Guest Appearance on Digging Deeper With Jason Falls

I had a chance to sit down with Jason Falls to chat about analytics, data science, and AI. Catch up with us over 35 minutes as we talk about what goes wrong with influencer marketing, why marketers should be cautious with AI, and the top mistake everyone makes with Google Analytics.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Jason Falls
Alright, enough of me babbling. Christopher Penn is here he might be one of the more recognizable voices in the digital marketing world because he and his pal, John Wall are the two you hear on the marketing over coffee podcast. I think that’s in its 14th year. Chris was also one of the cofounders of PodCamp way back before podcasting new wave, which by the way, is actually in its second wave, major wave anyway. He’s also known far and wide for being an analytics and data science guru. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Chris a number of times over the years and it’s always fun to chat because I come out feeling both overwhelmed with with how much more he knows than me, but also a lot smarter for the experience, Chris, good morning. How are you?

Christopher Penn
I get you know, I’m I’m fine. No one I know is currently in the hospital or morgue. So it’s all good. That’s great.

Jason Falls
So I want to bring people up to speed on how you got to be the analytics ninja you are we can save that real ninja thing for another time. Because for those of you don’t know he is an actual ninja. It’s not just something I throw out there like he’s trained or something I don’t know. But it’s all we’re here to talk about. So, you got your start though in the digital marketing world, I think in the education space, right. Give us that backstory.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, very briefly, education financial services. I joined a start up in 2003, where I was the CIO, the CTO and the guy who cleaned the restroom on Fridays. It was a student loan company and my first foray into digital marketing I was I came in as a technologist to run the web server for an email server and update the website update the web server became update the website you know, fix the email server became send the email newsletter and over the span of seven I basically made the transition into what we now call marketing technology was it had no name back then. And part of that was obviously reporting on what we did, you know, those who have a lot more gray in their hair. Were in the space at the time remember a tool called AWS stats where you had to, you had to manually pull logs from the server and, and render to terrible looking charts. But all that changed in 2005, when a company called Google bought a company called urgent and then rebranded and gave it away as a tool called Google Analytics. And that was the beginning of my analytics journey and has been pretty much doing that ever since in some form, or fashion, because everybody likes to know the results of their work.

Jason Falls
So take me a little bit further back than that though. You entered this startup in 2003, as you know, technologist, but take me back to like, Where did you get your love for analytics data computers, because you and I grew up at roughly about the same time and I didn’t really have access To a lot of computer technology until I was at least probably junior high. So there had to have been some moment in your childhood where you were like,

Ooh, I like doing that what or to come from?

Christopher Penn
That would be when I was seven years old, our family got one of the apple two plus computers that horrendous Bayesian like chocolate brown computer, you know, the super clicky keyboard and the screen screen, two colors black and green. And as of that point, when I realized I really like these things, and more importantly, I could make them do what I wanted them to do.

Jason Falls
So it’s all about control, right?

Christopher Penn
It really is. You know, I was a small kid in school, I got picked on a lot, but I found that information gave me control over myself and more importantly, gave me control over other people. When I was in seventh grade, our school got an apple, two GS in the computer lab, one of many, and the school’s database was actually stored on one of those little three and a half inch floppies. So I at recess one day I went to the lab made a copy of it. took it home because I had the same computer at home. And that was a complete record of 300 students, their grades, their social security number, their medical history, everything because nobody thought of cybersecurity back then, like who in the hell would want this information to begin with? Well, it turns out a curious seventh grader, and just be able to understand that this is what a database is, this is what it does. These are all the threads, I call them that that make up the tapestry of your life. You see them very early on, they just keep showing up over and over again. You know, whenever I talk to younger folks these days and say, like I don’t want I want to do for for my career, like look back at your past, there are threads that are common throughout your history. If you find them, if you look through them, you’ll probably get a sense of what it is that you are meant to be doing.

Jason Falls
So cybersecurity is your fault that we’ve learned. And so I take it you would probably credit maybe your parents for keeping you from taking that data and like stealing everyone’s identity. And, you know, being being a criminal or not. Right?

Christopher Penn
Well, so again, back then, it was so new that nobody thought, Oh, how can you misuse this data, there really wasn’t an application for it right? Back then there was no internet that was publicly accessible. So it’s not like a contact, you know, Vladimir, the Russian identity broker and sell them off for seven bucks apiece. You couldn’t do that back then. So it was more just a curiosity. Now, you know, kids growing up today are like, in a much different world than than we were where that information is even more readily available, but it also has much greater consequences.

