#96 The Psychology of Data (with Tim Ceuppens @ Pit&Pit)

The Measure Pod
The Measure Pod
#96 The Psychology of Data (with Tim Ceuppens @ Pit&Pit)

In this week’s episode of The Measure Pod we spoke with Tim Ceuppens, a creative thinker in the field of data and marketing. Tim shared his journey from film school to becoming the Chief Marketing Officer for Belgium and Netherlands’ largest health foods company, highlighting the importance of curiosity and storytelling in data analytics.

Show note links:

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Quotes of the Episode:

  1. “…I’m done with not being informed, not understanding what you’re trying to tell me, or being shown like cherry picked data where you did a good job, even though we’re not seeing any returns, but there was a lot of engagement or vice versa. And I just started to think, okay, so what can I do?” – Tim 
  2. “…So Ted Lasso, you know that scene where he’s playing darts and he’s talking about how he got to where he got to and people always underestimated him. And it was that quote he saw by Walt Whitman on the wall that said, be curious, not judgmental.” – Bhav


The full transcript is below, or you can view it in a Google Doc.

Intro | Topic | Rapid fire


[00:00:00] Bhav: That was a really good episode we just recorded with Tim, Dan. I met Tim at MeasureCamp and he spoke at CRAP Talks and then I think, I believe you met him at MeasureCamp as well. And I think I really like speaking to Tim. I really like hearing from him. He’s an eccentric fellow who has all of these wacky and wonderful ideas and he presents them in a way that are, that’s always hilarious. It was really nice to have him on the show. How do you think it went?

[00:00:38] Dan: Yeah, I think it went really well. And if you’re listening to this episode, you probably know the title of the episode being the psychology of data. And that’s exactly what we jumped straight into. So we do the howdy dos in terms of how we know each other. And then it’s really interesting hearing his backstory and how he found his way into being a CMO and the kind of ideas and the approaches to kind of data storytelling and the presentation and the integration of the kind of creativity into the world that’s very statistical and often not thought as creative, I think was really enlightening. 

[00:01:04] Dan: There’s a number of links that we talk about in this. So be sure to check out the show notes. Not only the talk that he did at the CRAP talks from a couple of years ago, it is recorded on YouTube, so we’ll put that there. All the links to the references that he mentions around the books, the blogs, the podcasts and of course we’ll link off to Tim himself on LinkedIn. So that’s the best way to get in touch with him. 

[00:01:21] Dan: The last thing to note is that we are on YouTube, so if you’re listening to this, you could watch us if you are, if you want to we’re over there. And be sure to check those show notes out again for the CRAP talks Slack community, as well as we’ve got a form on there, I’ve built a Looker Studio dashboard, looking at the stats of this podcast over time, and there’s a page on there that also has a feedback form. So if you want to come on and share an opinion, if you think you know someone that would be good for us to talk to, or even just have a subject you want to throw into the ring for us to talk about please do so. 

[00:01:50] Dan: One last thing to mention is that there’s no Dara this episode, he’s on holiday. So he’s having a great time over there. So me and Bhav took this one solo. So hopefully I did an all right job picking up the reins for the rapid fire at the end and whatnot, but anyway, hope you enjoy the show.

[00:02:06] Dan: Today we’ve got a special guest Tim Ceuppins. Hope I’m pronouncing that right. I did have a practice go just before we clicked record. So welcome Tim, thanks for being here, it’s really good to have you. 

[00:02:16] Tim: Hi welcome. It’s nice to be here. I’ve listened a few times, listed to a few episodes. So I’m the one listener from Belgium, probably so, yeah. 

[00:02:25] Dan: That’s why we invite people on to guest is so that they actually increase our listenership on the back catalogue. That’s the only reason. 

[00:02:31] Tim: See, this is why they say like when a metric becomes a KPI, it ceases to be a good indicator. 

[00:02:38] Dan: Well, look Tim thanks for coming on. We’ve been trying to get this booked in for a little while now. So me and you, we connected at MeasureCamp London, which was the back end of September, 2023. And I put a little post it note up on a little community wall that was just like, hey, there’s a podcast that I co host, and it would be good to talk to interesting people and you were one of them. So it was just really interesting that worked and I liked that little community wall. So thanks for your patience as well, getting this in the calendar. We’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while. It was just arranging calendars with this many people is always a nightmare.

[00:03:06] Tim: That’s just fine, it’s okay. 

[00:03:08] Bhav: And it’s not actually the first time we’ve connected though, is it Tim? You were kind enough to speak at a CRAP Talks event in the back end of 2022, I think. Again, shortly after you and I connected at MeasureCamp. I was watching your talk on data presentation, which made me laugh so much. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a data talk before. I couldn’t help but invite you to speak at CRAP Talks event. 

[00:03:33] Tim: And that was also a very, very interesting experience for me. I think it was in July. So it was great weather. There was sun, I don’t know, people in London kept looking up at the sky. What is this thing? But no it was, it was great to be there and give the talk and obviously meet you as well yeah. 

[00:03:51] Dan: Well, Tim, let’s let’s pull back slightly. So we know each other, Bhav knows you, I know Bhav, and so we’re connected. Let’s pull back and for people that haven’t come across you before we always like to let our guests introduce themselves to do their own kind of backstory, their origin story in terms of how they found themselves in the world of analytics and ultimately speaking to people like me and Bhav on a podcast all about analytics. So give us the long version, the short version, it’s up to you. How did you get here? 


