Season 02 • Episode 08
Charles Manning, Kochava
Widely considered one of the true geniuses in the mobile industry…just to name one of the industries he does business in…Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava joins Ariel and Louis to discuss a wide range of topics. From the expected Talking Nerdy about the upcoming IDFA deprecation and public speaking advice, to the unexpected personal adventures and endeavors such as the story of how Kochava chose Sandpoint, ID for their location, how it is working in the same company with his wife, living in and traveling all over the world, and of course what time-to-relax beverages does he partake in when needed. Grab your favorite beverage, and sit back and enjoy a wide ranging conversation with one of mobile tech’s brightest minds.
Ariel: Hi, Louis Tanguay, Managing Director of App Growth Summit.
Louis: Hello, Ariel Neidermeier, queen of content at App Grow Summit and other endeavors.
Ariel: How are you doing today?
Louis: I’m amazing. How are you doing on this unusually unseasonally hot day?
Ariel: It is a hot day in San Francisco. I’m doing great because we’re joined by such an enigmatic guest. Here we have Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava.
Charles: I’m so thrilled to be here.
Louis: We are excited to have a verifiable genius on with us. You’re going to be too smart for this podcast, but we’ll try to keep up with you.
Ariel: I’m really excited to talk to you, Charles, because every time I talk to anyone in this industry, they always talk about how much of a genius you are. They’re always like, “Yeah, he’s super smart, like, super, super smart.”
Charles: That’s quite a flattering comment from you guys. You guys are in the pinnacle, the keystone of this space, so, it’s a flattering comment to hear from you guys.
Louis: See, already the smartest answer.
Ariel: Tell us about Kochava and what you guys are up to these days.
Charles: Yeah, you bet. I mean, like anyone, 2020 is filled with adventure. We like everyone else went through some really exciting times in kind of preparation of the quarantine. We have an annual event every year in February, which we call our Kochava Summit. And it’s become a really neat and pretty special event, and it’s at Sandpoint. And we have like 220, 250 people to come here. And the reason why it’s only 220 to 250, is because there’s only so many beds and hotels in this town. And so, it’s kind of like a natural limiter.
Charles (cont’d): Anyways, the reason I bring it up is, that was kind of like the D-day moment between pre-COVID affecting the United States and post-COVID affecting the United States. Literally, we were talking about COVID at the event, but then kind of the wheels fell off, Mobile World Congress was canceled the week and a half later right at the last minute. So kind of circling back on your question about how this year has been, or I guess you asked, how is Kochava or what’s going on with Kochava. I think just like everyone else, we’ve been going through that kind of transition of operating the business in quarantine. I’m super happy to report our traffic is up 50% over last year this time. So, remarkable. I certainly wouldn’t have expected that. But then when you have hindsight, you look back on it and say, well, it makes a lot of sense, actually, based on the types of customers that we have and the dynamics.
Charles (cont’d): So, really thrilled that we’ve continued to grow despite some of the kind of craziness that’s happened in the overall economy over the last year. But then, obviously, everyone in this space knows that there was another whole kind of atom bomb this summer with the WWDC. And that was really interesting. We spent a fair amount of time kind of thinking about messaging, something we’ve been thinking about, and talking about, what happens if, and we kind of war-gamed out, IDFA goes away, IDFA gets modulated. We kind of didn’t think that IDFA would be an opt-in thing so that was a bit of a surprise to us, for sure.
Charles (cont’d): So, while we spent a bit of time kind of thinking about where is this going to shoot the trajectory of the space, where do we position ourselves to best serve our customers? What happened in that time was, we spent a ton of time educating and communicating with customers. So, if you were to look at a spectrum of percentages, disproportionate amount of time just doing one on one meetings, because while Apple may have had this fabulous event that was really well produced, well scripted, awesome camera shots, there wasn’t a lot of communication after the event on what happens now for customer x and what happens now for customer y. And so, I think there was a whole industry that was doing briefing calls with clients and kind of saying, this is our read of the situation, this is what we’re doing to support you, this is the implication. Read the tea leaves, this is the way this is going to look.
Charles (cont’d): Honestly the last four months, three months, that’s been what most of that time has been marked with. So, growth, weirdness of social distancing, lots of meetings. That’s the summarization of 2020.
