How Privacy Changes Will Affect Digital Marketing

In this week’s The Faces of Business episode, our guest speaker was Kevin Williams. Kevin is the Principal/ Partner at Digital Marketing Technical Services.  Kevin helps B2C brands with their digital marketing analytics processes and programs.  He and his partners develop software solutions for these challenges. 

When it comes to digital marketing, there are a number of concepts that we need to keep in mind. Among these privacy changes is a top option. This is why in today’s episode, we had a discussion on iOS privacy changes.

In this week’s The Faces of Business episode, our guest speaker was Kevin Williams. Kevin is the Principal/ Partner at Digital Marketing Technical Services.  Kevin helps B2C brands with their digital marketing analytics processes and programs.  He and his partners develop software solutions for these challenges.

The conversation started with Damon asking Kevin how he started his career and where he is today. To this, Kevin shared his journey along the way. He said that right after Business School, he was an operator for a company.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

He said that at that time, he was using Social Media and he was just throwing out ideas on social media just to see what works and whatnot. Moreover, he called this mini minimum viable product a joke.

According to Kevin, his strategy worked and he acquired nine utility patents and he outright bought them. Moreover, he then developed a digitally native brand based on those. This is how Kevin said his journey sprung and then last year he got into digital marketing.

Continuing the conversation, Kevin said that he thinks the best digital marketing platform these days is Facebook. Moreover, he talked about apple and iOS privacy changes. Kevin said that as an Apple user if the product is free that means you are the product.

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After this, Kevin explained how iOS privacy changes affect an Apple user. He said that Apple takes a 30% cut from all the apps that you use. Moreover, from the app’s algorithm, it gains most of the revenue from ads on that app.

Further elaborating on this, Kevin said that it also depends on the iOS users. This means that if these users are not transferring their data through this algorithm, it will cause changes. Moreover, he said that when it comes to ads, they will limit the amount of attribution window that is usually there.

Talking more about iOS privacy changes, Kevin said that it depends if you transfer the data through pixels or API. He said that when you ship data through API it has a 25% more conversion rate than on pixels.

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Later into the conversation, Kevin talked about the iOS privacy changes and other changes that are coming in the future.

The conversation ended with Damon thanking the guest for his presence.

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data, people, advertisers, facebook, brands, platform, ads, business, apple, advertising, app, attribution, product, bit, google, site, signals, selling, collect, users


Kevin Williams, Damon Pistulka


Damon Pistulka  00:00

I’m sorry, Kevin, I cut you off there. But welcome once again to the faces of business. This is Damon Pistulka, your host. And with us today, I’ve got Kevin Williams. And yes, now we are live on LinkedIn is not giving me the dreaded red button of death. Stream yard has been having problems the last couple of weeks, but looks like we’re on live. So that’s good. Welcome, Kevin. Great to have you here today.


Kevin Williams  00:26

Great to be here.


Damon Pistulka  00:27

All right. Well, Kevin, we’ve known each other for a while now, fellow people in e commerce, you’re a little bit deeper into it, because you’ve had some businesses and such an e commerce and developing brands and such. So awesome to get you and talking about the changes that are coming in privacy in the near future. We got some got some interesting stuff on the horizon, don’t we?


Kevin Williams  00:52

Yeah, we certainly do.


Damon Pistulka  00:53

Yeah. Well, so to get people started off, I always like to let let you tell. Tell us a little bit about your background. So we can kind of understand what your journey and kind of where you where you how you got to where you’re doing what you’re doing today.


Kevin Williams  01:10

Sure, sure. That’d be great. So I’m Kevin, I live in Park City, Utah, which is a terrible place to be I tell you,


Damon Pistulka  01:17

yeah, that’s horrible,


Kevin Williams  01:19

horrible, horrible move here from Washington DC about five years ago, so it’s better here. So my e commerce journey actually started outside of e commerce. After business school, I ended up being an operator for venture and Angel funded businesses in the Washington DC area. Sort of the joke would be if you needed to an operator or CEO with an unhealthy tolerance for risk. A lot of fascinating crazy companies in services in, in, in all kinds of different areas. But through that experience, I saw just an enormous amount of money wasted. Yeah, through people diving into ideas with with a lot of funding and a lot of heart, but really not having thought it through very well.

And I had the misfortune to end up being the last man standing at a few of those. And as social media started to rise in about 2013 2014, I saw it as an opportunity to test ideas without really committing to them fully. So I came up with a thesis that I jokingly call the mini minimum viable product, we hear a lot about Minimum Viable products. Yeah, what’s the minimal amount of work you can put into something to have a functional product? Well, I didn’t even go that far, I was using social media to test concepts by essentially throwing them into a crowded room in social media and seeing if anybody cared about it.

And lo and behold, it worked really well. And then I paired that with a strategy of acquiring intellectual property. So nine utility patents that were out there on the marketplace, or available through my network, I’d licensed them or I’d outright buy them. And then I develop initially digitally native brands based on those. So advertising direct to consumers through Facebook, Google, whatever it may be. Over time, that evolved a little bit into more of an agency structure where we had the capacity internally to manage multiple brands.

And we decided to start selling into more traditional retail. And as Damon will tell you, traditional retail and e commerce are not necessarily that compatible, but we were relatively successful in selling into major domestic and international retailers. Eventually, we were selling omni channel in over 52 countries with our last product. And we had the pleasure of selling it to a private equity group. Last year or so. along the line, I developed a pretty deep expertise in digital marketing.

And since the the sale of the company and actually a little bit beforehand, I’ve been working within a technical group of Facebook called Facebook marketing partners, technical services, it’s a fantastic name. But there’s a very small number of agencies that have been tapped to do what you would call signals intelligence. So interpreting and clarifying the data coming from individual websites that’s being sent Facebook in particular, but we also work with other major platforms to make sure that the data going into their algorithm can feed the algorithm in such a way that the results of the algorithm are quite good.