Jason Falls
All right, I’m gonna jump over to the comments already because our friend hustling main has jumped in with a good one. Right off the bat. What are but what is his animal what’s what are people’s biggest analytics mistake Google Analytics or other? What should everyone do to set up at a minimum analytics wise is Google Analytics where you start or How would you advise someone who doesn’t know anything about analytics to set up? And what a mistake do people most often make with analytics?

Christopher Penn
The one they most often make is they start data puking. That’s something that Avinash Kaushik says a lot, but I love the expression and it is you get in Google Analytics there are and I counted 510 different dimensions and metrics, you have access to four for the average business, you’re probably going to need five of them, you know, that there’s like three to five you should really pay attention to and they’re different per business. So the number one thing that people do wrong, and that is the starting point, I was talking with my partner and co founder, Katie robear, about this yesterday. Take a sheet of paper, right? You don’t need anything fancy. What are the business goals and measures you care about? And you start writing them from the bottom of the operations follow to the top? And then you ask yourself, well, checkbox. Can I measure this in Google Analytics? Yes or no? So like for a b2b company sales, can I measure that analytics? No, you can’t. Can I measure opportunities? deals? Probably not. No. Can I measure leads? Yes. Okay. Great. That’s where you’re going. analytics journey starts because the first thing you can measure is what goes in Google Analytics. And then you know, you fill in the blanks for the for the rest. If you do that, then it brings incredible clarity to this is what is actually important. That’s what you should be measuring, as opposed to here’s just a bunch of data. When you look at the average dashboard that like that, like, you know, every marketing and PR and ad agency puts together, they throw a bunch of crap on there. It’s like, oh, here’s all these things and impressions and hits and engagements like Yeah, but what does that have to do with like, something that I can take to the bank or get close to taking into the bank? If you focus on the the your operations funnel and figure out where do I map this to, then your dashboards have a lot more meaning? And by the way, it’s a heck of a lot easier to explain it to a stakeholder, when you say you generated 40% more leads this month, rather than get 500 new impressions and 48 new followers on Twitter and 15% engagement and they’re like, what does that mean? But they go I know what leads are? Yep,

Jason Falls
that’s true. And just to clarify, folks To translate here, probably the smartest man in the world just gave you advice that I always give people, which is keep it simple, stupid. Like, yeah, drill it down. And I say keep it simple, stupid so that I understand it. That’s that’s my goal and saying that phrase. But if you boil it down to the three or four things that matter, well, that’s what matters.

Christopher Penn
Yeah. Now, if you want to get fancy,

Unknown Speaker
Oh, here we go.

Christopher Penn
Exactly. If you want to get fancy, you don’t have to necessarily do that. There are tools and software that will take all the data that you have, assuming that it’s in an orderly format, and run that analysis for you. Because sometimes you’ll get I hate the word because it’s so overused, but you will, it does actually, there are synergies within your data. There are things that combined together have a greater impact than individually apart. The example I usually give is like if you take your email open rates and your social media engagement rates, you may find that those things together may generate a better lead generation rate. Then either one alone, you can’t see that you and I cannot see that in the data. It’s just, you know that much data that much math, it’s not that something our brains can do. But software can do that particularly. There’s one package I love using called IBM Watson Studio. And in there, there’s a tool called auto AI, and you give it your data, and it does its best to basically build you a model saying, This is what we think are the things that go together best. It’s kind of like, you know, cooking ingredients, like it automatically figures out what combination of ingredients go best together. And when you have that, then suddenly your dashboards start to really change because you’re like, Okay, we need to keep an eye on these, even though this may not be an intuitive number, because it’s a major participant and that number you do care about.

Unknown Speaker
Very nice.

Jason Falls
One of the many awesome things about that the marketing world not just me, but the marketing world loves about you is how willing you are to answer people’s questions. In fact, that’s basically your blog. Now your whole series of you ask I answer is almost all of what you post these days, but it’s really simple to do that. You have an area of expertise, right? People ask you questions, your answers are great blog content. Has anyone ever stumped you?