[00:04:15] Tim: So basically I started a long time ago doing film school obviously as everyone who does analytics and data does, I think. So I was really looking forward to telling stories. It became quickly apparent that there’s like a top layer that you need to achieve in order to make films, and that I wasn’t in that layer. And so I had to actually start doing things to make money. And so I ended up in marketing because I knew a little bit of digital, I knew a bit of websites. And this is the days of the wild west where everyone was going like, oh, you know websites, you must come to our office, here’s a job. 

[00:04:53] Tim: And so it just grew from there. So it was very, it was very natural. I started doing SEO, because I did SEO, I did Google Ads, because I did Google Ads, I started doing Google Analytics, because I did Google Analytics and all the other things, I did conversion rate optimisation. And then just basically over the next 15 years learned everything that there is to know on marketing on the job until right now, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for Belgium, Netherlands, largest health food store, so that’s a fun thing to do. Interesting career progression coming from obviously not being the next Chris Nolan to this, but it’s just as fun as well. So yeah, I still get to tell stories, so yeah. 

[00:05:38] Bhav: Tim, I remember when you told me that you just landed the job as the CMO at, I think it was MeasureCamp just gone recently and it hadn’t been fully announced. And I was, I was amazed that your sort of professional journey that you’ve been on from the fact that you started in film, which that bit I actually didn’t know, to then like transitioning through the world of digital marketing, analytics, and then end up as a, as a CMO, it’s a health, it’s a health foods store right? 

[00:06:03] Tim: Yeah obviously, if you look at me, this is exactly the sort of audience you would expect, the poster child. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So every day I do at least 20 pushups. So no, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting journey. But yeah, you just basically pick up all the things that you need to know. And at a certain point someone, so the previous CMO was thinking about leaving. I met her actually at a MeasureCamp. And she just basically called me up one day and said, I’m thinking about leaving here because it’s, it’s not exactly a match with what I want to do. And I think listening to you speak and the conversations that we had this will be right up your alley, and it turned out that was the case. So I’m having a lot of fun. 

[00:06:46] Dan: That’s amazing. And it’s interesting hearing that backstory and I think it’s equally as unique as everyone else’s. I mean, there’s all sorts of different stories we’ve heard coming from there. So the first film school student we’ve had in the world of analytics, but it’s definitely not abnormal to be honest, coming from all these different walks of life. I think one thing that I’ve noticed that there’s the thread that ties all this stuff together is that kind of infinite levels of curiosity and just the drive to just be like, sure, I’ll give it a go, you know, maybe, you know, and then I’ll either do it or I won’t, you know, and I think this either, there’s the kind of people that are either, no, no, no, this is outside of my responsibility and I’m not going to do it versus the kind of whatever I’ll do it, you know, SEO, ads, marketing analytics, you know. Now we’re talking things like legal and consent and we’re talking about warehousing and clouds. Like just, yeah, yeah, sure. 

[00:07:29] Tim: Sure yeah. No, I think Walter Isaacson, is he the biographer of like Steve Jobs and Elon. So he did, he did all of these biographies. And I think he was in a podcast once and someone asked him a question. What connects all these people? So what makes, what made their success? And he just basically went curiosity. And I’m looking, looking at what I did. I always wanted to find out why this happened. So this is how I got into analytics. Oh, why is this happening? Well, let me, let me see if I can find that out. Oh, and how is this working? Oh, why are we, why aren’t we doing this? And you just basically start putting all the pieces together until you’ve got the entire board set out and you know exactly because you’ve put every single piece there, you know exactly where it needs to go and why it is and yeah, it’s fun. 

[00:08:14] Bhav: I think curiosity for me is now tied to the TV show Ted Lasso. Has anyone seen it? 

[00:08:19] Tim: Yes I love it. What an incredible show. 

[00:08:22] Bhav: So Ted Lasso, you know that scene where he’s playing darts and he’s talking about his, how he got to where he got to and people always underestimated him. And it was that quote he saw by Walt Whitman or whoever on the wall that said, be curious, not judgmental. And so now that, that’s my, whenever someone talks about curiosity and like those kinds of things, my mind goes kind of there. So Tim, you’re talking to us today about the psychology of data. And you often hear about the psychology of user experience, psychology of buying, psychology of debt, you know, whatever.

[00:08:53] Bhav: This is the first time I’m coming across the concept of the psychology of data. And Dan, I don’t know if you’ve come across before, maybe, maybe you have but we’d love to get a feel for, you know, what is psychology of data and how is it different to psychology of X? 

[00:09:08] Tim: So the name of the concept I came up with, because I read the book, the psychology of money. And it was just probably some of the best life advice that I ever got was in that book. And I just started thinking about, okay, so if I want to talk about so I started doing data storytelling. So this is why we ended up doing CRAP talks. And I ended up thinking about, okay, so if it’s data storytelling, again, this is all these pieces of the puzzle that come together.

[00:09:35] Tim: If it’s data storytelling, you also need to know how to use data to talk about all these things and because it’s influencing people’s psychology. What was the origin story of it? It was basically, I was in a meeting with the performance agency at the time with the place I was working at. I think it was the last meeting that I had before the COVID lockdowns. I remember because we were doing like this, the silly, like foot shake, you know, if you, I’ll never forget that. So basically it was like, oh yeah, we can’t, we can’t give hands anymore, so we’ll just like do this little foot thing. 

[00:10:08] Dan: We went elbows. 

[00:10:11] Bhav: Yeah I was going to say, in England, we went elbows. 