So good data in good data out. remarkable how messed up this is. There are 10s of 1000s of direct to consumer brands that are out there. And Facebook estimates that 30% plus of them are sending inadequate data signals back to the platform that impacts the hive minds ability to process that data. To get to the promised land, which was you put a quarter in, you put a message up and the Zuckerberg machine will spit out sales at the end of the day.


Damon Pistulka  05:10

Yeah, yeah. That is, whenever someone starts talking about Facebook, it always amazes me how that has really, really changed. I mean, just the evolution of the of the company itself. And the way that now that there’s so much marketing that happens on there, it just it still just boggles my mind.


Kevin Williams  05:31

It is. It is the most remarkable marketing platform ever created, for sure. And we’re going to talk about things and a little bit about that are going to denude some of its ability, but that’s still not going to change, no one has devised a machine that can reach individual customers at the scale and nuance that Facebook has been able to. And I have reservations from a consumer privacy perspective as far as what that means. But as a marketer, it has presented and hopefully will continue to present an opportunity for me to message to a very precise subgroup of customers that otherwise would just be unobtainable.


Damon Pistulka  06:11

Yeah. And that’s really, for the people that don’t understand what you know, the marketers panacea is really understanding your ideal client, or potential customer and targeting them directly. And that’s one of the things that I think Facebook has, has taken to a whole nother level in their ability to do that. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s one of the you know, in my mind, that’s what I think about them. I mean, Google’s one way and and there’s, there’s, there’s other platforms that do it. But I think Facebook has really done a nice job of that.


Kevin Williams  06:48

So I think that one thing that’s very important for people to understand is that there is of course, a linear relationship to your actions on Facebook, the things that you like that thing yet engaged, engaging in the sort of ads that they’re going to provide to you. But most people don’t necessarily realize is that is actually a very small portion of their overall targeting portfolio. So if they are going to put audiences together, yes, sure, they’re going to start there, like I’m a member of a mountain bike forum, I know that I’m into mountain biking, and yes, ads can be served to me related to mountain biking to Men of a Certain Age.

But that’s, that’s a very small piece of information that they’re getting. They have for FY or in data exchange type of relationships with huge publishers across the web, so that they can understand what me as an individual user does on other sites. Because as we all know, Facebook has matured, it’s not. There’s a cohort of people who it is their primary access to the internet and everything. Most people have some presence there, but spend most of their time in other parts of the web.

So Facebook’s brilliance really is managing to get the signals that aren’t necessarily on Facebook. So we call those third party signals and incorporate them into again, their hive mind, so that they can develop a much more thorough identity for an individual customer. Now, this sounds a little bit horrifying. And the media likes to portray it as a horrifying thing. But there are flip sides to it, that it can be misused, people do micro level tracking and write really horrendous things that that I think, expose individuals to messages that they don’t want to hear.

Yeah, but it also allows their web experience to be tailored to their interests. If I if Facebook didn’t know my interests, that I was into the outdoors and into skiing and things like that, it would be a much more genericized view of who I am as a customer.

And the people who do genericized advertising generally are the old broadcast type giant brands, it would be the Fords, the insurance companies, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, so as opposed to getting niche mountain bike ads all the time, I’m going to get like, you know, AstraZeneca ads and Ford F 150 ads and whatever it may be, that may not really be that relevant to me. That’s not really good for me as a consumer to discover new things and it’s certainly not very good for brands.


Damon Pistulka  09:21

Yeah, yeah. Well, especially to I mean for for Ford or somebody like that, or a big brand that knows Hey, we just have to blanket advertise. And it’s more about getting periodically out to the to everyone right? But for a nice brand. If you’re in a mountain mountain biking industry, and you’ve got the the greatest accessory for a mountain bike or the greatest mountain bike. You can advertise like that you have to use a it’s it’s monetary, you cannot afford to advertise like that. And even if you could, it wouldn’t provide the returns that you want. So you need to niche down into the right people. So and they want it and they want it for that. Then that kind of in for most part,


Kevin Williams  10:03

and that’s where things are about to start changing. So we can bridge into privacy a little bit. The main topic of conversation there is, of course, Apple. And you’ll hear about iOS 14. Specifically, it’s iOS 14.5, which is a little it is in beta.


Damon Pistulka  10:22

Yeah, it’s not there yet, because I think I was just on 14 point for two or three years or something like most of


Kevin Williams  10:27

us aren’t. But I can tell you, we look at 30 million points of data a week at the moment, and it is out there, and it is live in a minority of phones. So what’s backup will backup just a little bit, okay, you have these behemoths that are out there. And this case, we’re going to talk about the Facebook, the Google and the apple, right. And two out of the three of those make the vast majority of their revenue through advertising. One of them is a luxury item, a very expensive luxury items.

And Tim Cook very, very cleverly, I would say, is differentiating his product sets by incorporating privacy as a feature or a benefit both into the product and saying, hey, Google, an Android device is going to collect 400 points of data on you basically, every second, it’s going to be monetizing that you are product. And that leads to terrible things. Because the advertisers role to get you. I don’t 100% disagree with that, by the way. But the data is very useful to advertisers to get the relevant messages to you.

So Tim Cook says, Hey, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna give our users this feature that allows them to opt out of this second stage tracking that’s going on, that if an individual drifts into one environment, yes, it’s kind of free game to see what they’re doing. They’ve, they’re reading the stories, whatever it is, like that’s the trade off in modern modern media. But we’re not we’re going to give them the opportunity to opt out of the this wider universe of tracking that exists, that I was mentioning earlier. And it’s particularly Facebook that has this enormous universe of cross change, exchange data exchanges that are going on in terms of third party data.