Christopher Penn
Oh, yeah, people stopped me all the time. People stopped me because they have questions that where there isn’t nearly enough data to answer the question well, or there’s a problem that is challenging. I feel like you know, what, I don’t actually know how to solve that particular problem. Or it’s an area where there’s so much specialization that I don’t know enough. So one area that, for example, I know not nearly enough about is the intricacies of Facebook advertising, right. There are so many tips and tricks, I was chatting with my friend and hopeless you who runs social Squibb, which is a Facebook ads agency, and I have a saint, right, like, I’m running this campaign. I’m just not seeing the results. Like, can you take a look at it, we barter back and forth. Every now and again. I’ll help her with like tag management analytics, and she’ll help me with Facebook ads, she opens a campaign looks it goes, Well, that’s wrong. That’s wrong. That’s wrong. fix these things. Turn this up, turn that off. Like Two minutes later, the campaign is running the next day later, it has a some of the best results I’ve ever gotten on Facebook. I did not know that I was completely stumped by the software itself. But the really smart people in business and in the world, have a guild advisory councils, a close knit group of friends something with different expertise, so that every time you need, like, I need somebody who’s creative, I’ll go to this person, I need somebody who knows Facebook as I’ll go to this person. If you don’t have that, make that one of the things you do this year, particularly now, this time of year, where you’re sitting at home in a pandemic. Hopefully, you’re wearing a mask when you’re not. And you have the opportunity to network with and reach out to people that you might not have access to otherwise, right because everyone used to be like in conference rooms and it means all day long. And now we’re all just kind of hanging out on video chat going out why don’t go do with it. That’s a great opportunity to network and get to know people in a way that is much lower pressure, especially for people who, you know, were crunched on time, they can fit 15 minutes in for a zoom call, you might be able to build a relationship that really is mutually beneficial.

Jason Falls
The biggest takeaway from this show today, folks, we’ll be Crispin gets stumped. Okay? I don’t feel so bad. So that’s,

Christopher Penn
that’s, that’s good. If you’re not stumped, you’re doing it wrong. That’s a good point. If you’re not stumped, you’re not learning. I am stumped. Every single day, I was working on a piece of client code just before we signed on here. And I’m going I don’t know what the hell is wrong with this thing. But there’s something erroring out, you know, like in line 700 of the code. I gotta go fix that later. But it’s good. It’s good because it tells me that I am not bored and that I have not stagnated. If you are not stumped, you are stagnated and your career is in trouble.

Jason Falls
There you go. So you are the person that I typically turn to to ask measurement analytics questions. So you You’re You’re my guild council member of that. And so I want to turn around a scenario, something that I would probably laugh at you, for other people as a hypothetical here, just so that they can sort of apply. here’s, here’s, you know, what Crispin thinks about this, or this is a way that he would approach this problem. And I don’t know that you’ve ever solved this problem, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway, and try to stump you maybe a little bit here on the show. So on on this show, we try to zero in on creativity, but advertising creative, whether campaigns or individual elements are kind of vague, or at least speculative in terms of judging which creative is, let’s say, more impactful or more successful. And the reason I say that is you have images, you have videos, you have graphics, you have copy, a lot of different factors go into it, but you also have distribution placement, targeting all these other factors that are outside of the creative itself, that affect performance. So so much goes into a campaign campaign being successful. I think it’s hard to judge the creative itself. So if I were to challenge you to help cornet or any other agency or any other marketer out there that has creative content, images, videos, graphics, copy, whatever. So, put some analytics or data in place to maybe compare and contrast creative, not execution, just the creative. Where would you start with that?

