David Phillips: The Thing is Not The Thing
Updated: 4 days ago
I saw NLogic's President and COO David Phillips at a panel at Canadian Music Week not too long ago, and had some questions I needed to ask him. That, paired with the fact that he's leaving NLogic in the next few weeks, meant I just had to get him back for another chat.
NLogic has been a supporter of our podcast since 2017. In that time, we've had David on the show to discuss the radio industry's relationship with audience data. In the current day and age, we have more audience data than ever before, and often we can't see what is relevant in the moment.
In this episode, we speak to David about how he manages to take in all that data, and what the evaluation process looks like. We also talk about what radio stations can do to enhance their monetization opportunities, since it's become a bit of a trend that radio companies don't want to innovate. Listener be warned: this chat gets very technical, so hopefully you're a radio nerd like us.
The other aspect we explore is television- what's the business model of the future? Is it subscription/streaming services? Is it completely free? And most importantly for us, how does that play into potential business strategies for radio? The two might seem unrelated, but I promise they're more closely intertwined than you might think.
If you want to connect with David, or hear more of his thoughts, you can drop him a follow on LinkedIn.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill... Starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
One of our longstanding supporters is David Phillips from NLogic. NLogic does a great job in Canada helping their TV and radio partners decipher for solutions. With all that audience data, I had a chance to see David speak on a panel at Canadian Music Week about radio being up to the task of showing their value in a digital world. That was rather interesting. I scribbled down one note, and underlined it I wrote, the thing is not the thing, David, and I will tell you what that means shortly. He joins me from Toronto. You know, in the session that you did at Canadian Music Week, I was kind of taken aback by how the other people on stage and there was a lot of media buyers, people who handle ads across many platforms, but I kind of felt they treated radio as archaic from two fronts. One was on Attribution, but also in the amount of time that it takes to get advertising and copy together. And I felt that was unfair. Can you justify my feelings?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:01:08
Why did you think it was unfair?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:10
I thought it was unfair because I have always thought that radio could turn around, copy faster, and get advertising to air faster. But I guess it turns out that that's not the case any longer.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:01:21
I think there's a bunch of things going on, and also there's a difference between local sales and national. And I apologise. I have a very needy cat, but he literally goes in and puts his paw in water and splashes water all over my desk. So I have to cover up the thing. Okay, let's try that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:37
And by the way, what is the name of the cat?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:01:39
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:40
Okay, well, if Jackpot meows, we will give an audio credit.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:01:44
Okay. Right. So I think there's different ways of looking at how easy it is to buy something and put it on air. And I think that there are obviously aspects of radio that are easier. I mean, compared to, for example, TV, the actual creative itself is easier and cheaper. Getting that trafficked and out is easier and cheaper. I think the trouble is that the comparison isn't newspapers and TV anymore, it's digital platform. So if you're looking at how easy is it for someone to plan by report, get creative through on radio versus digital platforms, then I think there's every reason why people say, actually, radio is too difficult. And I think, as I told you, I'm leaving this job in a few weeks. So I'm not unleashed because I'm British. But one of the things that's kind of struck me and maybe frustrated me a bit in the last while, has been how radio could make it a lot easier to buy than it has done already. And I think a lot of that's just well, I don't know. I have theories, but I think a lot of that is an unwillingness to change, which with some exceptions, I think we've seen some good things like Audio Velocity from CBS, Validate from Patterson. Rogers ad manager tool. They just announced that. So there's little pockets of good stuff for sure. But I think in general, it is too difficult to buy for a lot of people compared to what they're now used to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:58
So can you talk a little bit about some of those things like Validate, and I did have the Rogers do it yourself ad buy. I kind of got excited and I've actually tried to do that with iHeart in the States and that's just go and buy some do it yourself advertising. So how do you look at that?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:03:13