So they have instituted something that they are calling the app transparency tracker, which is the att prompt, I actually never ever pronounced that it is the FTSE. Yes. Which is going to launch in iOS 14.5. And it’ll simply pop up on your Facebook screen and any other app that shares data, or shares what’s known as the idfa, which is the individual unit identifier for your phone, like it’s Yeah, runes, fingerprints, essentially, if that information is being shared outside of its own universe, a proactive pop prompt will pop up on your screen and say something along the lines of Do you want this app to be able to share your data and track you across the web?

And most sane people seeing that warning pop up? are going to click Heck no. And yeah, yeah. So up inside Facebook, and remember, I’m privy to to a pretty high level of development within Facebook. conservatively, they estimate that 60% of iOS users are going to opt out. Now, getting back to the business model for a second, there is a broader issue here, which is what’s really going on, is this just a product strategy by Tim Cook, or is there something else going on, and there’s definitely something else going on. They’re trying to regain control of the App Store. It’s like a whole nother set of topics.

But they basically lost control of product distribution is a distribution challenge, that when the App Store launched, you would go to the App Store and Apple could curate that and match you as an advertiser to various apps, so that they could encourage distribution of specific apps. They lost control of that, because advertisers realized that it was easier to make a two step shuffle and do their advertising directly on Facebook or Google or wherever they were doing their advertising. And then it goes through the app store more as an afterthought.

So the app store was just kind of an inconvenient step in the middle there as opposed to being the distribution channel that it was designed to be when Apple came out. So by doing away with with Facebook’s ability to be useful in terms of being an app based advertiser, they probably feel that they can regain control of this. Now. antitrust is absolutely in the air about this when you hear hear the wise people talking about this. You can hear their testimony. You can hear it like as their play Yeah.

About what Apple is doing and they’re they are self dealing the ad the advertiser that isn’t impacted. It’s Apple, Apple users can’t opt out of Apple data usage without going through a whole bunch of hoops. The advertiser that’s most affected, it’s facebook, facebook and Apple don’t particularly get along. And this is this is very punitive against Facebook.


Damon Pistulka  15:16

Okay, so. So basically, for, for me as an apple user, I’m just if I got an app on my phone, and it’s going to go to different places besides after I’m out of that app, and it’s going to track those and send them back to the to that the the app developer, it’s going to ask me if I want that to be done or not.


Kevin Williams  15:37

Yes, yes, it is. So So think about this for a minute. The the modern adage is, if the products free, you’re the product, right? Yeah. So that’s the agreement, as it were, between the advertisers and the users. So once people start to opt out of these apps, their monetization model is simply going to start to fall apart. So one of the macro effects from this is you’re going to see more paywalls start popping up that free content, it’s going to be tough for an app, an app to maintain free content if they can’t do advertising. So you’ll start seeing, hey, you know, it’s nice that you were using whatever this particular app is, but now this is going to cost you $1.99 a month, who does that benefit?

Who is that process through to Apple, because Apple takes a 30% cut of all of those revenues that pass through their store. So they win there, they might lose a little bit on advertising dollars. But they’re the winner as those paper out paywalls start coming. Yeah, it’s all of the apps are stuck in the store behind their their walled garden, and are going to be forced to to pay their toll as it works.

Yeah. So that’s one of the macro effects we’re going to see from this. So I’ll break it down. Like I don’t want to drift too far away from this practical perspective, whether you’re the leader of the organization, or a media buyer, or somewhere involved in the organization, this is going to impact all brands in in some way, shape, or form. And on the one side, or the macro effects, and the macro effects from this are simply data science, that if 60% of iOS users are no longer transmitting their data into the algorithms that start that create the audiences that optimize things, those aren’t going to work as well as they’re supposed to.

So you’ll see a decline in in efficacy, as far as the results that are being yielded yielded from the platform’s just on a natural basis. The next macro effect I ‘s is likely going to be while the paywalls that we talked about earlier. And it could follow across in in in other other surprising directions. So there, there are plenty of for profit relationships that are going on with that event communication, you weren’t aware of.

Yeah, you know, you see the Ford ad and the side, you get that stare. But that site is collecting your data, and they’re selling it back to Facebook. So it’s not the app you’re reading. It’s not just the Facebook app, or whatever the cute app is a weather app or whatever it might be. Now, you’re going to start to see paywalls popping up and content. That’s that’s that’s all over the place. From a micro perspective, not going to go into weeds here, I promise. Oh, yeah.


Damon Pistulka  18:43

Yeah, okay. Yeah, this is


Kevin Williams  18:45

the amount of signals that advertisers are going to get are going to be severely limited. And I’m generally a DTC, a direct to consumer advertiser will affect any type of advertiser, particularly those who have complex or long funnels, where there’s a lot going on in their funnel. The most modern advertisers rely on the advertising platform that they’re working with, in order to optimize.

And what’s going to happen is the data that’s being fed from the individual site to that platform is going to be delayed and highly restrictive. Not necessarily just from these users who have opted out of the att. But from a platform perspective, it’s just too complex for them to deal with it. So already you see Facebook limiting what we call the attribution window, which is the amount of time between a click the first click on the site, and a conversion to only seven days. So you have if you’re selling cars or real estate or something like that, read that or business to business services that relies on a long attribution cycle.

The your dashboard is just going to be missing that information. It’s also going to be really randomized as somewhere between 24 and 72 hours. So people like me tend to manage dozens and dozens of campaigns with dozens of ads with ad sets under the campaigns and ads are under there. And we optimize memory optimize on a daily basis based on the information that we’re getting. Well, those signals are going to go into start to just go away.

