tools, keep analyzing.

[music]

54:19 MK: Thanks for listening and don’t forget to join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Measure Slack group. We welcome your comments and questions, visit us on the web at analyticshour.io, Facebook.com/analyticshour, or @AnalyticsHour on Twitter.

54:39 Charles Barkley: So smart guys want to fit in. So they’ve made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.

54:47 Thom Hammerschmidt: Analytics. Oh my god. What the fuck does that even mean?

54:53 S8: Have you seen Kevin? Look at him, he’s like…

54:58 MH: I know.

55:04 S8: You’re asking for my documentation?

55:04 S9: You’re… Right now David, you are ruining Tim for all other guests on the podcast. [laughter]

55:09 DR: I’m Sorry.

55:11 TW: Frankly, Moe and I don’t even prepare this well, David, so you’re really holding up the side really well.

55:18 TW: You had a child cut himself, I believe once Michael.

55:23 MH: Very good episode. Yeah, that did happen. Yeah, that’s true. I think one of them stabbed the other. I don’t know.

55:32 TW: It’s just how they say I love you in the Helbling household.

55:34 MH: It’s boys. You know.

55:39 TW: I’m reading the Road, it’s a nice little pick-me-up in these dystopian times…

55:44 MH: Oh no. No, Tim. That’s the wrong content. Not a good pandemic reading list.

55:53 MH: Putting myself back in the seat.

55:55 MK: He always does this. Not actually.

55:57 TW: What? [laughter] What’s my motivation.

56:03 MH: Well, you’ve been in this space a really long time and so…

56:08 TW: Thank you. I think he did a tour in North Africa it sounded like, even.

56:12 MH: Well I almost said North Africa and I was like, “That’s not on the list”. Maybe you’ve spoken in Algeria or Morocco, those are great places.

56:20 TW: Now you’re just showing off with your…

56:22 MH: That I know where North Africa is, Tim? [laughter] Well, being around such intelligent people like Tim Wilson, has given me an appreciation of things like some of the North African cities and regions.

56:38 TW: Rock, flag and shiny objects.

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