Provalytics CEO Talks Multi-Touch Attribution on Friday Fireside

Provalytics CEO recently sat down for an interview on the popular podcast, Friday Fireside, to discuss the company’s journey and the future of attribution technology. In this article, we recap the key insights and perspectives shared by the CEO during the interview and provide a glimpse into the exciting developments in the world of attribution.

Televisionation: Friday Fireside, the #1 television industry Webcast, features Rick Howe, The iTV Doctor, in conversation with prominent figures from the advanced-TV/video industry.

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Today’s guest on The Friday Fireside is Jeff Greenfield, CEO of Provalytics. Provalytics unifies all media, including walled gardens, CTV, TV, OOH, radio, direct mail, and print, providing deduplicated, privacy-compliant reporting which includes synergies, carryover, ad stock and consumer sentiment, and separates incrementality from the baseline. With an extensive advanced advertising background at WideOrbit, C3 Metrics and 1st Approach, Jeff is truly prepared to help his expanding list of customers to fix what’s broken!

Rick Howe: Good morning. This is the Friday Fireside, and we are here with Jeff Greenfield. He is CEO of Provalytics. Jeff, how are you?

Jeff Greenfield: I’m doing wonderful Rick and excited to be here today.

Rick Howe: That’s terrific. And you are joining us from?

Jeff Greenfield: Someplace in New Hampshire, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New Hampshire is not known for its coastline. We have 16 miles of it and, and that’s where we are right over the border from Maine about an hour north of Boston. Beautiful, beautiful area.

Rick Howe: Cool, man. All right. So. Prior to, getting Provalytics started. You were at WideOrbit and for a very long time, you were at C3 Metrics. Tell us what Provalytics is, which by the way happens to be a company named you should be congratulated for this, that I could easily spell hearing it only once. There aren’t many trade names in this business that you could do that with.

Jeff Greenfield: The kudos for that goes to my wife, Cheryl. She was the one that came up with it. I’m excited. She will love to hear that. Rick.

Jeff Greenfield: Provalytics is answering the questions that marketers have as the atmosphere gets a lot worse in terms of measurement. We’re at this point where, we shifted, if you go back 12 years ago, as multitouch attribution came to be, people shifted away from marketing mix modeling to MTA, that idea of building out the user journey, collecting as much data as possible.

And you have entire companies and brands that are all set on using user level data. And now back in those early days, there were holes, back in the early, early days, we had tags up at Facebook even. But the walls came up, and we were able to build out probabilistic methodologies for that. Since most of the data we were collecting was deterministic.

Well now because of the Apple IOS changes and the upcoming cookie apocalypse, the Apple relay with IP addresses. And now just announced, about a week or two ago, Firefox is now going to be stripping all the URL parameters, which prevents any tracker from working even a Google analytics.

And add to all this, we’re also at this crazy pivot point with Google Analytics. Google analytics is forcing everyone to shift over to GA 4. So, every brand in the world right now is in the midst of having to transition over. So, the question becomes, now there’s more holes in this deterministic journey. So, what are we supposed to do?

And if we look back to the world of marketing mix modeling, marketing mix modeling has always been able to look at all these channels, put together. But the problem with marketing mix modeling is it just provides you this point in time measurement, unlike attribution, which is always on, and it did it, but it did it without having to deal with privacy concerns.

And so, the future of measurement is essentially the venn diagram, if you will, of marketing mix modeling and multitouch attribution – taking the best of both worlds and putting them together. We’re talking about, aggregated data being collected, being able to look at multiple KPIs across your total media portfolio, with the sole purpose of not telling you how you did in the past. But telling you, this is the best place to spend your next marketing dollar today. And that’s really the key of what Provalytics is all about.

Rick Howe: All right. So here, so here’s the question through all of that and you, and you gave a mouthful, can anybody understand all that?

Jeff Greenfield: Well, what people can really understand is that the way that they’ve been going about buying media and targeting and measuring is about to make a drastic shift, within the next 8 to 12 months with all these changes.
So that’s the big thing, things are not going to stay the same way they are now. That’s why if you start looking online, a lot of ad networks are talking about cookie-less tracking. In reality, what’s happened is that digital has taken a step back in terms of their capabilities.

At the same time, we see that TV, because of the advent of OTT and CTV has become digitized and has now come to the forefront. But even OTT, CTV tracking that we used to be able to do, where we would match IP addresses in the digital realm. That’s on its way out as well, too. What I’m here to tell everyone, is that the way that we’ve done business up to this point is about to change.

And those of you who are listening, who are running right now, GA and GA 4, and you’re looking at the differences between the two, you see that there’s some differences there. So, things are going to be different starting next year, drastically for those who are not prepared.