[00:10:13] Tim: No, we went, somehow in Belgium, I don’t know, it was a TV show or whatever, and everyone was doing this for like the two weeks or the 10 days before they went like, no, that’s it, stay in house. So no, so it was the last meeting before that and that was just, all these meetings were absolutely dreadful, all of them. So there were probably 12 or 15 minutes before this one, which were all the same. It was always three hours long, it was always a rundown of numbers. We were spending, I was working for an energy company at the time, we were spending probably somewhere between 100 and 200,000 euros every single month and they were running it down. And if I came out of that meeting and I would run into my boss and my boss would ask me, so what did I get for the 100 to 200,000 euros? I would have gone, would have had to gone, fuck if I know. So that’s probably not a good, a good idea I To have these meetings. 

[00:11:08] Tim: And so I was sitting in this meeting and they were boring. Like I was mentally checked out and I was, I just went like, no, we need to, I’m done having these sorts of meetings. I’m done with not being informed, not understanding what you’re, what you’re trying to tell me, or being shown like cherry pick data where you did a good job, even though we’re not seeing any returns, but there was a lot of engagement or vice versa. 

[00:11:37] Tim: And I just started to think, okay, so what can I do? Well, I’ve got basically MeasureCamp where I can talk. I’ve got like a website where I can write, which I ended up doing for like at least five blog posts as everyone who does. So I’ve got LinkedIn and slowly, but surely it sort of matured into, into how can I help people.

[00:11:59] Tim: I know how to tell stories, how can I help people tell stories with data so that people end up at a better place where they started off. I think I listened to, like I said, a couple of your episodes and you did one on data literacy and I was like very happy because all of you went, yeah, if you have to, data literacy is including presenting conclusions and taking actions. I liked Bhav’s confucius zen approach as well. So that was very nice. But again, it’s the same thing like presenting conclusions and taking actions. 

[00:12:31] Tim: What annoyed me about the three hour meetings was one, obviously it was too long and it was just basically like a rundown of numbers. Like that’s up 23.6 percent and that’s down 22 percent. And this is 10,650, like it’s too much. I’m like pretty into data, and I was mentally checked out after 30 minutes. So that’s Like, that obviously can’t be the ideal situation. I feel like I’ve been rambling on now for quite a while.

[00:12:58] Bhav: No, I mean, to be fair, you’re, you, I, I couldn’t agree with you more on some of these, on all of the things you said so far. I’ve sat in those meetings where people sort of like, running through these numbers at lightning speed, this is up, this is down, without providing any context, like is that good, is that bad, like, did we expect it to go up, and, you know, has it gone up in line with the expectations, or why has it gone up, you know, and all of these things are just completely overlooked and, so, you started putting together this program to share at MeasureCamp, and so on and so forth.

[00:13:30] Bhav: In between this horrendous meeting you were in and you going to MeasureCamp with this hilarious talk that you put together, did you get a chance to put this into practice where you’re like, you know what, I’m going to change this and I’m going to try some of these storytelling methods and I’m going to try presenting data with context and if you did, what, you know, how was it received?

[00:13:51] Tim: So yes, in my personal like reporting it, they’re always like this. So they’re basically at most two or three numbers there. If I do present data, it’s usually graphed out. So it’s usually a graph. So you can see, so you have context, you have timely context. Is it up? Is it down? Is it compared to another data set or data point that we want to compare it to. What was the target? So all of these, basically, if you see a dashboard of mine, you can basically in five seconds see, are we doing great? Are we doing bad? What do we need to talk about? Which is exactly what you want. You basically want this conversation to be very short because, you know, being in the position that I’m in now, my day is pretty busy. So I’ve got online campaigns, are we going to do offline campaigns? What are we going to do with the website? What are we, so this particular bit of what, what performance max is going to do, for example, that’s just one small thing that I need to talk about.

[00:14:50] Tim: So yeah, with agencies I always introduce these concepts, they always take them and then they do it right the first month. But then there’s always like this, it’s like agencies feel uneasy to not show data. So basically what they think is just pile on more, pile on more numbers. If we pile on more numbers, people will trust us more because there’s more data that they can look at.

[00:15:19] Tim: So the job I was before was for a Belgian fashion brand. And we were introducing the brand in Germany and we had a German agency and I had a call with our account manager. I said like, listen, so the CEO is basically a shoot from the hips type guy. And then the CDO was very analytical. So she was very with her, with the calculator and like thinking, typing, typing away, looking at numbers. So I said like, what, the last thing you want to do is show a slide filled with these boxes with numbers in and she’s like, yes, yes, absolutely, we shall, we shall. 

[00:15:55] Tim: And so the meeting starts. I have to step out of the room for some reason or other and I come, I step out, I take a call, I come back in. The first thing I see is like a slide with 16 grey boxes filled with numbers. And so I look to my right where the CEO and CDO are sitting and the CEO is basically on his phone. I’m like, I wonder what Manchester United did today, oh, nice. And the CDO is typing away at our calculator, going like, oh, 300,000 visits 600,000. Oh, how does that compare to this? Oh, what kind of type of ratios can I make of this? So obviously nothing of value is going to happen there. This meeting just went on and on and on and on. 

[00:16:35] Dan: Is that because the idea is that more is more, right? And so if you pay lots of money for something, you need more stuff in return. And actually it’s not about quality, it’s about quantity in a lot of cases. 