Christopher Penn
You can’t just do couplet because it literally is all the same thing. If you think back to Bob stones, 1968 direct marketing framework, right? lists offer creative in that order. The things that mattered you have the right list is already in our modern times the right audience. Do you have the right offer that appeals to that audience right if we have a bourbon, bourbon crowd, right, a bourbon audience, and then my offer is for light beer. That’s not going to go real well? Well, depending on the light beer, I guess, but if it’s, you know, it’s something that I really had to swear in this show are now Sure. In 1976 Monty Python joke American beers like sex of the canoe, it’s fucking close to water. You have that compared to the list, and you know, that’s gonna be a mismatch, right? So those two things are important. And then the creative. The question is, what are the attributes that you have is that was the type, what is what’s in it, when it comes to imagery that things like colors and shapes and stuff. And you’re going to build out essentially a really big table of all this information, flight dates, day of week, hour of day. And then you have at the right hand side, the response column, which is like the performance. Again, the same process use with Google Analytics you would use with this, assuming you can get all the data, you stick it into a machine like, you know, IBM Watson Studio, and say, You tell me what combination of variables leads to the response, the highest level of response, and you’re gonna need a lot of data to do this. The machines will do that. And then will spit back the answer and then you have to look at it and and and prove it and make sure that it came up with something unintelligible. But once you do, you’ll see which attributes from the creative side actually matter what Animation, did it feature a person? What color scheme was it again, there’s all this metadata that goes with every creative, that you have to essentially tease out and put into this analysis. But that’s how you would start to pick away at that. And then once you have that, essentially, it’s a regression analysis. So you have a correlation, it is then time to test it, because you cannot say, for sure, that is the thing until you that’s it it says, ads that are that are read in tone and feature two people drinking seem to have the highest combination of variables. So now you create a test group of just you know, ads of two people drinking and you see does that outperform? You know, and ads have a picture of a plant and you know, two dogs and a cat and chicken and see, is that actually the case? And if you do that and you prove you know, with its statistical significance, yep. To an attitude people drinking is the thing. Now you have evidence that you’ve done this. It’s the scientific method. It’s the same thing that we’ve been doing for you. It was asking For millennia, it’s just now we have machines to assist us with a lot of the data crunching.

Jason Falls
Okay. So when you’re narrowing in on statistical significance to say, Okay, this type of ad works better. And this is a mistake I think a lot of people make is they’ll do you know, some light testing, so maybe split testing, if you will. And then they’ll say, Okay, this one performs better. Let’s put all of our eggs in that basket. I wonder where your breaking point is for statistical significance, because if I’ve got, let’s say, five different types of creative, and I do as many A B tests as I need to do to figure out which one performs better, I’ve always been of the opinion, you don’t necessarily put all your eggs in one basket. Because just because this performs better than this doesn’t mean that this is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean that this is ineffective, it just means this one performs better. And maybe this one performs better with other subgroups or whatever. So what’s your Cygnus statistical significance tipping point to say? All eggs go in one basket versus not

Christopher Penn
Well, you raise a good point. That’s something that our friend and colleague Tom Webster over Edison research says, which is if you do an A B split test and you get a 6040 test, right? You run into what he calls the optimization trap where you continually optimize for smaller and smaller audiences until you make one person deliriously happy and everyone else hates you. When in reality, version, a goes to 60% of slides and version beats goes to 40% of the audience. If you throw away version B, you’re essentially pissing off 40% of your audience, right? You’re saying that group of people doesn’t matter. And no one thinks Tom says this, would you willingly throw away 40% of your revenue? Probably not. In terms of like AB statistical testing, I mean, there’s any number of ways you can do that. And the most common is like p values, you know, testing p values to see like is the p value below 0.05 or below, but it’s no longer a choice you necessarily need to make depending on how sophisticated your marketing technology is. If you have the ability to segment your audience to two Three, four or five pieces and deliver content that’s appropriate for each of those audiences, then why throw them away? Give the audience in each segment what it is they want, and you will make them much happier. Malcolm Gladwell had a great piece on this back in, I think it was the tipping point when he was talking about coffee, like you, and this isn’t his TED Talk to which you can watch on YouTube, is he said, If you know if you ask people what they want for coffee, everyone says dark, rich, hearty roast, but he said about 30% of people want milky week coffee. And if you make a coffee for them, the satisfaction scores go through the roof and people are deliriously happy, even though they’re saying the opposite of what they actually want. So in this testing scenario, why make them drink coffee that they actually wouldn’t want? Why not give them the option if it’s a large enough audience and that is a constraint on manpower and resources?

Jason Falls
Now, you talked about Tom Webster who is at Edison research and doesn’t A lot of polling and surveying as a part of what he does, I know you have a tendency to deal more with the ones and zeros versus the, you know, the human being element of whatnot. But I want to get your perspective on this. I got in a really heated argument one time with a CEO, which I know not smart on my part. But about the efficiency in sample sizes, especially for human surveys and focus groups, he was throwing research at me that was done with like, less than 50 people like a survey of less than 50 people. I’ve never been comfortable with anything less than probably 200 or so to account for any number of factors, including diversity of all sorts, randomness, and so on. If you’re looking at a data set of survey data, which I know you typically look at, you know, millions and millions of lines of data at a time, so we’re not talking about that kind of volume. But if you were designing a survey or a data set for someone, what’s too little of a sample size for you to think, Okay, this is this is going to be relevant. It depends. It depends on the population size you’re serving. So if you’re serving if you got a survey of 50 people, right You’re surveying the top 50 CMOS, guess what, you need only 50 people, right?

