Episode 5: Hippies and Data Don't Mix, Do They?

October 20, 2021
DataChat LIVE! Episode 5: Hippies and Data Don't Mix, Do They?
In this episode we discuss:
  • Opinions on Facebooks recent woes and what it means for marketeers across the world
  • Google's next step for Google Analytics 4
  • Some exciting announcements for ObservePoint
  • And more!


Jason Thompson

Jason is an experienced digital analyst & entrepreneur whose primary focus is helping organizations think differently about the delivery of information, insight, and recommendations. He previously served as the Vice President of Strategy & Experience at Keystone Solutions. Before joining Keystone, Jason was a Sr. Consultant at Numeric Analytics and prior to that was Manager of Web Analytics at Spark Networks, where he crafted a world-class analytics practice. Recently, Jason co-founded 33 Sticks, an analytics boutique, advising Fortune 500 companies and partnering with unique, early-stage startups. His personal passions include a love for cooking, a talent for playing bass guitar & piano, and a unique interpretation on life through the art of photography.


Mike Fong

Starting his career as a Data Analyst, Mike has traversed Digital Analytics, Consulting, Sales and now currently works in our Product team as Product Marketing Manager. Clearly a jack of all trades, using data and spreading a positive attitude are the common threads throughout his career.


Chris Baird

As Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Baird is responsible for providing strategic marketing direction for ObservePoint products, solutions, and services, and for presenting the ObservePoint brand worldwide. He previously held various marketing positions at Mrs. Fields Brands, Omniture, and Adobe.


Cameron Cowan

Cameron Cowan is the Sr. Director of Product Strategy at ObservePoint and a veteran of the marketing analytics, digital advertising, and enterprise software industries. He joined the ObservePoint family via the Strala acquisition and plays an active role in product management, technical marketing, and GTM execution. Prior to his time at Strala, Cameron spent 13 years working for Adobe (via the Omniture acquisition), gaining experience in account management, consulting, and technical sales before establishing himself as a leader in product management, technical marketing, and business strategy. His career has included living overseas on multiple occasions and collaborating with marketers and technologists on four continents.

Google Blog - GA4
Facebook - Rebrand
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Mike Fong: (00:08)
So, welcome to the fifth episode of DataChat Live! This is where data lovers talk governance, validation, and decision-making, and more. I'm your guest host today, and today I'd like to introduce our guests Jason Thompson, CEO and Co-Founder of 33 Sticks, and also a warm welcome back to my frequent collaborator, Cameron Cowan, Director and Product Strategy here are ObservePoint. And I, Mike Fong, Product Manager Marketing at ObservePoint as well. Jason, welcome to the show. I read a few articles in your blog of interest, but why do you refer to yourself a hippie CEO? What can you tell us about your story?

Jason Thompson: (00:49)
So, first of all, thank you. I'm happy to be here, love to chat data with good people. So the hippie CEO moniker it's something that's been building for probably a couple decades. I probably haven't been the best of employees over my career. I failed to really blend in and I kind of butted heads with my management team at a lot of places I went, but all for good reason. I've always felt that there was a different, in my mind, a better way of doing business, a more humanistic way of doing business. And I really started to play with a lot of ideas. I had about business really with my previous job before 33 Sticks was created. And I was testing out a lot of ideas of again, taking a more humanistic approach to business. And it kind of culminated in a pretty heated conversation with the executive team at my last job. And one of the members of the executive team pulled me aside and said, "You know, Jason, you can't run a company on rainbows and hacky sacks." And I'm like, what does that even mean? And they said, "You know, your hippie ideas about how to run a business, you can't be profitable. You can't run a business, that's going to succeed like that." And so rather than being upset about it, I kind of fully embraced it. I said, you know, I'm okay being a hippie CEO and taking a different view of business and I'm going to take that moniker on and kind of run with it. And so that's kind of the story behind it.

Mike Fong: (02:16)
How do your team, what do they call you? They call you Bro, or Guru?

Jason Thompson: (02:22)
They call me Jason,

Cameron Cowan: (02:22)
The Dude.

Jason Thompson: (02:24)
I sometimes am often referred to as The Dude.

Cameron Cowan: (02:28)
Yeah. Jason you and I have a little bit of shared background. We both started, at least, early in our careers had some time at Omniture. So definitely a lot of background on the technology side in the consultant group there, I think you were implementation consultant, is that right?

Jason Thompson: (02:44)
Yeah. That's a throwback.