[00:16:45] Tim: So in this particular case, the launch wasn’t going that great. Because it takes like, Germany’s a big market, and so it takes a lot of budget to corner even a little part of it. So the launch wasn’t going that great. So this should be, should have been a pretty straightforward like decision, but because they made it like, well, we did a lot of work so yes, there aren’t any sales, but we reached this many people and we shown them this many ads and the frequency was this and then we did that. So all of these things just basically made the image murky. And instead of talking about what we can do, because there were things that we could do, what we could do to improve this particular launch campaign, we ended up talking about whether or not a frequency of four was good. Like, that’s not, what are we even talking about? 

[00:17:40] Dan: So Tim I have a question for you. And I suppose this is the kind of the devil’s advocate side that Bhav normally takes, but I think I want to jump in and take this side. So I get it, I’m on board and we’ve all been in those meetings and I, and I like the idea of what you’re coming at from this psychology of data, but I’m wondering then, so how is this different from preexisting concepts such as like data storytelling or the kind of the, the literacy that you mentioned that me and Bhav have spoken about? What is the psychology data? How is that different from renaming that aspect of it? 

[00:18:10] Tim: So it actually came from pretty early on. I figured out that we already, so I had all these questions on how can we make this sale in reporting meetings? And I suddenly realised that we already figured this out because basically this is all, these are all marketing questions. These are all things that we do in our day to day work when we’re not talking about what the results were, we basically use concepts like anchoring which you can do. So anchoring is a concept where you show, so Steve Jobs made this for me, Steve Jobs made this famous by first leaking that the iPad was going to cost a thousand dollars, I think.

[00:18:50] Tim: And then in the presentation, he had this slide, this gigantic slide, like he’s standing in front of it and it’s 999 dollars. That’s what’s being said that this new iPad is going to cost. And then he just switches to the next slide and goes, no, we shall sell it to you for just 4 99. And the audience erupts because it’s like half off, but this product didn’t exist until five minutes ago for most people. So he anchored the idea of 999 and everyone’s like 500, this is amazing. Like, is it? Is it really? Because Apple’s margin is upwards of 60%. So it’s probably easier to get a lot to get it a lot cheaper, but everyone just lost their minds because it was half off. That’s a concept like anchoring, which is a psychological concept that you can use. This is an arrow in your, in your arrow kit or your toolbox, the tool in your toolbox to make a number seem bigger or smaller yeah. 

[00:19:44] Bhav: But can you, I’m trying to put that into the context of, you know, you’re in a meeting with a CMO or CFO or CDO or whoever, CEO. How would you apply anchoring in this situation? I get it from a product perspective, right? You want people to pay a certain amount. So you first allude to the idea that it’s going to be higher. If you want your conversion rate to be 10, right? You’re not going to say you know, it’s like, oh, well, the conversion rate could have been 5%, but actually it’s 10%. Like, I’m trying to figure out how this would work. 

[00:20:13] Tim: So you could use, for example, the averages in the industry. So the conversion rate like you say, the average in the, in the industry, the conversion rate is 5%. And that’s the first thing that you show. And then you go, well, our conversion rate is 9.8% that’s nearly double what the industry average is. Or you can look at past performance so for example, our conversion rate last month was 5%. Our conversion rate right now is 10%, so all of the optimizations that we did worked, so works in all sorts of ways yeah. 

[00:20:44] Bhav: But in those instances, so in the instance you use with Apple, which by the way, that’s a great story. I know that story, I think I remember it from your talk and I think it’s a fantastic story. They’re trying to sell something, right? They’re trying to sell a product price that still generates some 60 percent margin. But in the instance of, you know, being in a boardroom or a meeting room with your colleagues, you’re not trying to sell anything.

[00:21:06] Bhav: Maybe you are, I haven’t given it more than like 10 seconds of thought at this stage, but you know, you’re not trying to sell. You’re trying to get information across that starts conversations. That you know, like indicates the health of where things are, like, what is, what is the value of anchoring in this situation? Okay compared to industry averages, that makes sense. But if you’re just looking at you know, past performance and also on the flip side, what if, you know, your conversion was down, how would you like, I’m trying to figure out the purpose of using psychological methods in a data space.

[00:21:40] Tim: Okay so you are actually trying to sell something because you’ve got a plan of action. You’ve got a solution. You’ve got your version of the truth that you’re trying to get across. So that’s what you’re trying to sell. You’re not trying to get, you know, obviously credit cards out, but you are trying to make sure that they implement or even just listen to what you have to say and then start a conversation. So that’s how you would, how you would use it. How you would use like all of these psychological marketing tricks. Basically, you’re selling an idea. So if you’re selling an idea, you can use marketing tricks. That’s as, as easy as I can make it. 

[00:22:16] Bhav: No, I love it. I’ve been trying to think if, you know, next time I’m sat with a client or an internal stakeholder and I’m trying to make it a bit more, I mean, I mean, I think for me, I’ve always tried to keep data exciting. I’ve sat in those exactly those boardrooms that you’ve described where, you know, people are just like, this is up, this is down, you’re just like so bored and you’re switched off. And, you know, you don’t blame someone with half the context you have to switch off as well. 

[00:22:41] Tim: And so sometimes you even it’s not just like using these psychological tricks to make a number seem bigger or smaller or to make sure that people see growth or, or that they get sort of the general idea. Sometimes it’s as easy as which I did a couple of months ago is just basically get out, get people to get out their phones. We had an issue where on mobile, there were no conversions, none. They were selling trainings and there were no conversions on mobile. So we started looking into it. And so we started using Google Analytics as to what is the drop off point? Well, people are still using the menu okay. So people are still using menu, but then nothing happens. Okay so then we started hot jarring. So we did hot jar and we looked at all of these scroll maps.