Christopher Penn
You don’t really need a whole lot more than that because you’ve literally got 100% of the data of the top 50 CMOS. There are actual calculators online, you’ll find all over the place called your sample size calculators and is always dependent on the population size and how well the population is is mixed. Again, referring to our friend Tom, he likes to do talks about you know, soup, right, if you have a, a tomato soup, and it’s stirred Well, you only need a spoonful to test the entire pot of soup, right. On the other hand, if you have a gumbo, there’s a lot of lumpy stuff in there. And one spoonful may not tell you everything you need to know about that gumbo, right? Like oh, look, there’s a shrimp, this whole thing made of shrimp Nope. And so a lot goes into the data analysis of how much of a sample Do you need to reach the population size in a representative way where you’re likely to hit on All the different factors. That’s why when you see national surveys like the United States, you can get away with like 1500 people or 2000 people to represent 330 million, as long as they’re randomized and sampled properly. When you’re talking about, you know, 400 people or 500 people, you’re going to need, like close to 50% of the audience because there are, there’s enough chance that this is that one crazy person. That’s gonna throw the whole thing up. But that one crazy person is the CEO of a Fortune 50 company, right? And you want to know that the worst mistakes though, are the ones where you’re sampling something that is biased, and you make a claim that it’s not biased. So there are any number of companies HubSpot used to be especially guilty of this back in the day, they would just run a survey to their email list and say this represents the view of all marketers, nope, that represent the people who like you. And there’s a whole bunch of people who don’t like you and don’t aren’t on your mailing list and won’t respond to a survey. And even in cases like that, if you send out a survey to your mailing list The people who really like you are probably going to be the ones to respond. So that’s even a subset of your own audience that is not representative, even of your audience because there’s a self selection bias. Market research and serving as something that Tom says all the time is a different discipline is different than data analytics because it uses numbers and math, but in a very different way. It’s kind of like the difference between, you know, prose and poetry. Yes, they both use words and letters, but they use them in a very different way. And you’re one is not a substitute for the other.

Jason Falls
Right. Wow. I love the analogy. And Chad Holsinger says he loves the soup analogy, which gives me the opportunity to tell people my definition of soup, which I think is important for everybody to understand. I’ve never liked any kind of soup because soup to me is hot water with junk shit in it. So there you go. I’m checking in a couple of the new chip Griffin back at the beginning said this is going to be good. Hello, Chip. Good to see you. Chip had a really great look for chip on the Facebook’s. He had a really great live stream yesterday that I caught just A few seconds of and I still want to go back and watch for all of you folks in the agency world about how to price your services. And and so I was like, Oh man, I really need to watch this, but I gotta go to this call. So I’m gonna go back and watch that chip. Thanks for chiming in here. On your Rosina is here today. She’s with restream restream Yo, there you go. So Jason online slash Restream. For that Kathy calibers here again. Hello, Kathy. Good to see you again. Peter Cook is here as well. Peter Cook is our Director of interactive at cornet so good to see him chiming in and supporting the franchise. Okay, Chris, back to my hypothetical similar scenario but not as complicated and don’t think you’ve got a friend who owns a business size is kind of irrelevant here. Because I think this applies no matter what they want to invest in influencer marketing, which as you know, is one of my favorite topics because I get the book I’m working on. What advice would you give your friend to make sure they design a program to know what they’re getting out of their influencer so they can understand Which influencers are effective or efficient? which ones aren’t and or is influencer marketing good for them or not?