Rick Howe: All right. So let’s talk about things getting different. The real big news, of course in advertising is Netflix. Finally doing what everybody, including myself, thought they needed to do quite some time ago, cause they’re going to run out of cash. They chose Microsoft. And I am one of those who believes that Microsoft has not had a happy relationship with television in the past.

They’ve usually been way off target. They’ve been doing a lot of advertising work. They recently acquired Xandr. What does Netflix and Microsoft do to address the changes, or do you think that that partnership with Microsoft actually is how they address the changes on how, how advertising is going to be bought?

Jeff Greenfield: To go back a little bit, Netflix, even if they did have a lot of cash, the hours of viewing increased, eventually they were going to be spending more money. And Wall Street, as Netflix is a publicly traded company, they always want more. They want the numbers to go up into the right.

We all knew that advertising, they were going to have to monetize the viewing hours somehow, some way. I think that when you look at the other potentials that were out there and, and predominantly was probably Google. Google’s got a lot of issues attached to it, like Facebook because they’ve got these multitude of different properties.

And there’s a question of where that data actually goes and lives. Microsoft has been slow moving, but really super smart. Not only do they acquire Xandr, and they waited until it was a bargain, but they also acquired LinkedIn. And don’t forget, they also own Bing, it’s not used as much, but when you combine the usage of Bing with LinkedIn and all of these things and they separate them, they’re completely segregated within the company. Microsoft comes off as a much more sturdier secure partner than does a Google.

Rick Howe: Really?

Jeff Greenfield: Yeah, I definitely think that. You’ve seen a lot of companies that have moved over to G suite, the Google equivalent of Word and email. But most of the larger enterprise companies are still using Microsoft office and I’m an Office user and I admit five years ago, it wasn’t that great, and Teams is buggy as hell, but it’s gotten better. Just the ability and the way it combines into Azure.
I see Microsoft as a much sturdier, smarter choice. It will allow them to move forward, and not have any concerns about privacy or where their data is going to go because Microsoft, they don’t have a product for that, at least not yet.

Rick Howe: And that was the thing. When we were talking before we got started,there was a rumble I saw this morning that Alphabet might actually, spin off the Google ad business. I had thought when Netflix was shopping and they were talking to Alphabet and they were talking to NBC, they were even talking to Roku, and then Microsoft. I felt that if Netflix went with Google, the Google machine would get into all that delicious Netflix subscriber data and that it wouldn’t end well for Netflix.

Maybe Netflix saw the same thing, which is why they went to Microsoft. If Alphabet spins off the Google ad business and the “machine” isn’t there, literally lurking in the background. Is that good for the Google ad business? Is that good for all of us?

Jeff Greenfield: I think it’s good for the Google ad business. I especially think it’s good for Alphabet. I said this earlier, that Alphabet is similar to Facebook. They have these multitude of properties. Where they’re sharing data across them. And that’s only going to lead to problems in this privacy centric world.

All these changes that are going on, especially with the browsers and with all these properties, it’s going to lead to problems when they separate out their different pieces of the business and there’s no data sharing except through like a clean room environment, which is acceptable these days. Then they’re much safer and I think everyone else is better off, because you can be assured that the data’s not going elsewhere.

Rick Howe: I made some notes. You have been quoted and the Hollywood reporter, the LA Times, Bloomberg TV, Brand Week, and a bunch of other. And now of course, Friday Fireside. So, I’m honored to have you here.

With all of that, that’s going on, can you give our audience, and our audience is, brands, distributors, folks with the ad inventory on the sell side, a lot of folks on the buy side and a ton of ad tech and a smattering of investors, Talk to us about the remainder of 2022 and 2023. What should people be focused on right now?

Jeff Greenfield: People should be focused on spending at the top of the funnel.

Rick Howe: Really?

Jeff Greenfield: Oh, a thousand percent. In fact, I’ll recommend to everyone right here who’s listening. This is probably the best book on marketing that’s available today. “Lemon, How The Advertising Brain Turned Sour” by Orlando Wood. And it’s a phenomenal book because it’s only five chapters. What I recommend to people is they read one chapter a night and then discuss it with someone who’s not in the business at all. From our side of the business, the best part is right at the beginning of the book. There’s two graphs and there’s one graph that’s going down and one graph that’s going up. The graph that’s going up, started going up in 2006, and that’s the rise of what they call “short termism”, bottom of the funnel buying, which is essentially what most, if not all of digital is.

Rick Howe: And get as get as close to the transaction, as you can, basically an influencer.

Jeff Greenfield: That’s exactly right. So that’s the graph. That’s going up. The graph that’s going down is at ad effectiveness. And that’s because if your funnel is shorter, you have fewer people in it. And that means that your ads have to work twice as hard and you’re affecting much fewer people. Your reach is lower. And so, my recommendation is based upon all the research I’ve seen is that.