And first off the signals that on the apple side will only roll up to the campaign level. So in the in your advertising accounts, again, campaigns, ad sets, ads, you optimize the ad, yeah, the information is going to be at some random point in the last 24 to 72 hours, the most important event events that you’re telling us. So probably a purchase is a consumer brand, or a lead, in the case of a b2b brand. At some point, one of these ads under here might have delivered something. So Wow, it’s almost worth a pause.

Because if you’re out there buying ads, and yeah, anything, any significant dollars on ads, just imagine what your world looks like, if you can only look at the campaign level. Worse, they are restricting the ability of of advertisers that will be to to create multiple campaigns, because the obvious hustler move here is okay. Well, I’ll just create one campaign with one ad set with one at each of my each of my, my, my different ideas for stuff, that would be a huge pain. But no, it’s against, it’s going to end up being against Facebook policy at some point and trying to skirt around issues like that are just not the right answer.

No, that’s on a micro level, that’s one of the things that’s that’s going to start happening. Now targeting is also going to start falling apart. And this is less manageable on a micro level. But let’s just take a random example. I’m not a big football fan. So I apologize if I step on somebody’s toes here. But imagine that you are an online retailer who was selling cheese heads, Green Bay Packers, like cheese heads, the promise of modern digital marketing is you could drill down and you could find those cheese had fans because they were going to whatever the Green Bay Packers forum is, and if you know that they live in Green Bay, and they’re like a guy of a certain age.

And, you know, you could drive them right into this like Packers type environment, you might be an NFL schwag type, business, whatever it might be, and you can drive them in there. Now you’re going to lose all of those other signals, you’re going to lose them gradually. So it’s going to feel like a boiling frog, because data signals on the internet are preserved for in general 180 days to come. And as the cookies start to expire, for people opting out, that information is just going to go away.

So after 180 days after that cheesehead has opted out, you’re no longer going to know anything, but what he was doing in the Facebook environment, and he might have been involved in, he might be on a Packers page, or he might be on an NFL page or something like that.

But it’s gonna be really hard to find as many of those people as it was previously. So if you’re that advertiser, you need to rejigger the way that you’re looking at your messaging. And you’re going to have to go up the funnel, which is a little horrifying if you’re someone selling which is silly cheesehead, because you’re you’re going to be mixing your messages, you’re going to put people into the middle of an environment that isn’t going to be as consumer friendly for for them.


Damon Pistulka  23:42

And, and as as consumers, we’re used to getting the cheese head stuck to us because if we’re if we’re a friend, if we’re a cheese head fan, if we’re a Green Bay Packers fan, we’re used to getting Green Bay Packers, advertising, that’s your use get used to it. I mean, I see Seahawks stuff all the time, because they you know, obviously I’m on the Seahawks stuff and and this is really something because two things for the for the DTC brand or b2b doesn’t really matter. How the heck are you going to measure conversions?

If it’s only if it’s a seven day window between a click and and they come back and buy only seven days within seven days? Hell, that’s a lot of times it’s something’s more than that than a discretionary purchase of 20 3050. You know, not more than $100 it people spend more time than that, just thinking about it.


Kevin Williams  24:37

Absolutely. And you’re reacting to that I ever see a bright eyes like,


Damon Pistulka  24:41

Oh, yeah, that would drive me crazy. Because all of a sudden now, I just I used to get conversion data and it was 90 days and that’s pretty good in most data seed environments. That’s that you know, if they’re not, they’ll be back if not, but that’s a reasonable amount of time. Right? And and but uh, If it’s going to be seven days, you can be throwing money in, it’s like throwing money in the wind, you have no idea if they actually convert it or not.


Kevin Williams  25:06

So if you’re optimizing ads, you’re really only going to be able to optimize after that 72 hour window. So you will have wasted a lot of money in between. Part of the reason that Facebook is restricting the number of overall campaigns that you can have is because internally, they’re basically taking up kind of ghost campaigns that they’re going to be running in the background, that are machine learning based campaigns. So you may have 10 going, but they may have 90 more, that are going that are trying to mash it up and try to make sense of this.

The they are relying very heavily on this idea that privacy is moving in this direction absolutely is. So we have to get away from individual identification that’s identifiable through, you know, whatever it may be in their third party data, and trying to create more anonymized cohorts and groupings of consumers that you can push traffic into. But just superficially, that’s that you would run into the cheesehead problem again, that Yeah, you’re going to end up with males from certain states that like football, but yeah, Steelers vs. vs. Packers vs. Seahawks, like that’s, it’s gonna be very hard to figure that out.

So I do as somebody who views themselves as a technical marketer, I’ll say that the solutions to this are almost a flashback, that when all of these things started, the reporting dashboards were horrendous. And to be honest, the reporting dashboards now are not terribly accurate, go back all the way to the beginning of this conversation, when I was telling you about data signals like there is a big mismatch between the sort of data that that you are sending from your site and what Facebook is either anticipating, or Google is anticipating, and you will almost always see large misalignments between these.

So one outcome of it is that they’ve recognized that this is a problem. And they are leaning very heavily on API based connections to sites as opposed to pixel based sites. pixels are a line of code that sits somewhere on your site that collect information and then ship it off to wherever they’re told to ship it off. versus an API, which is actually a data connection that shifts that information off, and is far more reliable. So we see somewhere between eight and 25%, increase in conversion accuracy when you’re shipping data via an API versus shipping it via pixel.

So it’s one of those things that if you’re trying to troubleshoot What the heck is going on here, getting involved in the conversion API process early is is important. And at some point, it’s going to be required. Problem is this is not easy. Like now you’re talking SQL databases and data collection and onset roles. Because that data still needs to be collected, and then your pixel isn’t configured correctly, or it’s not, it’s not firing rapidly enough. So it’s not catching all the information. So you’re sending garbage information backup. So they’re, they’re absolutely going to insist on getting this information in this form.