[00:23:26] Tim: It didn’t really say Why there was nothing happening except for one particular thing is people were scrolling almost all the way to the bottom of the page that the pop up that was being shown. And then they didn’t do anything. So basically we’ve, because of that, we figured it out we got into a meeting with all the stakeholders who were supposed to build the site, got everyone to take out their phones and went like, okay, so go to a product page.

[00:23:54] Tim: Yeah go to a product page. All right, now click open the more information menu. Okay, click open more information menu. Okay now scroll through it. So it’s a wall of text. We will fix that one later, that’s also a problem, but now you’re interested okay, how do you sign up? Well, oh shit, there’s no sign up button. And because we got all of these people, we could have, we could have done that with the hot jar and with the presentation, but because we got everyone to pick out, get out their phones and experience it. They experienced it. Then they noticed like, this is very frustrating because I’m interested and now I have to find a way to close the tab and I have to go to the main menu and have to see if I can do with contacts or what, where do I, where do I sign up for this thing?

[00:24:37] Tim: And it’s that sort of thing as well that I was advised is to get people to experience the problem, not just show the problem, get them to experience the problem. Because if you’ve got the experience, you’ve got the, basically the empathy with the end user that you’re trying to achieve.

[00:24:53] Dan: So for things like First of all, I love it, I agree. And I think that’s definitely the best way of getting a point across. Where my heads at I think a little bit is that the, that I’m very similar in a similar world to you Tim in the kind of the marketing world, and I’m just thinking that it’s very hard to experience an ad nowadays, especially with things like performance max and the kind of algorithm doing a lot of the stuff. And you’ve got a lot of faith in the big black box of the different walled gardens and things like that. I’m just wondering then how, how do you translate an experiential thing to something as abstract as we actually don’t know what happened, but here’s some numbers that are now modelled because we can’t be certain there either. And I think we’ve got a return on your investment and this is as far as we know, and we’ve done as much as we can. So I’m just wondering like where, where the future of experience goes when actually as marketers, we can’t experience the marketing itself. 

[00:25:44] Tim: Yeah so that’s a, that’s a good question because I’ve got actually a hate, hate relationship with performance max. I think it’s the most Google of their products. It’s like just give us everything and we’ll figure out your business better than you think you do and they just don’t. And then not only do they, do they do that? This is actually a good point, they don’t present anything of value to you. So basically you get, you had this many impressions, you had this many, I don’t even think you’ve got clicks. I think you’ve got it, they call it interactions now. So interactions are clicks and video views and I think the email stuff also has its own title. Then there’s like the attributed things, which is basically everything because Google measures it.

[00:26:34] Tim: Yeah, for me it highlights a problem with how Google reports on performance max, because like you say, I don’t have, we upload 20 images, which image is performing better they don’t tell me, we’ll just show, we’ll just show you the, we’ll just show the more, the most performing image better but that’s basically it. I think there’s like a performance max script where you can export all of all of that stuff to drive, where you can look at it. But even that’s very, very limited, but it just highlights that it’s, it’s not giving you any value for the, as an end consumer here. 

[00:27:12] Dan: But these are the products, right? And I think this is the interesting thing is that that is there could be as much want a need and desire to do this from an analyst perspective or from a marketer’s perspective, but the fundamental technology they’re using doesn’t allow them to even be able to present the data in a meaningful way. I’m just wondering then what are the options on the table? 

[00:27:34] Tim: Stop advertising with Performance Max. 

[00:27:37] Dan: Yeah, just spend the money elsewhere, if only that was that easy. The thing with this kind of stuff is I’ve got a couple of frameworks I always use and when I’m speaking to people, especially maybe junior analysts or people kind of getting into the industry for the first time, I always kind of reiterate the idea of the five whys framework.

[00:27:52] Dan: I don’t know if you’ve come across that and it’s, it’s basically you get a number and you just ask why five times. And then you finally get to uncover the truth by the end of it right. And I think these kinds of frameworks are really useful. I’m just wondering if that is the approach then rather than being able to get at the data itself, to be able to uncover those yourself, you’re actually going to have to be like, we believe this would have had an impact and using this kind of modelling, because it feels, it’s this kind of like where this industry is going and to be able to get hold of that data and to analyse it succinctly, even to do things like machine learning models or using approaches to stuff like that, which would actually get you back to where we were before in the wild west.

[00:28:29] Dan: It just feels so out of reach for a lot of marketers. And actually that’s, that’s now kind of like behind the wall of having a team of people dedicated to this. I’m just wondering for the, the lay people or the SMEs. What option do they have, but to report on what’s been given to them and assume it’s doing well. 

[00:28:46] Tim: Okay so I’ll tell you what, what I like to do, and first of all, anyone who’s been in the industry pre 2010 this is basically where we were in 2008. Where we’re heading is basically where we were in 2008. So this feels very familiar to me. So for me, or my framework for measuring things throughout the funnel is, is actually pretty simple. It’s, we have certain things that we expect out of campaigns that we run. So for example, a performance max campaign, I want to see direct conversions because it’s literally bottom of the funnel shopping campaigns, same thing, I want, I want purchases, I want revenue.

[00:29:25] Tim: If it’s, let’s say a Facebook campaign or a more of a, like a top of the funnel campaign. I can’t expect anyone to make a purchase. Like how do you use Facebook? You’re on the train. You’ve got five minutes, you’re basically scrolling. Oh, like a nice cat video, ooh, ooh, uncle Bernie’s being crazy again. And then there’s like an ad for healthy food. And then you go like, oh yeah, healthy food. Yeah I should really do that. What’s it called? Oh yeah, yeah those USPs, and then you just scroll past it. And at night you go like, what was a healthy food site again? So you type in Google, so basically what I want from Facebook is did I get add to carts from this thing?