Cameron Cowan: (02:46)
That is, I think you started what, 2004? And I was about six months after that. But then obviously you moved on to some agency and partnership. So no longer being in charge of the technology, but kind of still in the ecosystem. You were on client side for a little bit. Tell us a little bit about that journey that got you to 33 Sticks and really why you're excited to be running your own shop now.

Jason Thompson: (03:07)
Yeah, so I left Omniture to join an online dating company. So I went directly from services to clients, because I had convinced myself that I knew everything about analytics that there was to know. And man was I in for a rude awakening, but an amazing opportunity to really learn and grow my first couple of weeks on the job. I'm like, I know nothing about analytics. So it was a great opportunity. Online dating is amazing datasets built out a practice over about three or four years building out analytics, optimization practice. But, but my love has always been in services. I love working with lots of different people, lots of different challenges. And so I got back into, into consulting and spend time at a few other agencies.

Great experience, but just didn't really like the way that consulting was being done. Not only just from a business perspective, but how we engaged and how we viewed our clients, it just wasn't resonating with me and I wanted to do something different. And again, this kind of led to the rainbows and hacky sack discussion. I wanted to get away from the concept of billable hours. I felt it was against clients' best interests. It was really leading to burnout with really good consultants where we were asking them to bill unreasonable hours. And I'm like, there's a better way to do this. And again, I tried to do that at some of my previous jobs and to see if it would work every time I tried it, I got pushed back. So you can't run a business like this. And I'm like, well, how do I know? Like I've never done it. And so 33 Sticks is coming up on nine years old. So about nine years ago, walked away with my business partner, Hila Dahan, and we created 33 Sticks. And the whole idea was we had all these ideas about doing business different, let's try it. And if we fail, we fail, but let's not just accept it isn't going to work without actually trying it. And so it's worked so far. Not that it's perfect and not that we don't have a lot to learn, but the ideas really seem to resonate with our employees, with our clients. So it's been incredibly difficult, but an amazing and a very rewarding journey.

Cameron Cowan: (05:15)
Yeah, that's fantastic. And one of the things I noticed on your LinkedIn profile, the way you stated was "We aren't traditional web analysts, we are business advisors that just happen to be really good with data." I mean, is that kind of the approach of everyone on the team, that you've just got a lot of people that are really smart and know how to help businesses move forward?

Jason Thompson: (05:31)
Yeah. I mean, the people that we attract, so the average kind of tenure, well, not tenure, the average industry experience for a consultant at 33 Sticks is 10 years on average. So the people we attract are very, very experienced. And one of the things that you'll notice when you get to that stage in your career, and I'm sure Cameron, you're seeing it as well is it's no longer okay, just to do the job. You know, we can all do the job. A lot of us in our sleep. That's like we've done it for so long, but it gets to a point where we want to do something that's more meaningful. We want to work on things that are actually helping change and guide businesses. And so in order to keep the type of people that we were attracting happy and fulfilled, we had to shift our focus from just doing the job of analytics, to really focusing on what our big focus is on both the craft of analytics. So kind of taking it from a job to a kind of a craftsperson level, but really we're focused on the experience of analytics. And by that, I mean, how are we making these companies we work with feel? Are we changing the way they think about data? Are we changing the way they think about their customers and business with the use of data. And it really has helped elevate and change the way that we engage with companies. And again, my driver was to make sure that my team was happy and working on things that made them fulfilled. The output was incredibly valuable and very unique and new experiences for the companies that were working with.

Mike Fong: (07:00)
And I'm guessing you managed to retain your team a lot longer than the average sub-duration, right? The average analyst leaves about 18 months.

Jason Thompson: (07:08)
Yes, that's right. The team's sticking around. And when they don't, they sometimes come back. We've had a boomerang so, one of our pop analysts, his name's John Durong he's based out of Bangkok, was with us for several years. He left to join a large technology company based in Bangkok. And recently came back and kind of bringing his experience, working for a company in Southeast Asia. So, yeah, we're not a fast growing company. We're a company that grows slowly with market demand. And as part of that, we've kept a different kind of slower lifestyle, which has helped us retain employees for much, much longer.

Mike Fong: (07:52)
Organic, and you're keeping your customers happy, not over expanding, promising too much, and then failing to deliver. Right?

Jason Thompson: (07:57)
That's right.

Mike Fong: (07:58)
That's really important.