Christopher Penn
So it’s a really there’s a bunch of questions to unpack in there. First of all, what’s the goal? The program, right is if you look at the customer journey, where is this program going to fit, and it may fit in multiple places. But you’ll need different types of influences for different parts of the customer journey. There’s three very broad categories of influences. I wrote about this in a book back in 2016, which is out of print now, and I have to rewrite at some point. But there’s there’s essentially the, again, this is the sort of the expert, there’s the mayor, and then there’s the loud mouth, right? Most of the time when people talk about influences they think it aloud mouth the Kardashians of the world, like, how can I get, you know, 8 million views on my, you know, perfumer, unlicensed pharmaceutical. But there’s this whole group in the middle called these mayor’s these are the folks that B2B folks really care about. These are the folks that like, hey, Jason, do you know somebody at HP that I could talk to To introduce my brand, right I don’t need an artist 8 million I need you to connect me with the VP of Marketing at HP so that I can hopefully win a contract. That’s a really important influencer. And it’s one you don’t see a lot because there’s not a lot of very big splash. There’s no sexiness to it. So So yeah, let me send an email, and I’ll connect you and they’ll eight and $8 million deal later, like holy crap, do. I owe Jason in case of bourbon, and then give me three or four cases of murder. And then there’s then there’s the expert, right, which is kind of what you’re doing here, which is, there are some people again, for those folks who have a lot of gray hair, they remember back in the in the 70s and 80s. There’s whole ad series, you know that when EF Hutton talks, everyone listens. Right? The bank, the advisory firm, and it’s kind of the same thing. There are folks who don’t necessarily have huge audiences, but they have the right audience. You know, I hold up like my friend Tom Webster is one of those like when he says something when he read something, I’m gonna go read it. I don’t need I don’t even need to, to think like, Do I have time to read this? Nope. I just got to go and read what he has to say. And so depending on the the goal of your campaign, you need to figure out which of those three influencers types you want and what your expected outcome is. Second after that is how are you going to measure it? What is the the measurement system if you’re doing awareness, you should be benchmarking certainly giving your influencers you know, coded links to track direct traffic, but also you’re going to want to look at branded search and and co co branded search. So if I’m, if I search for yo Jason falls and Chris Penn, how many times that search for in the last month after do the show, if it’s zero, then you know, we didn’t really generate any interest in the show. If on the other hand, I see that’s spike up even for a little while, okay, people watched and or have heard about this and want to go look for it. So branded organic search sort of at the top. If you’re not using affiliate links, and affiliate type style tracking with your influencers and your goal is lead generation, you’ve missed the boat, you’ve completely missed the boat. And you know, for those for those like you know, may or may not influencers that’s where you’re going to track that directly into CRM like hey, Jason referred you know Patricia to me over HP you just track that code in your CRM and then later on because he did that, did that deal close? Or do we even was she even receptive like because you can have a terrible sales guy who just sucks It’s not your fault as the influencer for referring somebody who then the sales guy completely hosed the deal but at least you got the at bat. So for influencer marketing it’s it’s knowing the types having clear measures upfront and baking that into the contract again, this is something that I’ve seen brands do horrendously bad at they’ll the influences push for activity based metrics. I’m going to put up eight Facebook posts and four photos on Instagram. I remember I was doing work for an automotive client a couple years ago and they engage this one fashion influencer said I’m going to be a do for Instagram photos and and eight tweets and it’s gonna cost you $140,000 for the day and that was it. And the brand’s like, sure sign us up and like are you insane and she You’re not even just doing a complicated regression analysis after the fact we did an analysis on, you know, even just the brand social metrics and it didn’t move the needle along the person got great engagement on their account. But you saw absolutely no crossover. And the last part is the deliverables, what is it you’re getting? So the measurements are part of the deliverables, but you have to get the influence just to put in writing, here’s what I’m delivering to you. And it’s more than just activity, it’s like you’re going to get for example, in a brand takeover and influence takes over a brand account, you should see a minimum of like 200 people cross over because they should have that experience from previous engagements they, they probably know they can get like 500 or thousand people to cross over with a sign the line for 200 they know though that they’ll nail it. Again, these are all things that you have to negotiate with the influencer and probably their agent, and it’s gonna be a tough battle. But if they’re asking for money and asking for a lot of money, you have every right to say what am I getting for my money and if they are not comfortable giving answers, you probably have some Who’s not worth worth the fight?

Jason Falls
Great advice. So I know you do a lot. A lot of the work you’re doing now with Trust Insights is focused on artificial intelligence. And you’ve got a great ebook, by the way on

AI for marketers, which I’ll drop a link to in the

show notes. So people can find that, how is AI affecting brands and businesses now that maybe we don’t even realize what are the possibilities for businesses to leverage AI for their marketing success?