[00:30:04] Tim: Did they click it? Did they see things on the website? That’s the sort of thing that I try to look at. So I, we basically split it in a couple of things. And I think it’s folly to think that you can trace a purchase back to an impression that someone got from a, from a Facebook. Well, first of all, all of these attribution models are only click based, especially if they’re cross channel, they’re only click based. So are we saying Facebook Ads don’t work because then TV ads don’t work, and I know for a fact that TV ads do work. So it’s this digital thing where if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. 

[00:30:41] Tim: And you saw that when Apple rolled out ATT and all of these game companies suddenly didn’t see like the return of install and the return of all these purchases and they all stopped advertising on Facebook. Now I can guarantee you one thing, two companies didn’t stop advertising on Facebook and they grew market share. Whereas the other ones didn’t. The reason for it is the other ones thought, well, if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. But that’s just simply not the case. It’s just, you can’t measure it. So it might just still exist and you’ll have to take a little leap of faith and see what happens. It doesn’t feel like an answer to your question, it feels like a lot of rambling. 

[00:31:25] Bhav: I think the whole if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. It’s probably not driven out of the belief that it doesn’t exist because you couldn’t measure it. I think it’s driven out of the, the one’s inability to quantify it to someone else, right? So you go back to your situation where you were, you know, you left the boardroom and someone asked you, you know, what am I getting for my money? And you had no idea. I think it’s the fear of that. Whereas, with TV, okay, I think TV has been something that we’ve always not been able to measure accurately anyway, like we have models and we, we do sort of econometric modelling and uplifts and things like that. And, you know, we have methods that we try to use to analyse it.

[00:32:05] Bhav: But when we talk about digital, we’ve always been able to directly attribute behaviours to spend and outcomes to spend. And suddenly when you take that away, people aren’t thinking like, oh, well, is there some type of model that we could use to show the spend and the, you know, the return on the investment based on the spend here.

[00:32:26] Bhav: I want to go back to kind of like more classical psychology of data stuff. I think I came into this call with a whole bunch of things that I wanted to understand like what drives behaviour and I want to go back to that point around the CEOs on the laptop, the CDO was kind of like making, like frantically typing away. Do you think this has something to do with the way we process data? And actually, when I refer back to your talk on storytelling, It was, I think the way you talked about it was really around, you know, let’s make it a bit more fun, let’s start with the beginning, let’s have a middle, let’s have an end, you know, that you, I think I recall you using the Disney framework where you have the start and then you introduce a problem and then the, you know, and there’s that, and then you get to some type of outcome.

[00:33:11] Bhav: With data, do you think one of the challenges of it and the need to talk about things like psychology of data is because of the way we, we as humans, the way we interpret data is very different and that has a part to play. 

[00:33:24] Tim: Yeah so I like a quote from Nancy Duarte who wrote data storytelling as a book. And she says like data, we always say like the data speaks for itself. And the thing is, it rarely does. If I send you an Excel file all three of us are going to take different conclusions from, from the same Excel file. So basically if you’re presenting towards a board or if you’re presenting towards your peers, or if you’re presenting as an agency towards a client, you have to take these people along for a story of what you want to tell.

[00:33:56] Tim: So basically you have to know where you want to get to, what do you want out of this, out of this particular meeting? Is it just a, is it a decision? Because if it’s a decision, you basically have to show people exactly what you want and how you got there and where maybe paths not travelled. To make sure that like, I’m not just saying to you that we need to do this. No, we looked into X, Y, and Z, but they all sucked. And for these, for these reasons, and I’m just going to show you like we can use A and B and A’s advantages are these and B’s advantages are these, you have to take people along on that ride and how you got there. So what I say by the way, come see me at MeasureCamp.

[00:34:38] Tim: I have a slide there about Jurassic Park. And basically what does a good story need? Well, a good story needs a hero, a compelling hero that we can root for. This is something that we want to achieve. It needs a desperately evil villain. This is something we want to avoid. There need to be life or death stakes, right? So the stakes need to be high. So if you’re coming to me and so I can improve your conversion rate by 10%, I’m like, okay, thanks, I guess. But quantify, like if I improve your conversion rate by 10%, this means that we will probably end up selling a million euros more this year. 

[00:35:17] Tim: And I’m like, ooh, a million euros, this is something we can work with. So life or death stakes are very important. And then most probably the most important thing is taking people on a ride. So this is what I was saying about before, like, we’ve looked at this and we looked at that and we, we did X, Y, and Z and make people discover what you’re trying to say. If you get people to take that ride with you and you show them like, oh, we’ve got, so we filmed, they have like a shot A plus shot B equals thought C, and so that’s what you want. So Chris Nolan’s excellent at this. So there’s, by the way, a podcast that I can recommend where he talks about this in Oppenheimer. And basically you can do the same in your reporting. So you basically have shot A, shot B. 

[00:36:00] Bhav: Do you not run the risk of like unconscious bias coming into it? Let’s go back to your example, right? You have a story you want to tell, you’re telling that story because there is some outcome that you want to achieve. If I stick to your storytelling example, Karate Kid is one of my favourite movies, right? In the movie, Daniel is the good guy, and Johnny Lawrence is the bad guy. And for years, I believe that, then I went and watched this show called How I Met Your Mother, and in that one of the main characters sees Johnny Lawrence as the good guy, and Daniel Lawrence as the, I’m sorry, Johnny Lawrence as good guy and Daniel LaRusso as the bad guy.