But we’re seeing that most of the implementations that they’re that they’re recommending right now are inadequate. So they work okay, if you’re, if you’re that cheesehead guy, and you’re just pushing your message out, and it’s converting, coming back, not a huge deal. where it falls apart is in those longer tail engagements, or engaged engagements where you’re trying to measure a whole bunch of events that are happening, subscription models, upsells, downsells, cart actions, things like that.

I can’t say this unequivocably, but I’ve I don’t think I’ve seen a plain Jane implementation of the conversion API’s that capture all that stuff. So Shopify, that mean, one of the major e commerce platforms has put out a solution, but it doesn’t really work the way it’s supposed to. So this puts the small business owner or the small advertiser in this place where they’re trying to play tech geek.

And it’s tough like it is really, really tough. So what I was referencing as far as the way we used to do it is this is the way we used to do it, where we would gather all the information on a first party basis. And we would make our decisions based on that aggregated data from a whole bunch of different sources. As far as how to allocate our funds. And it would be very granular, we would be like targeting t mobile users of Android phones just happened to be working. And we could isolate that as an audience and and go after them. But it required enormous amounts of data collection. Yeah, frankly, a lot of smaller advertisers.

And by smaller I mean advertisers spending less than about a million dollars a year so we’re not talking particularly small, generally migrated over to the platforms because they were reasonably accurate, they were much more user friendly, the information was right there, the graphical interface is quite good and continues to improve. So they, they drifted away from that. And the skill sets drifted away from that. If you wanted to be a technical Digital Marketer in 2013, or 2014, he had to be part data scientist basically, to, to really, really execute on a high level.

And, you know, it’s it’s a boon for for brand marketers, because they could focus on their brand and less on the technicalities of the whole thing. Well, now, I think we’re really going to see a sea change.

And the way that advertisers have to go about collecting their data, and understanding their data and having a single source of truth and trust in that data, in order to make actionable decisions, because it’s important to point out here, that the internet in part runs on being able to collect user type data from individual visitors on the site, that configures everything from the resolution you’re seeing on your screen, on special options that pop up, that’s sort of a building block to how the web works.

So it is still free, it’s still permissible with permission, you see the cookie boxes that pop them on sites, to collect that data, as long as you’re not doing anything that’s outside of your the scope of your agreements, like selling the data somewhere remarketing to it, whatever it is, you you need the ability to use that data yourself.

So you have to figure out how you’re going to collect that data and how you’re going to store that data. And then 30 million points of data that we’re getting just from one brand a week, like, now you need to make sense of it. Yeah, there’s a real challenge there. For an SME type brand, that’s or even a small agency that’s trying to figure all this out for being able to manage it.


Damon Pistulka  32:01

Because you’re so so I’m gonna put it in layman’s terms, you can help me through this. Because you what we’re saying is basically, it’s going to go back to the point that where you got to do a lot of the data analysis that was being done by like, say, a Facebook, because you need to see the people that are coming to your sites, what they’re, you know, what they’re where they’re going, what they’re doing that kind of stuff, yourself, rather than take the data from, from a platform like a Facebook?


Kevin Williams  32:37

Yes, yes. So the flow currently would be the data flows into Facebook, if you’re doing it right, the API flows from your site to Facebook. And then generally you have a data visualization tool. That’s that’s collecting attribution data, like a tableau or a Google Data Studio, whatever it might be, built your your dashboards that look in on that, that’s, that’s how brands do this. Often, they’ll have their own bespoke sort of systems. But yeah, do that anymore, because the data that’s being passed from the site to the platform will be inadequate for a large swath of your data population. And we have been talking about Apple.

So when this starts, it’s going to be the apple opted out users. So one way to triage this for your brand is to trot over to Google Analytics, and take a look at two easy points of data. What percentage of your data is coming from Apple users? And to how much do you care about long attribution periods, like if 9.8% of your sales are on day one, like, you’re still going to have the ad optimization problems, but it’s your it’s not going to be as big a deal.

But if you’re if you have like all this, the sales that are happening on day 28, or day 82, or whatever it is, or if you’re doing anything complicated, because it’s it’s it gets lost in this a little bit, but Facebook is only going to be accepting a small amount of data from even the API.

So you’re going to lose a lot of the granular stuff that geeks like me like to look at is the other events that are with you say you’re doing a Google Tag Manager implementation, and you’re looking at squirrel and all of these other cool goals that, you know, if you buy this and then or if you click on this and this and this, and then that leads to to a cohort that makes some sort of sense. You that’s not going to be communicated. So yeah, we’ll be gathering the data and then putting it in a format that that BI tool, that business intelligence tool, whatever it might be, can make sense of and it’s it is an enormous data challenge to figure out.


Damon Pistulka  34:47

Yeah, yeah. Wow. So this is this is this is a hell of a change is coming.


Kevin Williams  34:56

So the back in about 2012. I think it was It was kind of it was a little bit before my digital marketing time actually when the first when the SEO hammer came down with. With Google, there were all of these business models that were built on this idea of attainable search engine indexing, right? 1000s and 1000s of small businesses and people figuring it out. Sometimes just sometimes, disingenuously, sometimes genuinely like, this was the way it was done to develop relevance, and Google just smashed it. And it just destroyed a huge swath of small businesses that had to figure out how this was gonna work.

And it’s taken them years to figure it out. And more or less only the strongest survive, or the right skill set came out of it, because the new skill set was quite a bit more rarefied and complicated. And I think that that’s what we’re going to see in terms of more digital marketing going forward, because it’s not going to be just apple. I mean, Google’s going to have to follow their they are going to be retiring cookies in the next two years. And there’s going to be a lot of machine learning that’s based on these audiences.