Yeah, I think there's a bunch of things, but when we say easier, there's a lot of things about what easier means. And I think what we spent some time doing is trying to divide up what does it easier mean? How do you split that up into tasks you actually complete? So I think part of it is operating on a platform. So our hypothesis is that the way that we as people interact with everything these days is via a platform. Actually, you can book funerals on platforms. You can do everything you like on the platform. I don't know quite why funerals came to mind anyway, but almost one of the few things you can't do is buy a radio campaign. So if you're not just an agency buyer, but if an agency buyer or you're a local buyer, it's weird now that you can't go to a platform and buy radio. And so what that means is already radio is a bit out of step. I have to do things that I don't like doing, I don't really know how to do. I have to speak to someone. That feels weird. And I think underneath that there's another few things where when you're on a platform, the platforms are very good at giving you the impression that you're in charge. When you book a flight, you get to pick the date, you get to say yes or no, you get to change it. Which is how if you're buying stuff on the iHeart tool is probably the same, or if you buy it on Facebook or whatever, it's the same. Whereas when you're buying your radio, it's like the old paradigm of, you hand the people the money and then they take care of it. So subtly, what it feels like is that you're not in control of the campaign, that the person who's taking your money is. So that's tricky when the norm is not that anymore. And I think there's other elements too about sort of making it easier, and some of that is related to the data and stuff like that. So how easy is it to sell the purchase you're making to yourself? So if you're a young junior media buyer and you don't maybe listen to the radio, to a radio thing you may be listening to on a stream, or you're listening to Spotify, whatever. Selling the idea of buying radio is already a little bit of a stretch because you don't do it, although that's your job. You should act on behalf of your client, not on behalf of what you do, but not all of them do. And then you have to do it in a weird way by calling up someone, and then you have to sell the idea internally. So where's the dashboard? Where's the ROI and reporting? Where's the perception? That kind of stuff. So when we say making it easier and bringing broadcast user experience up to date, it's not just technology, it's all the things that the technology and the platform can bring to the buyer to make them feel more comfortable.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:25
And I think the other part of that, the B side, because you said that there was two things really at play here, and this part is the attribution. And that if you make a purchase in social media or digital or maybe some streaming or perhaps even podcast, that you get some attribution and that you can sort of track a little bit about that ad. But in radio, I think you've actually came to me and said, we've got these tools.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:05:48
Yeah, I think it's and again, the way we tend to think about it, or I can think about it, it's not so much what the Attribution does numerically, it's what that data does for your confidence. And it sounds a bit hippy dippy, but it's kind of like actually, the point of data is not really the number. It's the fact that it's giving you a sense that you haven't been ripped off, that you're making the right decision, and you can say those things to your boss if that's the kind of context you're working in. So things like Validate, which we've seen, we think is fantastic, begin to provide that, but it's still fairly isolated and it's still fairly small. And I think there's things that we could have already done across the whole gamut of forecast UX from being on a platform to offering reporting and dashboards that we've just been too slow on. And I think that's a bit frustrating.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:31
So tell me about your thoughts about Validate, because I think at one point I had somebody on this podcast talk about it, and I thought, NLogic is a sponsor of this podcast. I wonder how they would feel about that.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:06:42
I think it's awesome. Yeah, I mean, I've seen a little bit of it. We're not selling it, obviously, and that's cool, but I think anything that moves radio towards what is now expected of a medium you spend money on is to be fully supported. I think it's great. I think we chat to the guys at Patterson who initially started it. The really good guy is really smart, Roger, and is passionate and dedicated and those radio inside out and the folks who've got working on it are really good too. So I think it's fantastic. And again, it's all frankly, no one entity in this industry can make the improvements by themselves. We need to make there need to be a bunch of different things done by different entities in this industry, including perhaps validate, that generally will move in the aggregate, will move radio towards a better spot in terms of offering local buyers or national buyers what they expect.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:28
It almost seems to me that it's more important to be able to track the ad through the medium than it would be just to measure the whole of the medium itself.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:07:37
I think it's a bit of both. I mean, one thing- I wrote a blog post ages ago, which I know is on the tip of everyone's tongue, called Drinking Wine on the Roller Coaster. The point there is that what we did with digital, because of what digital was able to offer, by digital, I mean like the pure plays like Facebook and Google is we downweighted too much the context that the ads are in. So they were so focused on what the ad was, they didn't think about the context is. So I think Radio shouldn't fall into that trap. It doesn't really matter what the context is because it's the context that radio offers that actually adds that added value we talk a lot about. I think Radio connect is actually named. What Radio is able to do is create this incredible connections with its listeners, which that gets passed on to the advertisers and the listeners too, like, my boys are avid Kiss listeners in radio, and they will- they're 13 and 11- and they will talk about advertisers they heard on the Roz and Mocha Show because they love Roz and Mocha. So we shouldn't lose context in the grand scheme of things.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:35