It is. And, you know, we've kind of taken the Patagonia growth model. So if you've ever listened to Yvon Chouinard, talk about how Patagonia grows. He's like, you know, we don't have arbitrary revenue goals or growth goals. We grow at the rate the market tells us that we can grow. And we've done something similar where it's like, I'm not going to set arbitrary numbers that we want to hit. We want to grow at the rate the market tells us that we can grow. And ultimately that has kept our customers happier. We've been able to deliver higher quality products to them. And it's kept the team happier and more balanced. And to me, that's it. Like, I don't want to attract people that are going to burn out in 12 to 18 months. I want people here for the longterm in order to do that, I need to teach to keep the long-term in mind and their mental and physical health and mind, as well as if I'm burning them out I'm failing.

Mike Fong: (08:45)
I've been a consultant. And I think the business models fundamentally of charging or paying a consultant a fixed salary, but charging their timeout hourly, that there's definitely a contradiction of terms there. Right? You have a fixed overhead, but you're trying to, you know, it's a scalable income. So there's the incentive there to just, you know, burn those consultants out.

Jason Thompson: (09:06)
It's a great model for profitability. It's a horrible model for mental health and well-being for employees. And that's a horrible model.

Sounds like Hacky Sacks and rainbows.

Mike Fong: (09:15)
We've promised our audience a great decision on a couple of topics today. So firstly, and I don't know what order you want to take this in actually first one is Facebook, some interesting news from Facebook last night. And the second one is kind of the Google, a most subtly changed from Google. I mean, Jason, Cameron, which do you want to flip a coin? Which one should we go?

Cameron Cowan: (09:36)
I want to tackle Google first, partly because, I mean, thinking once again about the shared a history of Jason and I have going back to Omniture, there's been a lot of change in the world of web analytics, digital analytics, customer analytics over the last 10, 15, 20 years. Obviously Google GA4 is just the next iteration of that, but I'd love to start there and, and dive in to see what Jason's seeing with the customers that you're working with.

Mike Fong: (10:00)
Yeah. Well, let's talk about the specific change we're talking about. So recently, just in the last couple of weeks or three weeks ago, actually, and I will share my screen, Google actually posted an update on their blog. And the language changed there, it was very subtle. They're now, I guess, suggesting or encouraging the customers to see GA4 as the primary analytics tool rather than a dual tagging, right? So it's a very subtle change in language, but I guess let's set to Jason first in your work, where have you seen this? Has this affected you in any way, or what's your thoughts on this?

Jason Thompson: (10:38)
Oh, for sure. So Google from a sales perspective, has absolutely ramped up their game there. You can tell that there is a huge push internally at Google to get GA4 adopted. And I have some thoughts on that, and I don't know if now's the right time to jump into that or not.

Cameron Cowan: (10:55)
No, jump into that, go right ahead.

Jason Thompson: (10:55)
So one of the interesting things that I'm seeing with GA4 is the promise of building more predictive-machine-learning type of algorithms into the platform. But what that creates is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, are either one of you following Tesla's rollout of their full self driving functionality?

Cameron Cowan: (11:14)
Absolutely, yes.

Jason Thompson: (11:14)
Yeah. So it, it kind of mirrors that. So Tesla's full self driving is nowhere near ready for prime time. It shouldn't be in consumer's hands. It's just not good enough, but it's never going to be good enough until they get it into the regular driver's hands. You can't build the machine learning models on a track. It's got to see the real world. So Elon's kind of struggling with that balance of getting it into the real world, knowing it's not ready for the real world. And I think Google is in a very, very similar chicken and egg space here, where a lot of the promise to GA4 is the machine learning algorithms, the audience identification that's being done behind the scenes, is that it can't be ready for prime time until it gets into more real-world consumer's hands, but it's not ready to be in real world consumers' hands. So again, it's this balance of chicken and the egg thing of having to get it out there in order to get the data, to learn from knowing that it's not ready to be out there.

Mike Fong: (12:08)
And apart from moving customers to the next version. Are they up against like a deadline? Is there anything, is there anything pushing Google to push GA4 to their customers?

Jason Thompson: (12:20)
Well, I don't know.

Mike Fong: (12:22)
Like privacy concerns, or ad blockers?

Jason Thompson: (12:22)
I don't think so. I don't think there's any kind of formal deadline. From my perspective, and again, I'm sure I have some biases, as Cameron mentioned, we have long history back to the early days of Omniture, but I've tried to be independent. It's clear to me that Google is eyeing Adobe, especially with the GA4 release. They're trying to get parody with Adobe and that's causing some challenges, in that as an analyst, I love it. If you notice a lot of the changes, you can tell that they're looking at Adobe's product roadmap, they're introducing features to compete with analysis workspace, with contribution analysis. So they're making it a more hardcore tool for the analysts.