But this idea that you could start a business that that is, you know, maybe it’s a side hustle, maybe it’s a real business that sells something silly, like cheese heads, and make it work because you can cost effectively attract that, well, it’s not going to work. So what do we do? What do we do as marketers? One right now as of six months ago? Yeah, focus on customer CRM data as much as you possibly can. So trying to develop first party traffic and first party pieces of data via cell phone number, always with permission, of course, yeah, getting people’s opt in through a solid content through really engaging them, and get as many points of contact as you possibly can.

Because once you have that email from the legit format, or you have that SMS, now you have means of marketing to them through owned media, and you can kind of avoid this problem. Yeah, this, the the industry will will have the industry is going to tell you that ads are going to get really cheap, because nobody’s going to be able to advertise and the other half of the industry is going to say that it’s going to get really expensive. because nobody’s going to be able to optimize, I fall kind of on the expensive side, because I think that the brand advertisers aren’t going away, and they’re perfectly happy, happy, happy spending 10s of millions of dollars directionally as opposed to on a granular basis.

And the it’s all based on an auction system, and the little guys are going to get priced out, and they’re going to have to buy a lot more eyes. She said, you have to buy a lot of NFL eyes to get to that cheesehead audience that might be contained in there. So one is owned audience. Two is his audience retention. So given your given, given the customers that you already have, like, you need to treat them very, very well. We are your asset going forward, you need to give them what they need, you need to not make them angry, keep them on your lists. And one of the mechanisms of that is going to be high levels of personalization.

And we are heading into just an amazing age as far as being able to provide very, very highly personal project products to people. And because they’re your customer, you know a lot more about them. It might be a dog breed type thing, it might be a jersey, whatever it is, but a high level of personalization in that experience. In general, if you’re starting a new product, having steering away from nice focus, and storing steering more to a broad market appeal is going to be important.


Damon Pistulka  38:47

So now that’s just stop there for a second. Everybody. Everyone you talk to you and e commerce talks about niching down right now. So you’re saying that in order to be effective, that’s not going to work anymore, because it’s going to be too hard to hit that audience. Yep.


Kevin Williams  39:05

After a while it will be


Damon Pistulka  39:06

after a while. But I mean, wow.


Kevin Williams  39:08

So that’s why the retention and the retention in the CRM are so important right now that you know who your niche audiences are. So you need to hold on to them. But if you want to reach a new versions of version of them, it’s going to be tough. And we don’t quite know how it’s going to play out. Yeah, quite yet.


Damon Pistulka  39:30

That’s pretty scary for people that have spent you know, 10s of millions of dollars to niche down into very profitable groups of people and and continue to market to those groups heavily because what happens if he seems to be shaking in your shoes if that goes away tomorrow? Yep, your golden goose might be gone.


Kevin Williams  39:50

So you know, the next bit is what do you do? How do you what do you play this game and the match macro issues with it are going to mean remain like, these are trillion dollar companies. Yeah, really that and they have some of the smartest people in the world working for them. And they are putting enormous resources into figuring this out. So to a degree, the attitude that, ah, they’re gonna figure it out, it might be directionally accurate, I think, would be a lot more friction and pain in that process than people expect.

And it could present a great deal of opportunity over the next, you know, six months or so as the stuff starts rolling out, or, you know, there could be a antitrust suit against Apple, and there could be an injunction and nothing’s gonna happen. Yeah, even so, I strongly encourage our clients and big brands that I talked to even anybody who views themselves as a reasonably sophisticated digital marketer, you need to own your data, that data is an asset. Yeah, you’ve been given it away to all of these platforms, because it’s easier to do that. And it’s time to figure out how you can retain that data on a first party basis, even if you don’t fully know how to do it. Because once it goes away, it’s going to go away.

And if you have the database of all the hits, and all the events that are happening on your website, and you grow to a point that it makes sense, it’s better to have it and not to have it. And even if nothing happens, in this privacy, you now have a single source of with this privacy issue, which I don’t want to use a double negative, but nothing is not going to happen.

Yeah, is something this is something is going to develop. So now you have a much more sophisticated view of your marketing activities in a in a platform agnostic sort of way. Yeah, it might be blending in a whole bunch of different channels. So you can better see it as an operator, if you’re the CEO, or the director of marketing, like you want to be able to see that. That level of of rolled up detail that’s not like, oh, how’s this platform doing? And how’s that platform doing? And what’s happening over here? And where’s this lead going? And who knows? Yeah. So I think that rigor is good for marketing. Yeah. easy for me to say like, Oh,


Damon Pistulka  42:14

you know, I


Kevin Williams  42:15

know what I’m doing. And I came in at a time when it was it was easier to learn these skills. And now it should be harder for new entrants. But there’s a lot of bad behavior in digital marketing, with unethical advertisers who are doing bad things with the data that they have. Yeah, they’re offering really unfortunate products. It’s, it’s, it’s bad news. And to a degree cleaning that out a little bit. And professionalizing, it is something that the industry needs. It’s a good thing.


Damon Pistulka  42:48

So when you talk about retaining the first party data, now, are you talking about the the actual people that are visiting the websites and domains you own? That’s what you’re talking about collected? And go on? Okay, Damon, just this IP address, just hit my website, and they went to these three pages on my site for this long is that the kind of data you’re talking about? Or what are you talking about collecting?


Kevin Williams  43:13

So we try and stitch together data based on an identifiers and identifiers that we create. And this is easily a technical rabbit hole. But yeah, and find like what is for the, for Facebook, they call it a click ID, the FB CL ID so okay, every time something happens on Facebook, that is transmitted, and we can catch that on the site. And then we capture a whole massive string of event data of the things that they’re doing on the site. Because we know that Facebook is no longer going to be retaining those events.