And by the way, with Jackpot rubbing up against the microphone in that case, Jackpot has now earned an audio credit for this podcast.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:08:42
We'll go against the vet bills.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:44
There's three of us now on the podcast, David.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:08:47
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:48
So tell me a little bit about podcasting, because it appears appealing, but the only two bits of attribution you get are an IP address and a user agent. And then podcasters are forced to make a sale based on these two numbers. But most successful podcasters go a little bit outside of that and will try to sort of assert the value. And I'll use the example of Mary Anne Ivison with a podcast called let's Take This Outside, which is clearly a show about the outdoors.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:09:15
I thought it would be about fighting. I mean, I know you've been in disreputable bars where I'm sure you've uttered the phrase let's take this outside.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:21
Of course, there could also be a podcast called Let's Take This Upstairs. And that would be a... Let's Take This Outside. It is about the outdoors, but it's very easy for somebody who sells footwear to make a decision about a purchase on a podcast like that, because who else is going to listen to this but people who are outside?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:09:39
Yes, I think podcasting in a way has a couple of things going on in my mind, and you know 100 times more about podcast than I do. So this is an outsider's view in a way, but I think it obviously suffers from two things. One is, whenever anything's digital, there are outsized expectations of what can be offered within digital. So we've been talking a lot, especially to TV folks, but also to radio, about how are they tracking, for example, when a programme airs, yes, it airs on CTV, but it also airs on CTV.ca, or airs on the Corus through Stack on Amazon. And similar to a podcast, if you like what you're getting back on that you would think could be a huge amount of data. And actually it's often pretty restricted. It's kind of like number of streams or stop starts and stuff like that. And it's not what you'd expect. I think sometimes with podcasting you sometimes have that too. You go, okay, it's a stream, so you should be able to get this huge room of data and depending on the supply, you don't often have that. Podcast, I think, has the additional challenge, which is a sort of microcosm of where all the media industry is going, which is each individual one is usually quite small, which is obviously why smart people like yourself and others aggregating podcasts together to create networks. There's a lot of even if I can get the data, the data and size itself didn't lend itself to a lot of reporting, which I think it also goes back to that point of context. But fundamentally, when we're thinking about selling something and the role that numbers play in that, we can go too far in thinking you have to support everything with data, you also have to use your brain to go, let's take it outside. It's obvious to your point, it's obvious you should be advertising there. So the contextual cell still has to be very relevant. And I guess that's another thing. That what I found. Sometimes the broadcast tends to sort of try and copy whatever digital is doing, but actually it needs to go somewhere in between. It needs to go, okay, let's do the things that digital offers that people like, but in our own way, and let's take the strength of our medium specifically into account. So that's often context, it's not just sheer numbers.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:34
Well, I think back to the time when you reached out to me and said that this podcast seems to be a match for what we're doing at NLogic, and let's get together and find some ways to get into the ears of radio people.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:11:45
Yeah, it's better for us to be somewhere where- I mean Matt, I know of few people that are respected more than you in the industry. You're obviously a behemoth striding through the airwaves, but you have a connection with your listeners about- because you have a specialty and you have an authoritative voice and you bring in authoritative voices, so the sheer numbers of that, although they're good, are less relevant to us. It's a good case study. We can advertise in the general interest and possibly reach more people, but the effectiveness is going to be far lower than supporting folks like you.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:17
And which is, I think, speaks to really about what a lot of advertisers want. Maybe they don't want a mass audience, maybe they just want the right audience.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:12:24
Yeah. And I think what we need to figure out, what we need to do a better job in the industry, is making those decisions for advertisers easy. And I think sometimes what we've done is make those decisions to invest in us harder than it needs to be. So that goes back to the start of our conversation, which is, what does easy mean? So if I'm a marketer, what would make it easy for me to say, I'm spending money here and part of that is going to be better? And I chat to someone who's a CMO of a bank, and her digital versus linear sort of broadcast split was way out of whack. It was like 80% to 20%. And the reason was she was basically an accountant by trade, as you'd expect, and she found it really easy to justify the spend because she had lots of data. It wasn't a good buy because it was too biassed towards a set of media, but the digital media made itself easy to justify for her. So, you know, I sometimes think the broadcasters the hard things well, and the easy things poorly. The hard thing is creating this content that literally millions of people love. The easy thing is telling advertisers, well, it's a good thing in the way that they want to see it. And sometimes we've not been as good at that as we could have been.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:28