[00:36:34] Bhav: And then they made a spin off series called Cobra Kai, which looks at the story from Johnny Lawrence’s point of view, and how he never actually saw himself as a bad guy. And it got me thinking a lot, because like, you know, when we talk about the, you know, when you’re talking about narratives and getting to some outcome there is always a bias. And it’s hard to tell as the receiver of information, am I being subjected to some type of bias? And I think, okay, when numbers are presented as boring numbers, they’re just that, they’re boring numbers. But when you add a story onto it, right, there is this, aversion, I guess, to that story, because there’s a risk that you know someone wants you to extend their contract with, if you’re an agency, you want more money out the back of it.

[00:37:14] Bhav: You want them to put more money in marketing instead of product because you know, you’re the marketing manager and you’re held more accountable you know, so on and so forth. So like, from a psychology perspective, like, how do you jump through these hoops to ensure that what you’re doing stays objective.

[00:37:32] Tim: So basically the question that I like to ask and you have to, you can also do this for yourself is, what would I see if this wasn’t the case? So what would I want? What do I want? And then the other part is what would I see if this wasn’t the case? Now, how I come at it is I ask that beforehand of the stakeholders, like, what do you like? You get a, you get a question. What do you want? Well, I want to increase blah, blah, blah. And then you just go like, okay, let’s say that it’s not possible or it’s not the case. What would you see? What would convince you? And they basically go like, oh, well, you would see X, Y, or Z. Now you’ve got X, Y, or Z to look out for.

[00:38:14] Tim: So if you see X, Y, or Z, you can basically go, well, we’ve got this information, which is in favour, and we can most definitely make that happen. But I have to tell you, we also saw X, Y, or Z. And because they said it beforehand, they’ve now committed to the fact that it’s not your idea. It’s not your idea, why it’s not going to work. It’s their idea, so in their mind, it’s their narrative that you, that you’re now saying. You basically go like, I don’t think this is going to work because we’re seeing X, Y, or Z. And so that’s something that now, now you’ve got a conversation that you can have. 

[00:38:52] Bhav: So you’re kind of using that concept of anchoring, actually. And I think this is fascinating because you can use this technique going into the session, like, hey, you know, before you set everyone up to show them numbers, you set them up for guys, you know, what do you, what are your expectations? And you kind of get them to set their own bar a bit like, you know, if Steve Jobs had to just ask people how much you expect to pay for this, that’s in some ways anchoring in, you know, if the expectation that they would automatically suggest around a thousand, you come in at 499, that’s a good thing.

[00:39:20] Bhav: So here, what you’re saying is you know, do the expectation management, the anchoring up front by asking the questions in terms of like, what do you want to see, what does the outcome look like, what would you do if it didn’t look like that, you know, blah, blah, blah. And then you use that as a trigger point because then it’s not your story, you’re kind of entering into their story and just supplying the facts they need, right?

[00:39:42] Tim: Yeah, exactly. And that’s one way to do it, and then the other way is it’s not, and I think this is important because this is what most people understand, like, oh, you have to show less numbers. So basically we’re only going to research the things that we’re going to show on screen and that’s not how it works. You still have to do all of the other numbers, but it’s not because you have all the numbers that you need to put them on screen or that you need to mention them. But if someone asks a question, you need to be able to be prepared and go like, oh yeah, this. So there’s a, I think probably one of the most like mind blowing podcasts that I’ve listened to was with a Swiss guy.

[00:40:16] Tim: This is an interesting life story by itself, but a Swiss guy who ran NASA Thomas or something like that. Anyway I’ll make sure that I’ll send you the link so we can link it in the show notes. So basically it’s two hours on a decision thing because this guy, he’s the one voice who does two billion dollar projects. So you want to go to Mars? The only person you need to convince is Thomas Saarbruggen, whatever, Thomas and he says like, oh, I’m an astrophysicist, but I don’t know nothing about rockets. I don’t know nothing about how to keep people alive on the moon or send stuff to Mars or beam things back.

[00:40:52] Tim: But I do know that when people don’t know, they’ll suddenly freeze. And so what he does is, okay, so what do we want to do? Oh, we want to build a rocket. And he comes again with the five whys, and so he starts digging and digging and digging. So he doesn’t do five whys, he does 20 why’s or 30 why’s. And if you, at why six suddenly go like, oh yeah we believe maybe, and he goes like, oh no, no, you haven’t researched this enough. Now he goes like research this better and come back and introduce it to me. And so it’s not that he doesn’t want to approve this particular project. It’s that he doesn’t feel comfortable spending 2 billion and then watching things blow up once they, once they leave the launching pad, it’s a mind blowing podcast on how to make decisions and how people at that level think and how you can, how you can structure your presentations to appeal to these people. 

[00:41:46] Dan: Awesome yeah, we’re going to definitely have to get the link for that and put it in the show notes. And we’re kind of very rapidly approaching time, unfortunately, Tim, but I did want to ask you one last thing, because I know I can tell from your LinkedIn profile at very least that you’ve been involved in the measure camp scene in Brussels for a good number of years now. So just very quickly how do people find out more about MeasureCamp Brussels and when’s the next one? Is there one scheduled and how do they get a ticket? 