So if we want to be able to track did did somebody subscribe or an upsell? Did they upsell, they passed an upsell one but they bought an upsell to, that’s exactly the sort of data that’s going to get lost. So we can we can track that within that individual data, data stream. And then using the common identifiers that are in there, anonymized to not retain any PII personally identifiable and we can stitch that data together in a way that helps us better understand that customer’s journey and and whether or not they’re converting, even outside of those attribution windows.

It’s gets far more comfortable complicated under the hood. But we can tell multi-platform attribution is still really tough. Like it’s the goes to Facebook and they go through Google. But we will have a very good idea of a multiple site visit type person who’s coming to our site and what they’re doing and how we can we can maximize that experience for them. Wow.


Damon Pistulka  44:55






Damon Pistulka  44:59

that’s base That kind of stuff is, is a lot of the stuff that Facebook or Google provides now, but it’s going to be much less efficient. When these changes come into play. I’m trying to simplify it here for myself, or somebody listening, because this is, this is gonna be scary for the smaller. Well, for the big people, obviously, I mean, you got, if you’re not going to be doing a system like this, and you’re not collecting data now, it’d be a scary thing to be the CEO of a company and just be something to keep you up at night. That’s for sure. Because if you’re if you’re able to, you know, put a quarter in and and money comes out the backside and product sales, it’s not going to be there.


Kevin Williams  45:42

I think it’s scary for agencies as well, that on the smaller side, a lot brands are agency dependent. Yeah, agencies, although I’m finding that some of them are aware of this, there’s sort of a stick your head in the sand sort of approach, really, to it, it’s relying on the platforms to figure it out. There’s a proper alignment of incentives to figure this out.

But this, there’s this sort of underlying sentiment that Oh, they’re still going to kind of do it under the table and whatnot. I don’t think so. I don’t think so they can’t collude. Yeah, they really need to avoid antitrust. Yeah. And apples, just look at Epic Games, you know, the war that’s going on with Apple in the app store with epic. They’re not messing around. Like, they’re, they’re gonna go to the mat on this. And they’re, you know, Tim Cook and Zuckerberg don’t have a whole lot of love lost between them. So yeah, I wouldn’t count on this just resolving itself, it’ll get ugly for a period as as we all figure it out.


Damon Pistulka  46:49

Wow. This is this is really interesting. And it says it’s enthralling to me. Because being an e commerce and not understanding this, and then to with the clients that I’m used to working with our b2b clients, and they’re usually some of these in manufacturing, you know, this is a really long cycle that they you go through I mean, months and months and months.

And, and I yeah, this is gonna be something, it’s gonna be something where this changes, but you had a couple of good, I think a couple things that I heard that was really, at least for the short term is get on Google and just figure out how many iOS users First of all, maybe you’re lucky, and it’s 2% of your total, which is not but maybe you get lucky. And and that that might help you for a while. But this overall man is this is really a challenge that people are going to have to come to to come to terms with in the near future.


Kevin Williams  47:44

Sure. Sure. Be aware when this starts rolling out that you may see changes within your your accounts, and you need to be paying attention to them for sure, because it could get out of control in a hurry. Yeah, so I’m almost an evangelist for this just spread the word that you do need to pay attention and some of the brightest people in digital advertising. They’re very worried about this for sure. It’s really fun about that. So clubhouse. The only place I hang out on clubhouse are these like, really wonky ad tech type type.

Yeah. And I just kind of sit there with my pen and like, Oh my gosh, really? Oh, really? Oh, he they’re talking to them. You know, it’s a fascinating thing. And these are the folks who run like programming media for time, you know, these are all all jobs, and they are all worried. And when I see them worried, and Facebook developers on like, these, these technical training type things that we do, and they’re literally sweating, like, I don’t know, when we lose 30 or 40% of our data, like that system wasn’t built for that.


Damon Pistulka  48:55

Yeah. Wow. There’s gonna be it’s gonna be a change, isn’t it? It’s a it’s, it’s a scary but exciting time as well, because you’ve been you’ve been obviously working on stuff to collect this data. And and you even went out looking and you think there may be a product involved in this?


Kevin Williams  49:14

Yeah, that’s some that is definitely where I’ve landed. So we saw the need for this. For six months ago, or so we saw the writing on the wall. We were part of this program. They literally wrote it on the wall, like, Do you need something on the whiteboard? Yeah. So we started looking for solutions for this. And given the volume of data that our clients deal with. We just couldn’t find anything there reporting tools out there there to do the conversion, the conversion API transmission, but we just couldn’t find anything that did the level of data stitching that we were going to need to get that single source of truth. So We’ve spent the last five months developing that.

And we now have, the whole thing is in beta, we have, actually, it’ll be about 12 different clients who are involved in it. And these, the profile of the clients are interesting these are these are going to be cutting edge direct response type marketers who live and breathe by this data, and know that they’re going to need it in six months. So there’s an awfully nice type of client defined, most people are going to wait for this for there to be pain, and then they’re going to round and look for a solution.

Yeah. But we have the advantage of having created it, it’s launched, it’s working, it’s doing all the things that it’s supposed to do clients, right, in our system, we can renew cookies for up to 190 days. So you can get that long tail tracking, we have basically unlimited events that you can track within the system. It’s, it’s it’s very robust. And we kind of looked at each other just a few months ago. And we’re like, Huh, well, this is kind of a neat thing. I bet that there are going to be, oh, I don’t know, 10,000 businesses out there, they’re going to need this next year. And although there are others who do parts of it, nobody has put together the entire thing.