I look at the top ten in television in Canada. It looks exactly what I would expect for the top ten television programmes in Canada.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:13:38
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:39
That stuff is being measured many different ways. And I'm thinking, okay, so, you know, it could be consumed through a PBR, it could be streamed, like you said, it could be on a CTV.ca. I'm looking right now at my television, which actually has Canada versus Japan, which I think is being streamed.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:13:58
Yeah. Is that TSN or something?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:59
Yeah, it's being streamed from somewhere on this television off to the side. Help me out a little bit on the radio. We know how radio is measured, we know how we come up with those numbers for the audience. But tell me a little bit about the television side and also your trip to Britain last year and what they're doing perhaps in Europe.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:14:17
Yeah, sure. I think it actually applies to both. It's more evident in TV. So TV is, if you like, the precursor to what I think is going to happen, and it's happening in a different way in radio. So we recently reset our strategy as a company based on this. It's an ugly term, which I need to improve, but this idea of what we're calling a multimodal universe, in other words, if we're trying to say if I'm an advertiser or even if I'm in programming, I want to say, okay, I want to see how many people saw my ad or how many people saw my content. It's a really, really simple question that's increasingly difficult to answer because you have, as each distribution stack emerges, whether that's stacks from Amazon, whether that's Netflix, whether that's whatever, that's a different set of unconnected disconnected data from each other. So I now have some of my audience coming through. I have an audience to the same programme campaign coming through potentially ten places, for example, and those are all disconnected. So how do I connect those together? And it's a massive problem, and it's a problem that, frankly, no one across the world has solved. What's crazy is there isn't a single company in the world that has a currency of cross platform adjustment in TV, which is nuts, considering how big an industry is and how simple a question it seems to be. But it's actually a very difficult question. So we think we're entering into a phase where there's going to be lots of different numbers banding around for radio and for TV, but particularly in TV, just because there's more distribution stack. And so navigating that for a marketer is going to be really hard, and navigating that for a broadcast is going to be really hard. But for companies like NLogic, there's also, we believe, opportunities in that. How do we help people stitch those datasets together in ways that make sense? So that's what we're really focused on right now. But as a consumer, it's increasingly baffling. We do every week in our Friday meetings, we have media recommendations. And the first question when everyone says, okay, I'll watch this thing, is, where was it? And half the time people were like, not sure. I think it was on Crave. Maybe it's a sort of small reflection of the fact that it's getting a bit confusing out there. I do think there's going to be aggregation. Again, I think that we're in a phase where there's just too many there's too much being spent on too much content across too many platforms. And that's going to slow down, but not for a little while.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:21
Yes, we definitely have a content, because you can go through a Netflix or you can go through a Crave and get to the end of it after ten minutes and say, I think I'm at the end of this book, and change it to something else.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:16:32
And it's also preposterous to the amounts of money being spent and the quality of the stuff. I mean, it's great in a way, but it's not sustainable. And one of the things we did when we set our strategy is I'm very boring in lots of ways. And one of those I love history. And I think if you look back, you see every industry goes through sort of expansion and contraction. So I was trying to go, well, where are we in those cycles? And I think we're in a kind of expansion phase. The amount that's being spent on content, the number of platforms there are, the number of suppliers trying to make sense to those platforms, it's not sustainable. It's a VC money, private equity funded money looking to get scale before there's some kind of consolidation. So I think we're going to see that in the next few years and possibly quicker than before because the economic situation getting a bit tight.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:15
In just a second, more with David, including the good data versus bad data discussion and how to read it. And you've heard by now David is leaving NLogic shortly. We're going to talk about what he's accomplished and what's next. And did you know that we're also headed into one of the busiest sports periods, like, ever? So why not talk a little bit about sports viewing? There's more. There's always more. Including a transcription of this episode at Soundoffpodcast.com.