Brands that start to think in terms of emotion, which is not, you don’t see that today in ads on TV or in digital, it’s all fast-moving stuff, all to satisfy the TikTok era. And the key here is that if you’re a brand, you want to do something that’s different. Think like what Apple did with their ad, you want to do something that’s completely different.

If you focus in on emotion and on brand building, your return is going to be at least one and a half to two times greater than any bottom of the funnel buying that you’re going to do. That would be my recommendation as we turn the corner on this year.

Rick Howe: Sound like you’re a fan of storytelling on television.

Jeff Greenfield: Absolutely. Listen. I’m a sucker for any Fantasy Island or Love Boat.

Rick Howe: But I mean storytelling and the advertising. That’s what we know how to do as an industry. Right?

Jeff Greenfield: But we’ve gotten away from it. Yeah, we have, we got stuck in by the excitement of data in these user journeys. We believed that there’s more information in all that detail, the concept that data is the new oil. And I’m here to tell you to borrow from the movie world. It’s time to pan back. You have to take a bigger perspective. And that’s what Provalytics is all about, looking at things from not the top down, but the middle out, because when we’re focused in so deep, we can’t see the forest for the trees. And that’s what has happened with brands and with brand building over the last decade.

Rick Howe: I just want to know your opinion. I’m not even sure the concept of funnel works anymore. Fact of the matter is, when it comes to advertising and media, I, lift my head above the top of the foxhole and it’s like, I’m getting attacked by every yellow jacket in three continents. How can the funnel leading down to some kind, how can that even exist anymore?

Jeff Greenfield: The funnel they say is more of like a circle these days, because of the social media and the feedback loop. I still like looking at it as a funnel because it’s easy for me to explain to clients, which is you have to spend at the top to kind of open it up and get new people in. And then, you know, a percentage are going to actually drip through. But you are right about one thing, which is that there is a massive number of ads that we’re exposed to, especially in the digital realm these days.

So one of the thing that brands should start to think about is if you are a New York agency or a New York brand, or if you’re an LA agency or an LA. Start looking at some of the media plans that they put together in middle America. Those plans are very well rounded. They’ve got crazy things in them, like direct mail, OOH, things that, most plans that I see don’t have. It’s absolutely incredible.

And that’s because people plan for themselves. Oh, I don’t have cable, so we’re not going to buy TV. Oh, I don’t look at my mail. I don’t even get mail. And the reality is, , direct mail kills. OOH kills. You just need to accept the idea that you’re going to hit everyone over the head during that digital journey is just crazy.
You want to hit people at different places. How about when they’re at the gas pump? Imagine with these videos that they’ve got at the gas pump, people are really upset because of the gas prices. If a brand were to come out with a cute little 15-second vignette, that’d be a great way to get attention.

Rick Howe: I was having a conversation with my client at Centrify when we did a Fireside with him, we talk about ‘four walling’. Remember four walling on movie premieres? On a Wednesday or Thursday night, you couldn’t go anywhere and you wouldn’t see the ad for the Godfather. Okay. Period.

That was it or anything. I think that, I mean, right now you’ll almost see four walling in politics, except that it’s about, 156 walling. I think that is still a communication strategy anywhere you turn. There’s your message. I think that still works. It can be hard to execute, if you try to keep it on for way too long, it can be expensive, but you want to get a message home and have the consumer go: Oh, Wow. I see that. That’s kind of the way to go, isn’t it?

Jeff Greenfield: It totally is. In fact, if you remember in the digital realm, the days of the homepage takeovers on Yahoo. We don’t see those as much at all, but I think as Netflix moves forward with Microsoft and gets their ad product up since essentially local theaters are not really in e existence much these days. It will be interesting to see if four walling comes back because one of the premier positions for anyone was in the pre-roll before the film, as people are sitting there waiting for it. That’s going to become incredibly valuable as Netflix move forward.

Rick Howe: Well, speaking of that, by the way, and we are about done, but I just want to give kudos to the folks at Peacock and got friends up there. As a Peacock subscriber, I did get an offer for a free Fandango, Comcast family, movie coupon, actually avoucher for $15. So, my wife and I are going to go see Thor, which probably isn’t the best movie, but it’s big and it’s flahshy. And essentially that got us two IMAX tickets to go see Thor tonight. So, kudos to Peacock on tying some of the pieces together of their product mix.

Jeff Greenfield: It’s super smart. More brands need to do efforts just like like.

Rick Howe: Yeah. And Disney does a bit, they could do an awful lot more, but they do a bit.  Well, listen, we’re out of time. Jeff Greenfield. Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

Jeff Greenfield: Well, thank you so much, Rick. I’m honored to finally make my first Friday Fireside.

Rick Howe: There you go, bud. And I will say to all my friends that I do when we sign off, just be nice to each.

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