We you know, we’re forming up into a real product, and that we hope that we can offer soon, actually, it’s more more not America’s a mass market. But that is out of that rarefied section of like crazy data one like right now it’s this nebulous, crazy database. And they don’t want any of our visualization tools because they have their own like, no numbers, please. Yeah. And there’s a lot of work that goes on in behind behind the scenes for stitching all of that together. And there’s Yeah, we’re our intellectual property is I guess, but to turn it into a product that a smaller brand branded spending, you know, 25 $50,000 a month.

And I totally recognize that for a lot of people that’s like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t imagine spending that much money that they can pick up pieces of this that would be usable, usable to them. Yeah, I have a bit of a maybe pie in the sky dream that there’s another aspect of this where we can almost become data therapists, and start working with more data science type people to help brands, probably not that small. But midsize brands understand that data a little bit more, because it’s great to ship them 30 million points of data. But, you know, even the media buyer might be very technical, but they’re not really going to know how to make much sense.

Yeah, no, turning that into a larger business where we can we can really serve as a coach and a guide. And we sort of joke that it’s like, you know, digital media buying therapist, like, am I doing? Yeah, you’re doing the right thing. It’s looking good. Yeah. But most importantly, we’re equipping those brands with with that data that they own, that’s transportable, we’re not trying to do anything. Yeah. That’s behind the scenes as far as like catching their data. And no, that’s the other thing that you’re going to see coming forward. Is there a bunch of opportunistic type of platforms that are going to be all about that data?


Damon Pistulka  53:17

Yeah, they’re gonna want to collect it themselves and aggregate it.


Kevin Williams  53:20

You would not believe how often that we see pixels that are buried within like Shopify apps, people pick up random apps, and those apps are stealing their customer data. Essentially, Shopify has a relatively weak approval process filed that away. Like I’m about Shopify, we, boy, I’m a shareholder, like, I love Shopify. Five, but they need to tighten that up, because the sort of information is leaking out the edges of Shopify is is pretty horrifying.


Damon Pistulka  53:49

Wow. Wow. Yeah. Because I, as you said, that I was I was envisioning that very thing. It’s like, hey, we’ll help you do this. And you know, what we’ll be able to, and, and but they’re collecting your data. And then now they’ve got your data to sell along with everyone else that they say they’re doing this. And, you know, come in with a low price model that’ll help help people help people. But they’re helping themselves to the data on the other end of it as well.


Kevin Williams  54:17

Yep. So know who you’re buying from? Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  54:19

Yes. This is awesome. I love to geek out on this stuff of it. Because I really think that we are, we are at a really interesting point. Because we’ve gone through the whole, you know, Facebook has gone that and Google has to Google’s just, I believe, a little more a different approach, obviously, and other things, but this, the digital advertising and the pay per click is such an advanced thing. And now seeing how this is gonna flip is gonna be it’s just like turning it on its head. It’s just gonna be turned upside head.

We’re gonna see what’s going to happen in the next year after this. So goodbye. stuff, man, I love I love the conversation. So if people want to reach out and talk to you a little bit more about this, I don’t understand happen. I’m glad that you’re you, you. humor me and turn it into the simple words that you understand on this. But but it’s, it’s awesome talk about this. If If someone wants to reach out to you, it’s best to just message you on LinkedIn or connect with you on LinkedIn, Kevin Williams. And that’s a good way.


Kevin Williams  55:27

sure we’re Kevin at Discovery. is


Damon Pistulka  55:31

my email





Damon Pistulka  55:36

Anything else that anything I should add anything that we should be telling people that are listening, that they really need to know that we haven’t told him yet today about this,


Kevin Williams  55:45

they just need to be paying attention. They need to pay attention as this rolls out. There is some low possibility that it’s all going to be totally rosy. But I need a lot of people in my area, at least to think that and look for opportunities, I think as well. Yeah, you know, you’re in the sales and acquisition business. Yeah, I tell you, as somebody who’s who’s involved in that a little bit too, it is put a little bit of a lens on the type of opportunities that I’m looking at. That is this a business that’s so highly dependent on these platforms doesn’t have its own owned media, like those are. And if you’re using an agency, ask your agency what their plan is, they need to have a plan.

A lot of agencies are super creative, and they’re really good at buying, but they need to know how this is going to play out. Or how they they at least have a plan B like hoping, hoping that nothing’s gonna go wrong. Okay, fine, but hope but play hope for the best plan for the worst. Yeah, that would be the right saying. And if you are a sizable Facebook advertiser, you probably have a rep. Talk to your rep about this, facebook, facebook actually pays our firm directly to do some of these implementations for big brands. So they’re so serious about it that Facebook writes the check. It’s not actually the brands who write the check that there’s a small group of firms that can receive that business. But yeah.



And know that


Kevin Williams  57:21

LinkedIn, Google, other major platforms are skirting around this on the edges. And it’s very unclear how that’s going to play out. Facebook is by far the most dependent on independent signals for and how it optimizes. And that’s what makes it so effective. But LinkedIn is saying, Oh, this is no big deal. We’ve moved moved the idfa from our data. So therefore, we comply and you don’t need to pop up the att prompt.

Maybe I will see, you know, they have a lot of internal data they’re using and it’s considered first party data, because they’re focused on people on their platform, but just be aware of ancillary effects all over. And this is also compounded by things in Europe with GDPR privacy concerns California. They’re staying abreast of privacy concerns is it’s tough. Yeah, business. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  58:17

And it’s in play said many times now. It’s just changing so much. It’s so much work. Yeah. It’s been awesome to have you here. Thanks. Thanks again. And it’ll be interesting to maybe talk later this year, early and 2022 and see what really has transpired because this is this is just like, it’s gonna be the could be the Wild West again for a while. Yep. Yeah, good stuff. Well, Kevin, thanks so much for being here. Again. Thanks, everyone, for listeners today on the faces of business. We will be back here again next Tuesday at 3:05pm pacific time. We’ll see you then. Thanks.

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