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The Sound Off Podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:00
Yeah, this is a fascinating part of the conversation we're going to enter into here because we have- well, it's already kind of started with the Japan Canada friendly on the telly right now, and that's the World Cup is coming in November with television sweeps with peak NFL football, the World Cup appearing at different hours around the clock. This is going to be the biggest sports consumption month in the history of mankind coming up. So I'm looking at it going, what's that going to do to the Netflix and the Craves and the other TV viewing that's out there?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:18:34
Yeah, I think it's funny because one of the things, one of the stats I think is most overlooked is total time spent with media. So if you look at ten year trend of total time spent with media per consumer, it goes up every single year. And I think that what that talks to is a misconception we often have. So we often think that a new thing coming in isn't either or to what's existing. And it's almost never that. It's almost always a by band. And I think total time spent shows that because as new things come in like Netflix or Spotify, it doesn't necessarily reduce the linear bit or the bit that was there already by much, it's typically additive. So I think if you're looking at stuff like the World Cup coming up and the NFL, which is the wrong type of football because you use your hands for it, should be called handball. I don't think it necessarily means you're going to see a dip in Netflix and Crave. I think the other- the AVOD/SVOD players, I think it's typically additive. I think the question of sports and broadcasting in general is a massively interesting one, because that was sort of the last bastion of broadcasting is really sports because it has to be live. It has to be- the infrastructure required to get it and the expertise required to get it going. It's massive. But you're seeing Amazon has funded rights and Apple bought MLS rights. So that's a bit scary because you're looking at how much cash, in particular how much cash Apple has. It could buy the NHL and forgot it bought it because it's got so much money. So that's going to be interesting to watch is if the streamers get really serious about sports and live. Netflix is doing a- Dave Chappelle or someone is doing something live on Netflix next year, which is obviously a technical test of can we do sports or other live stuff and that's going to be interesting. Who buys the NHL rights in Canada next and rogers it up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:16
So that's a great question. I'm glad you raised it because we did have a podcast episode going back to about 2017 when the NFL sold the rights in Canada to DAZN and a lot of people just couldn't get a grasp on it. And at the same time, DAZN wasn't really ready with the technology to deliver the NFL. A number of problems. And I'd like to think that this podcast actually forced their hand into-
David Phillips (Guest) 00:20:40
Would suspect it's at least a factor.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:43
I know for a fact that the CEO of DAZN listened to the episode, and there were questions asked about this podcast when it happened. But I've been thinking a lot about sports and streaming and especially problematic for something like the NHL that feels like the number five sport in North America even now behind MLS. And then if you do go and sell everything to Apple and grab a big cheque, that you really run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:21:09
That was a huge risk. I think it was yesterday Apple announced their MLS pricing. I think it's $15 a month. And you go, you're going to make yourself a niche sport that's funded by Apple. I think there's definitely- in the UK, for example, I know there's legislation where certain events have to be broadcast free to air. So I think it was like the World Cup and the kind of Ashes or whatever in cricket. But I think if you're a sports rights holder, you've got to balance off a couple of things. I saw this interesting analysis. There was a guy called Ian Whittaker, who's really, really worth following on Twitter, on LinkedIn. He's a financial analyst in the UK who sort of writes about streaming, but from a financial analyst point of view, which is a perspective you don't always see. And he was saying that if you look at what Amazon has done to the NFL in the US, NFL loved it because it's a bunch of money. What's interesting is that the median viewership age of the NFL and Amazon is lower than broadcast TV. So that's also- is that good for the NFL? Probably because you're bringing new people in. I've got again, sample of two. But my boys and the NHL have an interesting relationship, and the NBA is becoming a bit more interesting to them because of the demographics and because of the ease of play and that kind of stuff. So all these sports rights holders seem to be in such a dominant position until you realise that they've got to take into account the growth of their sports. If you're Gary Bettman or whatever, your primary responsibility is to look after the future of the sports for your owners. And so if you're just isolating it because you've got a bit more money out of Amazon, that's very short term thinking. So I think it's impossible to predict. But you could certainly see what you're seeing in other countries where Amazon gets a few, the broadcaster gets a few. So the NHL contract, when it comes up in Canada, it's going to be interesting to see. I can't imagine it going fully to a streamer, but you can't imagine the streamer, a streamer getting some.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:51
Even today, I actually make the purchase of both. I'll buy the cable television and DAZN for the NFL, so I am effectively paying twice.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:22:59