What problem that presents is it's upsetting the marketers and you may have heard that, right? Like the marketers love their universal analytics because it's so simple. I can just drag and pull this report up in to them. It's less about doing analysis and doing more reporting and moving away from that is alienating the marketing crowd. But I think how's the opportunity to be more of a strong player in the enterprise space because it's talking more to analysts. So I think that's their drive more than some kind of deadline around privacy or cookies. It's really, we really finally are ready to compete at the enterprise level and we're eyeing Adobe as the major competitor in that space.

Mike Fong: (13:48)
And with Google, as you say, moving towards the enterprise space, and it becoming a more complicated tool that marketer's it will be less, you know, easy for marketers to use. Do you see other third parties coming in to take that kind of freemium space? Like Miitomo or something like that?

Jason Thompson: (14:04)
Oh, for sure. At least at the enterprise, so our customers tend to be multi-billion dollar global brands. So that's kind of the lens I'm looking at the world through. So just take that in mind as I kind of talk about my perspective. But for those brands, it's not uncommon to have a traditional analytics function that is running their platforms and to have other departments, typically marketing, running a completely different analytics practice on top of Google. And so if that no longer becomes an easy viable option for them, it does open up an opportunity for other players to step in and say, "Hey, marketer, we'll give you something that's easy to use." And we've seen that work before very well in the optimization space with Optimizely. So if you remember very early on, Optimizely eyed that space and said, we're going to be for the marketer, we're going to make it super simple for them to run AB tests. Unfortunately they were doing incredibly well and decided, eh, we're going to go at the hardcore tester and go at the enterprise space and they've been getting crushed and they sold out to private equity and are now owned by someone else. But if you can stay true to that course, there's a real opportunity for someone to step in and say, Hey, we're going to provide really simple, actionable analytics for the marketer. Absolutely. Someone's going to profit big there.

Cameron Cowan: (15:22)
Yeah. And before this announcement, I mean, the guidance was do them in parallel. Do GA4, to get it in place, but also do universal analytics still. And part of that was because it was such a big step change for them. They were changing the entire structure of the data. You couldn't compare historical trends over time. And now we're getting to the point where they're saying, okay, well maybe you can start to give some of that up. I'm just wondering is you mentioned the move toward more hardcore analytics and analysis rather than just basic reporting. Does this make the jump for people that have been traditionally Adobe customers, to now step over into the Google world? Because it's kind of, even if it's not a parody it's getting really close and so it makes that jump easier. Or do we see a full, the other way? Are people frustrated by this? Google was super easy now that it's not super easy, I might as well go with the premium player in the market. What, what are you seeing as far as shifting back or forth among your customer base?

Jason Thompson: (16:12)
Yeah, I mean, if you have background in kind of enterprise analytics, Adobe, others in the space, you're going to really like GA4. It makes much more sense. So universal analytics for what back at our time at Omniture based on top of Urchin it was a very web focus platform. This signals a fundamental change in GA4. It's no longer based on top of Urchin, and it's sitting on top of Firebase. It's a much more app-centric view. It's a much more event-driven view of analytics. So as an analyst, as someone that wants to build analytics that has a parody across platforms, if I want to look at mobile and web and app and other things, GA4 really gives me the opportunity to do that. So as someone coming from that realm, it's going to be much easier for me to adopt.

As far as kind of the recommendations, what we've been advising customers on is absolutely, run in parallel, but only do this if you're in the mindset of participating in a beta. I don't know what Google's officially saying, but GA4 is beta. And so if you want to participate in a beta and be an early adopter and give feedback, absolutely do it. But view it as a beta program because it's constantly changing, the UI is going through changes, there's bugs and new features were identified. But I think the biggest problem is there isn't a 360 version of GA4. So you're on the quote "free" version. There's no enterprise support, there's no SLA's, theres sampling. I think it makes it a very difficult call to say, we're going to switch over to it as our full enterprise platform, because it's just, it's not ready for it. It just isn't in my mind,

Cameron Cowan: (17:53)
I'm reading between the lines, you see some advantages of GA4, obviously, and it's moving in a good direction, but you're not willing to say go all in at this point.