[00:42:10] Tim: So it’s brussels.measurecamp.org, there isn’t one scheduled yet. We are going to do one, we used to have them in October. We went to a new date at the beginning of December. So it’s probably going to be the first weekend of December pending venue approval. And yeah do come along. And again, doesn’t matter where you are, there is now a MeasureCamp probably near you at least once a year. You don’t have to be crazy like me and a couple of other kinds who travel to, I think five or six a year. It’s definitely worth it to meet people and to talk to people and to get ideas and fresh perspectives.

[00:42:48] Tim: And this might also be important for people who are looking to improve their data stories telling skills. You can basically present, you can fuck up, no one’s going to notice. Everyone there wants you to succeed and you can try to present your presentation. 

[00:43:06] Dan: Amazing. Yeah, definitely a fun favourite of ours. And yeah, and some incredible stuff. I think both me and Bhav did a talk on the last London one. And yeah found it awesome actually, just there’s no, there’s no two words about it. It’s one of the best meetups obviously other than CRAP talks, sorry Bhav other than crap. 

[00:43:27] Dan: Well, look i’ll link in the show notes as well. We actually spoke to Peter O’Neil on this podcast in the early days episode 28, if I remember rightly so we’ll put a link to that if you want to hear the story of how MeasureCamp started and where it got to today. Well, that’s awesome. Okay we’ve got our rapid fire questions now, Tim. So I’m going to put you in the hot seat. And this is normally Dara’s favourite thing to do that as he’s on holiday, I I’ll be taking the reins for this and just to put you in the hot seat. So Tim, what is the biggest challenge today that will be gone in five years time? 

Rapid Fire/Outro

[00:44:00] Tim: Ooh, good question. I think that’s going to be attribution. Basically because we’ve got all these guesstimate machines that’ll at a certain point, get it right. There’s too much money that’s being spent there by Facebook and by Google and by all these people spending billions. Yeah, that would be my guess. 

[00:44:18] Dan: That’s definitely a good guess. We’ll see. We’ll come back in five years, eh? And so if that will be solved in five years, what will be the biggest challenge in five years? 

[00:44:26] Tim: Different side of the same coin, which is a believability because obviously unless Google and Facebook start to work together, you’re not going to, you’re not going to know, both of these are still going to report that you’ve got a hundred sales in total and they both delivered 90 of them so. 

[00:44:45] Dan: If you could bust one myth, what’s the myth you’d like to bust? 

[00:44:48] Tim: This is going to be slightly controversial. But the myth is that data is the difference maker between being successful and not being successful. And now people always go like, oh, what do you mean? Well, what I mean is it’s not the difference maker. It’s basically, it’s table stakes. If you don’t have good data, you’re In for a pretty rough ride and a bad time, but it’s not the difference maker. The difference maker is going to be your creativity. So what I can only hope is that all of my competitors are going to sign up to, which is inevitably going to happen this year.

[00:45:24] Tim: So what I can only hope is that all of my competitors are signing up for all the Google and Facebook creatives because they’re all drowned in a sea of sameness. Meanwhile, ours will be handmade and stand out from the crowd.

[00:45:40] Dan: Oh, I like that. And so it’s slightly similar, but it gets interesting differences in terms of response. But if you could wave a magic wand and make everyone in the industry know one thing, what would it be?

[00:45:51] Tim: Bounce rate and time on site and pages per visit are the same metric, just reported differently.

[00:46:00] Dan: I love it. I love it. And this is the last question and then you’re off the hook, Tim. So what’s your favourite way to wind down when you’re not being a CMO? 

[00:46:08] Tim: Watching films, obviously, yeah.

[00:46:10] Bhav: I assume Christopher Nolan is the favourite there Tim? 

[00:46:14] Tim: So yeah, right now he, he definitely is. So I usually have these phases. I think probably a couple of my favourite cinema going moments are there’s this moment. Like, purely for gimmicks and for popcorn enjoyment, I think Peter Jackson’s up there, there’s a scene in King Kong where the heroine is crawling over rocks, being chased by a T Rex, and you can see, like, the T Rex moving in the foreground, but just the top of it, the top of its head, and meanwhile, he gets like and this is, again, life or death stakes.

[00:46:49] Tim: Meanwhile, at the end, he gets, like, at, at the background, he gets like a second T-Rex opening his mouth and just covering her. And I’m sitting there and my seat seat going like, oh, this is great. And then you’ve got like Oppenheimer which the opposite end of the spectrum where you’ve got basically two stories that are being told at the same time, that have a similar ending. Both of these guys they have their lives ruined in a meeting and the way he just stacks everything up so you don’t notice it until the very end that that’s what’s happening is just mind blowingly great. 

[00:47:22] Dan: Amazing. Well, thanks for the recommendations and we’ll definitely be sure to check them out. I haven’t seen Oppenheimer yet. I was on the Barbie train and then we didn’t have time to go and do two. 

[00:47:30] Tim: Oh no. You’re definitely missing out. You’re missing out. 

[00:47:34] Dan: Well last thing, Tim, if anyone wants to find you, or find out more about the psychology of data or anything to do with where you work how can they do that? Where do they go? And what should they say? 

[00:47:43] Tim: Best on LinkedIn. I used to be on this on the bird channel website before the owner turned it crazy. But now I’m just on LinkedIn.

[00:47:52] Dan: Awesome well, thank you so much Tim for your time and for your patience in us getting this in the calendar. I’ll put everything in the show notes for all of our listeners and yeah, I’ll see you at the next MeasureCamp. [00:48:01] Tim: All right, see you then.

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