Yeah. And you buy NHL.com. You can buy the NHL app. So you could do it now. You're right.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:04
The Gen Z's in this house would like to watch the NFL on cable because they double screen, they watch with their computer and their fantasy scores will update faster than the play on DAZN because they can't stream the play as fast as Yahoo can give them the result of their player. I watched this go and I said, hey guys, I got DAZN and it's like, dad, can you go back to the cable?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:23:28
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:29
Because we want to see everything in as close to real time as possible. And I just finished watching the Playlist, which is about Spotify, and I watched that on Netflix, but Daniel Eck was really all about the speed. Can we get the song to the device in under a certain amount of time? And speed is really going to determine whether or not streaming does take off. Because if my fantasy score is coming in before- it acts as a spoiler.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:23:54
Yeah, right. Essentially, I had dinner with Neil MacElhenny any obviously his head of numerous earlier this week, and at one point in his. Life. He was in charge of CBC Sports and he was talking about a little bit of, like, the infrastructure, like the trucks and the people and the kind of- what you need to get NHL aired and it's insane. Just the infrastructure you need and the amount of work you need. I think sometimes, again, this is both one of those classic either/or versus both/and questions. We tend to think Apple or Amazon just throw money at it and be fine. It's like, it's not that easy always, especially with sports, I think, to recreate all that infrastructure and that expertise and that knowledge. So we'll see. They do have a tonne of cash, that's for sure.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:37
I do like the NFL's approach where they'll just take the Thursday night game, give it to Amazon and see what they have. You can create different sort of tiers of exclusivity, right?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:24:47
Well, yeah, and even the more buyers you've got, I mean, nothing is going to terrify a broadcaster more than the NFL or the NHL or the Premier League going oh, by the way, Amazon or Apple is interested.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:56
Whoever thought the term spoiler would have such relevance today? Because if the live event can be spoiled, such as your favourite football match, it makes it very difficult to exist on the planet.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:25:07
But there's a very iconic old TV sketch from the 60s in the UK where a man was spent all day trying to avoid knowing the football score because it was going to air at like, 07:00 on TV. But the match finished at three, so he's desperately going around town not trying to look at electricians windows. The same, but it's in milliseconds as opposed to hours now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:27
Is your wife home?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:25:28
No, she's teaching today.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:30
Okay, you'll have to answer the question for her, then. Tell me about the thing is not the thing.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:25:36
Oh, yeah, I'm glad she's getting credit for that, because that is her phrase. So there's two mantras I run my business life by, and one is ends not means. So focus on the end is not the means. And the better version of that is the thing is not the thing. And the thing is not the thing is, essentially that the driver of behaviour is never the reason that you're given, or rarely the reason you're given. So when people say, well, the best example is my boy's autistic, and one time my grandparents, his grandparents were coming to stay. And I said, Are you excited for Grandma grandpa to come? And he's like, no. Okay, cool. Why? And he said the sofa. Because the sofa, we're like, this makes no sense whatsoever. He's not like he's uneloquent, but we unpacked it a little bit. So the thing he was telling me was, I don't want Grandma and Grandpa to come because of the sofa. When we unpacked it, what happened was he loves routine. Every morning he'd have breakfast, go downstairs to the sofa, and watch TV. When Grandma and Grandpa came, my wife and I would go on the soap, turn the sofa into a sofa bed at night. So sometimes when he came down for breakfast, after breakfast to watch the TV, he didn't have a sofa. There was a sofa bed there. So in his mind, the thing was- the real thing. When grandma and grandpa come, my routine is disrupted. So when we figured that out, we went, look, if we made sure that the sofa was going back into a sofa by the time you come and watch TV, would you be OK with them coming? He said yes, and they were. So the trick there is to figure out what's really driving behaviour. And so this leads to a lot of the business strategy that we've adopted around Broadcast UX, which is people don't like platforms because of platforms. They like platforms because it gives them a sense of control, it gives them a sense of comfort. So whenever you're trying to figure out what someone wants personally, professionally, don't take it at face value. Always figure out what the driver of behaviour is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:08
I absolutely love it. So, by the way, that is the title of this episode and I wrote that down when you mentioned it.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:27:14
Yeah, I should actually just try and erase history and say that I came up with this great phrase.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:18