Jason Thompson: (18:02)
No. No, for most of our clients, I'm not even recommending they parallel it because they just don't have the resources to participate in the beta. If they're more advanced mature clients, and we have the resourcing we're advising them to run in parallel because it's a good opportunity. And we see the same thing with Adobe, is Adobe comes out with their beta programs. We're advising our customers that have the maturity and bandwidth to do it, to participate because there's huge value in that. But I would give the same advice on an Adobe product in beta saying, you can't adopt this as your formal product. Again, just the changes alone makes it difficult to deploy this internally because you know, fine, you know, the analytics team, we're okay with changes, but if we're trying to get broad adoption of analytics and there's weekly massive changes to the UI and how data is processed, it's going to be very difficult to roll that out across a large organization. So yeah, view it as beta, participate in the program.

There's huge opportunity. I love the direction. I love the more event driven. We're big on getting away from web, being the driver and looking more at product analytics and app analytics as the drivers. So I think this is a great move for, for GA and not to mention again, a lot of the machine learning and modeling and things that are being built into it, the audience identification, I really love the, as an analyst, the integration with big query to be able to go in and really have access to that data from a query perspective. So there's a lot to like about it. Just, it's not, it's not production ready today.

Mike Fong: (19:38)
Teething problems, right? Yeah.

Jason Thompson: (19:40)
Yeah. So you need, as an organization, you need to ask yourself if you're ready to deal with those problems and be an early adopter. For most organizations, the answers should be no.

Mike Fong: (19:50)
And so what's your estimate? How long before GA4 is ready for primetime?

Jason Thompson: (19:57)
I would hedge my bet and say at least Q2, Q3 of next year. You know, we're probably a year out and again, my lens is enterprise businesses. They're slow adopters. And it's a lot to ask for them to change their paradigm. If it was ready, then it's still going to take a lot of time. You know, to ask a massive company that has multiple brands and properties to make the fundamental switch. And again, it's a switch. It's not like we're just slapping a new UI on it, under the hood it's a completely different platform, a different way of thinking about it, the way your properties and views are going away. So how that is all structured to change. So, you know, yes, it's a technology implementation change, but it's also a fundamental strategy on how we view traditional digital or web analytics. And so just that alone is going to take time. So, Google may get it early next year to a place where it's production, worthy, they have SLAs, they removed the sampling. That doesn't mean that businesses are going to be able to get it up and running. So I think we're probably a good year out until we start to see companies really start to look at it on their roadmap.

Cameron Cowan: (21:10)
Wow. Yeah. That's a great perspective. Now I'm just quick time check. I know that we could probably talk about this for another hour, which is great. Maybe we'll do that.

Mike Fong: (21:18)
You come into her office and we'll just shoot a breeze for like a day.

Cameron Cowan: (21:22)
But I do want to dive into this this cold war that's developing between between Facebook and Apple. Mike, you had some things queued up for that.

Mike Fong: (21:31)
Yeah, absolutely. So I guess the second topic that we wanted to discuss today is, how is Apple's changes the latest, not latest, in 14.5 iOS version. So I saw this in Forbes. So again, let me share my screen and we'll move along to the next of our topics.

Cameron Cowan: (21:56)
In 14.5. I came out in what about April or so?

Mike Fong: (21:58)
Yeah, May I think it was. So this article from Forbes, a few days ago, saying that Apple has struck a stunning success thanks to their app tracking transparency feature as part of 14.5 iOS. So Cameron, can you just explain for us what in practice happens on a user's iPhone as a result of ATT.

Cameron Cowan: (22:22)
Yeah, well after 14.5 rolled out, it was, and many of us that have iOS devices, we know that we continue to see the same message that pops up every time you download a new app or reinstall one carrier, right? Allow this app to track your activity across other companies, apps and websites. I was like, holy crap, no, I don't want to do that. They're going to track me everywhere I go. That's horrible. Really what they're saying is, do you want to have that IDFA still in place so they can monetize and understand the ROI of their advertising? Like, that's the core of it, but the way Apple is worded is so kind of scary and out there. And it's a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt they're putting in the minds of just average consumers, that I think, they originally projected I think it was 15%? It would drop down to 15% of people that would actually opt-in. And what they're seeing is single digit percentages. So it's even worse than what they had expected. I don't know. Jason, have you seen this impact, the trackability, or just kind of the way your customers, the way you interact with your clients, how they're measuring their mobile experiences?