Christopher Penn
So AI is this kind of a joke? Ai is only found in PowerPoints to the people who actually practice it’s called machine learning, which is somewhat accurate. Artificial Intelligence is just a way of doing things faster, better and cheaper, right, that’s at the end of the day. It’s like spreadsheets. I often think when I hear people talking about AI in these mystical terms, why did you talk about spreadsheets the same way 20 years ago, like this is going to this mystical thing that will fix our business, probably not. At the end of the day. It really is just a bunch of math, right? It’s stats probability, some calculus and linear algebra. And it’s all on either classifying or predicting something. That’s really all it does at the end of the day, whether it’s an image, whether it is video, what no matter what brands are already using it even they don’t know they’re using it. They’re already using it. Like if you use Google Analytics on a regular basis, you are using artificial intelligence because it’s a lot built into the back end. If using Salesforce or HubSpot, or any of these tools. There’s always some level of machine learning built in, because that’s how these companies can scale their products. Where it gets different is are you going to try to use the technology above and beyond what the vendor gives you? Are you going to do some of these more complicated analyses are going to try and take the examples we talked about earlier, from Google Analytics and stuff that into IBM Watson Studio and see if its model comes up with something better? That’s the starting point, I think, for a lot of companies is to figure out, is there a use case for something that is very repetitive, or something that we frankly, just don’t have the ability to figure out but a tool does. Can we start there? The caution is And the warning is, there’s a whole bunch number one, this is all math. It’s not magic AI is math magic. If you can’t do regular math, you’re not going to be able to do with AI. Ai only knows what you give it right is called machine learning for a reason, because machines are learning from the data we give it, which means the same rules that applies last 70 years in computing apply here, garbage in, garbage out. And there is a very, very real risk in AI particularly about any kind of decision making system, that you are reinforcing existing problems because you’re feeding the existing data in that already has problems, you’re going to create more of those same problems, because that’s what the machine learned how to do. Amazon saw this two years ago, when they trained an HR screening system to look at resumes, and it stopped hiring women immediately. Why cuz you fed it a database of 95% men, of course, it’s going to stop hiring women. You didn’t think about the training data you’re sending it given what’s happening in The world right now and with things like police brutality and with systemic racism, everybody has to be asking themselves, am I feeding our systems data that’s going to reinforce problems? I was at a conference the mahr tech conference. Last year, I saw this vendor that had this predictive customer matching system four, and they were using Dunkin Donuts as an example. And it brought up this map of the city of Boston, then, you know, there are dots all over red dots for ideal customers, black dots for not ideal customers. And, again, for those of you who are older, you probably have heard the term redlining. This is where banks in the 30s would draw lines on a map red line saying we’re not gonna lend to anybody in these predominantly black parts of the city. This software put up Boston said, Here’s where all your ideal customers were, and you look at Roxbury, Dorchester, matapan ash bond, all black dots, I’m like, Are you fucking kidding me? You’re telling me there’s not a single person in these areas that doesn’t drink that no one drinks Dunkin Donuts, coffee. You’re full of shit. You’re totally full of shit. What you have done. You have redlined these these predominately black areas of the city for marketing purposes. I was at another event two years ago in Minneapolis. And I was listening to it an insurance company say, we are not permitted to discriminate on policy pricing and things like that we’re not permitted to that by law. So what would you do to get around that is we only market to white sections of the city is effectively what they said, I’m like, I don’t believe you just said that out loud. I’m never doing business with you. But the danger with all these systems with AI in particular is it helps us it’s like coffee, it helps us make our mistakes faster, and then bigger. And we got to be real, real careful to make sure that we’re not reinforcing existing problems as we apply these technologies. Now, when you start small, like, Can I figure out you know, what gets me better leads in Google Analytics that’s relatively safe, but the moment you start touching in on any kind of data at the individual level, you run some real risks of of reinforcing existing biases and you don’t want to be doing that for any number of reasons is the easiest one is it’s illegal.

Jason Falls
Yeah, that’s good. Well, if people watching or listening, didn’t know why I love Crispin before they do now, because holy crap we could. It’s a master’s thesis every time I talk to you and I always learned something great. Thank you so much for spending some time with us this morning. Tell people I’ve got links to copy and paste but tell people where they can find you on the interwebs.

Christopher Penn
two places to the easiest to go Trust. insights.ai is my company and our blog and all the good stuff there. We have a pocket weekly podcast there too called In-Ear Insights. And then my personal website, Christopher, Penn calm, easiest. You find all the stuff there and you can find your way to all the other channels from those places. But those are the two places to go Trust insights.ai and Christopher Penn calm. That’s great. Chris,

Jason Falls
thank you so much for taking some time and sharing some knowledge with us today. Always great to talk to you, man. You too Take care, sir. All right, Christopher pin want help solving

Christopher Penn
your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems, visit Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you


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