It also reminds me a little bit about data attribution, and sometimes we get some and then we start to make decisions about all the wrong things.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:27:27
Well, data interpretation is a whole other area. And I think when we're looking at- it's funny now that I'm about again about to leave this job for another one, sometimes I spent a bit of time looking at all presentations I've done, and I gave this presentation to what was Shaw Media, which shows you how long it was, about 10-12 years ago, about data. And the fundamental thing is that very few people understand how to interpret data because we ask too much of it, we don't ask enough of it, and that's still true today. We either expect so when we ask too much of it, we expect it to tell us truth and we expect it to tell us everything we need to know. And we don't ask enough of it because we don't ask, well, where does it come from? What's it good at, what's it not good at? And I think you're seeing that all the time now, where people equate data with ROI and those two things are very, very different. A way of expressing it is data, but it's not the only way. And so I think as an industry, if we were to do one thing that would help us, it would be, everyone has to go on a "how to understand data" course, because we're all using it and making decisions based on it. And I would argue less than 1% of us know what to do with it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:27
Well, that course can follow Media Literacy 101.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:28:30
Yes. Which is also sadly lacking. And I love agencies to bits, but they were themselves admitting- I was at a PGTV conference in Toronto recently, and there was a sort of agency president's panel and they were like, unprompted, basically said our education on broadcast and how to buy broadcast is, like, woefully lacking. We don't invest enough in our staff in terms of how to buy and sell broadcast. And that's a problem.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:53
You mentioned it. You're leaving NLogic. Where are you going?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:28:57
I'm joining the circus.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:58
David Phillips (Guest) 00:28:59
I know. I'm going to be a- no, I can't say, I'm afraid. Hopefully I can say in December, but I can't say I can say it's not Netflix, because I did say that as a joke to some people, but it wasn't funny.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:09
Tell me about some of the fun things you built at NLogic that you're most proud of.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:29:12
I've been thinking a lot about that, as you can probably imagine. I think that there's obviously things we can point to that are tangible. So I did a list recently, the things we launched that were first in North America, and there's about ten things, which for a relatively small company in Canada is pretty cool. Like the first ever APIs for data, the first ever trading platform for AEO. And this is going to sound horribly cheesy, but actually what I'm most proud of is the team and the culture. So we recently did a survey internally, and one of our objectives, the company internal objectives, is to make energy the best place people have ever worked, which is a kind of lofty goal considering people who work in different places. And the most recent survey, 88% people said it was the best place they've ever worked. Which that's probably the thing I'm most proud of, actually. But talking about the thing is not the thing. I think the work that we're doing, the area we're in, typically doesn't have a lot of significance. Like, it's cool and it's interesting, it's creative and it's important, but it's not, like, significant significant. But the way we treat people, the way we treat our vendors, the way we treat our clients, and the way we treat our team, I think has kind of like, lasting significance. So I think that's the thing I'm most proud of, that we created a team that is just full of excellent people, like the My leadership team, all the way through that. Everyone in that group, they're just really smart, they're really kind, they're really funny. If we have fights, it's usually be over because people want better things for our clients, which is a good fight to have. So I think that's the thing I'm looking back will last longest in my memory.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:32
So what was the work from home strategy from March 2020? I think obviously you have, but how did you migrate people back to the office?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:30:42
Well, we haven't, but I think what's funny about this podcast is you're asking me to predict things. They're very confidently saying this is what's going to happen. And I remember the week before we all started working from home, a friend of mine said, you mark my words, next week we'll be working from home. I was like, don't be an idiot. Two days later I was like, okay everyone, so yeah, we've been basically working- predominantly working from home ever since that March date. And what we're trying to do is sort of what we're going to purposeful time back in the office. So for example, what we're doing now to go back to the broadcast UX thing is we've given people budgets to basically- and we're working with food banks so that we can understand firsthand what it's really like to buy a campaign on Instagram or on Spotify. We're splitting ourselves into teams and each team has got a budget and they will buy a campaign. We've got the Creative Food Bank and Food Banker Alliance us to do it. So we're going to be doing campaigns together as a group. So we're doing that in person and stuff like that and sort of social events, but typically we've just been remote.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:39