Jason Thompson: (23:19)
Yeah, I mean, it's such a big question to unpack because it's impacting them on so many different levels, and really the teams that we're talking to it's impacting them in different ways. So a lot of these companies that have really gone all in, on Facebook ads being the driver of their acquisition channel, this is scary. And the fact that they can't clearly measure a lot of, and I can't remember the metric that you quoted or the percentage quoted, of people opting in versus opting out.

Cameron Cowan: (23:51)
Below 10% is what we're seeing in actuality.

Jason Thompson: (23:53)
But yeah, it's insane. And so really flying blind here, I'm putting a lot of trust in a platform that we maybe shouldn't trust to tell us how things are working is really scaring a lot of the companies that we're working with. And while they continue forward on that, I think one of the things that is really concerning to me is that vendors, agencies are looking to take advantage of this fear and really sell more products or services in to help kind of close this gap, or say, here's how you can manage this lack of visibility. And that always worries me, companies that are looking to capitalize on fear is a big concern for me, especially trying to look out for the good of our clients. It's something that we're seeing a lot of and trying to keep close tabs on.

Cameron Cowan: (24:42)
Yeah. And it's interesting that they're pitting Facebook against Apple. It's almost like it's two part, but this is affecting everyone in the ecosystem. There's a lot of systems that used IDFA and that are limited in their tracking. Is that the way people should be thinking about it or is this Facebook's problem first and foremost? And why is it so important to Facebook versus others?

Jason Thompson: (24:59)
Yeah, I mean, you're right. It impacts everybody from a story standpoint, it sure makes a nice story where it's Facebook versus Apple. And I think there's, there's probably a lot of history there that maybe we don't even understand, maybe some of it's personal, where it seems like some of these decisions that are being made seems like there's some personal vendettas that are being hashed out here in some of this, but it really is much broader than that and really impacts the entire ecosystem. So I guess in general, companies should be thinking more strategically about what their strategy is because, you know, we're not going to roll back these changes, these things are going to happen. And we need to think strategically about how we're going to be creative and pivot.

And I don't want to go down a huge tangent here, but Cameron, you and I probably remember from times back at Omniture, where there were several things that happened, whether it was, cookies was a big thing. I remember like there was this big "OH NO cookies are going to go away, we're not going to be able to track or understand anything!" And what we've learned is that the companies and people get really creative and are able to pivot to really get the data and insights they need. So I think that's going to be no different than this case, but specifically why this matters to Facebook. Facebook is in a really interesting space where you know, the massive revenue stream that they're bringing up billions of dollars a year in ad revenue is at risk for them. And I think they're panicking a bit. And the reason why this is kind of so personal and why we're focusing on the Facebook and Apple kind of dynamic here is that Facebook is reliant on them.

Cameron Cowan: (26:42)
They don't control it either, they're not a platform in and of themselves. They reliant on somebody else's Browser and somebody else's devices, and I'm sure that plays into it, doesn't it?

Jason Thompson: (26:51)
Absolutely. And that's where, if you think back to what was in 2013, when Facebook tried to launch their own mobile device and it spectacularly failed their path was kind of sealed then, and that they're really dependent on someone else's platform to make this work. And that's why the decisions that Apple is making is having such an impact on Facebook is because they're reliant, you know. Apple is the dominant player in the mobile space. And we see that pumping up the safari usage numbers because of that. And you know, we talked about how scary that warning is that Apple puts out there. It says, by the way, these people are going to track you across the entire internet. It's scary, it's impacting, and Facebook sees their bottom line at risk here. And they don't have the ability to fully control it. And that's a much different narrative than if we're talking about Apple or Google because they've smartly, right or wrongly positioned themselves to own the entire ecosystem.

Mike Fong: (27:53)
That's interesting. Isn't it? Because, Jason Apple own the hardware that they sell to customers. And so they can exert that level of control, but Google do not own or build the devices, the Android phones, right? So, is that a difference, is that why Google, like, even if Google wanted to, they wouldn't be able to exert that level of control over Facebook's business?

Jason Thompson: (28:18)
Well, yes and no. Because while they may not have as strong as a play on the hardware side, they have an incredibly strong play on the services that all of us use. And if you think about it, whether it's YouTube, it's Gmail, it's Surge, they have such a broad, the top platforms that all of us use on a daily basis. A good component of that is made up by Google. And so while they may not be able to own the hardware ecosystem, the flexing that they can do on the services that we use is massive. And that's why they've been able to kind of create their own walled garden, and being able to create their own ecosystem is we're so dependent on so many services that Google offers.