Tell me about that Friday meeting. First of all, I generally have like a small amount of disdain for anybody who schedules the meeting on Friday, maybe after twelve noon. But what is that Friday meeting like?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:31:53
The Friday mornings? Okay, if I take a little step back, one thing I've come to realise in this whole work from home thing is that the most important thing for any leader to figure out is meetings. Because meetings are the best of times or the worst of times. And I'm in some meetings where I literally want to stick needles in my eyes and some meetings are actually enjoyable. So I think one of the most important thing a leader can do is like how do you make a meeting enjoyable? And so Friday mornings we get together and it's crossfunt company. We basically just a product update. So like where are we with new products? We've got tonnes of different things going on like new products launching and current products being have some features added and that kind of stuff, so go to that. But the bit that everyone might look forward to is we have media recommendations, book recommendations and other so media recommendations with shows you've seen or programmes you've watched. Other is like buy people Christmas presents or something, whatever, and book recommendations. And for some reason whenever I see something I'm so boring I don't watch anything. But if I do it's a media recommendation spin. It seems tough, but I think it's one of those things that if you make a meeting slightly enjoyable then more people will come to and contribute. It not that more people are good, but don't make the people who come to it will appreciate it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:55
I don't think that's daft. I mean, it's actually marketing because word of mouth is the number one form of recommendations to watch a piece of content.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:33:04
But it's hard to measure, so we always forget about it. We go, look at my social media likes, and I'll be like, no, no, that's like fifth on the list. Word of mouth is the biggest. But everyone's like, that's hard. Let's pretend it doesn't exist.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:16
If somebody was on Facebook and they said that they really enjoyed the show and then put a trailer to the show, is that word of mouth? That feels word of mouth to me.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:33:25
Probably, yeah. But, like, actual word of mouth, like, so this is how, you know, this is this classic we think we're rational, we're not. I've got a 2007 Honda Fit. I'm getting a new job. I'm like, it's probably time it's visibly knackered. Like, if someone gave me $400 for it, I'd be lucky. It's rusting or whatever. I think it's probably time for me to get a new car. So I'm thinking about getting a new car. I grew up in a massive car head. My first job was working on a car magazine. Still look at a car magazine online, whatever. But when it came to it, I picked my friend Peter and said, peter, what car do you think I should get? He went, Get this. And I was like, all right.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:33:55
I know a bunch of, like, cars. But I'm like, I don't know. I'll ask Pete.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:58
Well, what car'd you get?
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:01
I don't get anything yet. I probably won't. I'm too lazy. But Audi A4, and my wife thinks it's the most boring car. Very secondhand, just in case everyone thinks I'm being posh, she looked at it and she was just like, oh, is that the person meeting you? Which is a bit harsh.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:16
Okay, well, just from what I see in the picture here, I don't see any moving boxes, so it doesn't look like you're leaving the country.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:22
No, I'm staying in the country. Yes.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:25
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:26
I love Canada. It's great. I'm about to become a citizen, which is very exciting.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:29
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:30
I decided to take the test. The test is really hard. I thought it would be like, how many letters are in the word Canada? And it's like, name the four fundamental rights and freedoms and whatever. I thought there's eight. I was like, oh, I'm actually going to have to study for this.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:42
I think you said you were a history buff.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:44
Yeah, but the only things I want to study. I really, really try. I really try to be interested in it. And I will continue trying.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:54
1837, people were angry and set fire to Parliament.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:34:58
Yeah, it's like the Rouge River and stuff. And I think something happened in 1812.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:03
Yeah. Well, we burned down the White House in 1812.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:35:06
That's pretty good.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:07
Yeah. And then 2022, people were upset again and brought their trucks to Ottawa.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:35:13
Freedom fighting, they told. Some pitchforks and muskets, some horns and misspelt signs having no credit to them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:21
David, thanks so much for being on the show.
David Phillips (Guest) 00:35:21
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:35:24
The Sound Off Podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Soundoff Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.