Cameron Cowan: (29:00)
Yeah, Google still owns the browser, they still own the second half of the app store and app experience and ecosystem. So yeah, they're the unnamed third-party behind that headline for sure. And I think it's not just a cold war between two properties. It's at least between those three and it really then has a massive trickle down effect to everyone else in the space. Especially when you look at tracking from a third party perspective. And I think that's where I kind of wanted to end off today. Obviously this has a huge impact on your ability to track ads, and ad experiences across properties, across apps, across websites. But when you're talking to your clients and just in general, what's the advice you should be giving as far as moving away from reliance on third party data and building those really tight first party connections and collecting data and experiences that way.

Jason Thompson: (29:45)
I mean, to me, that's where it's at. And I understand the desire to see the full funnel, to see from a view through, to a click, to an on the site and the we're missing kind of all of that top of the funnel interconnected data. But in that conversation, we lose the value of what your site guests, your app users are giving you freely. And that's their experience with your products with your platforms. That, to me, is where the true value lies. And not to say that other data isn't valuable, but the fact that this behavioral data that users are freely giving you as lost in the conversation is really where I think companies need to focus. And it's the advice that we're giving to companies. And while there may be ways that we need to think about that top of funnel and acquisition costs and how that all plays into it, we don't want to lose focus on the fact that we have all of this incredibly rich data that is ours, of how people are interacting with our digital properties. There's so much untapped potential there that to lose sight of that really is a losing game. And so rather than get freaked out and say, we can't do anything let's double down on the data and the things that we can do. And that's understanding the experiences that our customers are having with our brand.

Cameron Cowan: (31:00)
Yeah, I think you're spot on it's, it's one thing to say, well, I'm trying as hard as I can to get these quickly diminishing signals from third parties and what you may or may not have been exposed to from an advertising ecosystem, let's focus on what are they actually doing when they're engaged with your brand and what they're willing to tell you, additionally, because you're offering a very clear and compelling value exchange. You're spot on. Before we move completely away from the topic of Facebook, Mike, you had brought this up there there's one piece hot off the press on this?

Mike Fong: (31:29)
It is hot off the press, this was not even originally a scheduled topic we were going to talk about, but well this happen yesterday, last night. So on, and let me share my screen again, let me just make sure that our audience are able to see this with their own, you know, see the resource. So, in an interview of the verge.com yesterday. Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was planning to announce a complete rebrand for Facebook. So it looks like they are planning to move away from this you know, being the first social media, or not the first, one of the first giant social media networks, they've been around for 15 years and the Facebook they're going to be renamed to the renamed themselves apparently to a metaverse. So what are your thoughts on that?

Cameron Cowan: (32:17)
Geez, I don't know if that's the name. If they go to the full on the Oasis, I'm going to lose my mind because I don't know that we're there yet, but I mean, you think about what they're doing when they acquired the Oculus technology, getting people beyond just social networking on a browser, in an app to immersive experiences. I can definitely see Zuckerberg intention to go that direction. I don't know, Jason, are you seeing the same way?

Jason Thompson: (32:39)
I see it from different perspectives. For me, it seems like a diversionary tactic in that there's a lot of mistrust. There's a lot of doubt in Facebook. We've seen issues with them, whether it's mishandling of user data, we had the whistle blower come out recently. We've had a lot of negativity impacting that brand. And I don't think Mark Zuckerberg thinks that renaming it is going to make that go away, people don't forget that. But I do think it's kind of a diversionary tactic because these things are being picked up by Apple. You know, Apple is seeing this as like, man Facebook, you're making it so easy for us to attack you and then kind of put position us in a, in a better light. So man, it'll be interesting to see how it plays out, but I don't know if we've ever seen a major overhaul or rebrand really have the impact that the brands really want it to have.

Cameron Cowan: (33:35)
Especially not of a brand this big, this well-made. I get Facebook comes with a lot of mental baggage, both for good and bad for most people. But yeah, now that you mention it causing a little bit of misdirection in a heated time for them, that's probably the best thing their PR team could do right now.

Jason Thompson: (33:50)
Yeah, for sure.

Mike Fong: (33:51)
As long as mark Zuckerberg is associated with the company, as long as he, you know, has a 51% or whatever it is, vetoing share, I think he's always, people are always going to have those negative connotations and they could call themselves spikey hedgehog for all I care, still, when you see Zuckerberg's face, you're going to think Facebook and then all that negative press comes back. Right?

Jason Thompson: (34:16)
For sure. I mean, with the existing user base, for sure. And maybe the, one of the things that he's thinking about is losing the younger kids, the younger generations going maybe to different platforms. So maybe it's also a play to rebrand reposition for that, because right now, yeah, it's, you know, us older guys are kind of having that conversation. We're not going to forget, but how quickly are the younger generations adopting these platforms? It doesn't seem at the rate that it was before and that probably is scaring them as well.

Cameron Cowan: (34:45)
Facebook is no longer just Facebook, just like the evolution of Google going from a single search engine to all the many properties they have and now they're part-of alphabet. I think we could see something similar where there's a broader umbrella that Facebook decides to throw over all the other properties.

Jason Thompson: (34:59)
For sure.

Mike Fong: (34:59)
I do see a parallel between Google kind of changing the way their organization is structured, you know, renaming this alphabet and somehow instantly gaining value on the stock market. I can see Facebook doing the same thing and splinting out some different business units building a few more bases around the world because we also see kind of these digital tax policies coming out in EU as well. So it might also be a way to diversify where their organization is actually held legally, and gained value that way as well.

Jason Thompson: (35:33)
Yeah, for sure. So two things absolutely on that front it's, it's something I think that they're, they're probably thinking about because Wall Street for public companies is the driver, is the motivator for public companies. But two, I think the writing is on the wall with the, I can't remember how many states attorneys generals joined the lawsuit against Google for their antitrust violations. You know, Facebook is probably squarely in that same camp and maybe they're getting some intelligence for what's playing out against Google that they want to maybe diversify and protect against that, as well. So who, who knows to be a fly on the wall in some of those executive meetings on the whys and the hows they're making some of these decisions would be interesting. And I get it's kind of easy for us to play Monday Morning Quarterback and guess at some of these things is as well, but it's what we do and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. But I think Facebook has a real uphill battle in front of them. Others are pretty bullish on Facebook still, they're a giant. And if anything, with giant companies, it's hard for them to go away overnight. You know, that even if they do start to really flounder, they have so much runway they can coast for a long, long time.

Cameron Cowan: (36:46)
That's right. Yeah. Well, as a fan of Ready Player 1, as long as they push us closer to that metaverse I think I'm looking forward to seeing how it shapes up.

Mike Fong: (36:54)
I'm not looking forward to that Cameron and the idea of getting home from work, putting on my Oculus rift, and then going to work.

Cameron Cowan: (37:01)
I think, no matter how you're not going to get home from work, you're going to go work in the metaverse and that's where you're going to live. Go deeper.

Mike Fong: (37:10)
Okay. So, on that note, I think we're, we're getting close to the end of our time. So just a few announcements from ObservePoint. So just one actually. So coming up in November, Our annual web conference validate that's just over two weeks away. So we'd love for all of our audience today to join us. It's free to register so you can learn more at validate.observepoint.com. That's it from from me Jason, any parting thoughts from you?

Jason Thompson: (37:40)
Well, first of all, I appreciate you guys inviting me and I hope you have me back. This has been an incredibly, a fun conversation, hopefully valuable for, for the people that are watching as well. We've, we've hit on some good points. I think the biggest takeaway for me is, and this isn't anything new, but there's a lot of fun. I think Cameron brought it up. There's a lot of fun on the market, in the marketplace right now. And the worst thing that people can do is make rash decisions based on that fear. So, you know, take a step back. A lot of this stuff we're doing, we don't have to solve right this minute, give yourself some time, get educated, think about some of these topics that we brought up today, and formulate a position, and formulate a strategy. And that way you're going to be better positioned to have conversations as you're going, if your inboxes aren't already overloaded with people wanting to sell you products and services to address a lot of these issues we've talked about, whether it's migrating to GA4, or dealing with inability to track ads on Facebook. I guarantee you're going to be hit up with people selling you things that are going to fix that. Take the time to educate yourself. It's going to make those conversations a lot more healthy for sure.

Mike Fong: (38:46)
Don't panic

Jason Thompson: (38:47)
Panic is never good.

Mike Fong: (38:50)
Great. Well, Jason, thank you very much, Cameron, anything from you?

Cameron Cowan: (38:53)
I'm just going to agree with everything Jason said, including we absolutely want to have you back. It's been great to have you on reconnect, and looking forward to seeing you in a future episode of DataChat Live.

Jason Thompson: (39:04)

Mike Fong: (39:05)
Thank you very much, everyone.

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