Louis: Wish those meetings were in-person at an event conference series, something that was industry leader and events…
Ariel: Yeah, I don’t know any of those. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever [inaudible 00:05:24]
Louis: I think App Growth Summit was pretty good, right?
Ariel: Yeah. AGS, yeah, I think I heard of that one.
Louis: AGS, speaking to third-person like Karl Malone, we were actually the last-
Charles: Were you guys the last real deal?
Charles: That doesn’t surprise me the day.
Ariel: I’m not trying to say that this is a good thing, but actually the day we had our event was also the day they announced a state of emergency in LA, which they mostly do for funding, but it was crazy. But we had a great event.
Louis: They announced the state of emergency so that they could release the funds for when they needed it. And then the lockdown happened about a week or two later.
Ariel: A week later, yeah.
Louis: So we were the last, the Mohicans.
Ariel: Yeah. There continues to be lots of uncertainty with the IDFA and what Apple is looking for, but where do you see the industry kind of moving? What are those calls, what are you saying on those calls that you’re having?
Charles: Well, I tell you. I had the privilege of joining you guys for an IDFA specific session, if you haven’t already listened or seen it from a recording from these guys at AGS, you should look it up. These guys put together a fabulous group of audience or participants in a panel.
Louis: I’ll wire you your money later.
Charles: But I tell you, I think there was, the idea that everything was going to be ready by early September, was really a crunch moment. And I think it wasn’t just us, everyone in the industry was kind of thinking about, okay, we got to have a solution so we can serve customers. Specifically for SKAd, specifically for what happens in the case where IDFA opt-in doesn’t happen on one side or the other. And we had to kind of like walk through, how does our attribution waterfall work, what are the changes that we need to make? The good news is our product is super, super configurable. You can literally be in charge of how that waterfall happens when you’re a marketer using our tool.
Charles (cont’d): And so, it wasn’t a big stretch to get to that date, but it was still pretty panic-ridden. And so, a lot of our briefing calls were taking into context, okay, advertiser x, here’s where your media mix looks. Here are the things that are going to be affected. Facebook and Google haven’t weighed in yet on their policy, and we’re two weeks away from this going out. So, we’ll be ready when they are, but just so you know, you should maybe think about doing a shift in media planning, and what does that look like?
Charles (cont’d): I think the kind of appalled response from customers was just like, okay, let me get this straight, I’m not the only one that’s in the dark. Everyone just kind of assumes they’re the only one that maybe didn’t get the memo, and then you have one of these meetings where you’re like, you’re the measurement platform, the attribution platform. You’re integrated with all these different sources. You don’t have more clarity and Facebook hasn’t weighed in, and Google hasn’t weighed in. That’s the way it works. We’ll let you know as soon as they come in with some responses. So it was a surprise, I think, for everyone.
Louis: Does that make it more difficult to pitch your own services, not just for you, but for all the MMPs because you’re kind of all in a holding pattern. I know that since that announcement has been made, a lot of people have come up with their own individual solutions on SKAdNetwork and how they’re still going to be able to do their job. What kind of challenges are you trying to overcome? How do you position it to any of the apps that are listening?
Charles: I would argue that we have the best, I’m biased, obviously…
Louis: I hope you wouldn’t say you’re the worst.
Charles: We’re kind of average.
Ariel: Or the second best, we’re the second-best.
Charles: We genuinely believe we have the best implementation for SKAdNetwork because of how we had been thinking through this. And specifically, if you get into the details, we’ve applied these conversion models to a conversion bit protocol and without kind of putting on your propeller-head hat and kind of getting into the weeds. The way Apple implemented SKAdNetwork for identifying lifetime value is super non-approachable to the average ad ops person. And so, I’ll just leave it at that.
Charles (cont’d): And so the implication of that is, you need to have a mechanism that makes it really straightforward where they can take their first-party analytics data and have that inform this deterministic, but non-identifiable cohort-based measurement thing that is SKAd, so that it can rinse and repeat super quick. And that’s what we built, a simple way to make that possible and to have it coexist with your first-party data, which Apple says there’s no problem, obviously, with doing analytics around first-party data. So that’s a valuable thing.
Charles (cont’d): So, for us, it was kind of like a reassuring message to our customers to say, we have this outstanding platform, we’re not a single purpose MMP. These are the reasons from a broad perspective why you use our product, and such a time as this is the reason why this is a great partnership and relationship. If you were just paying us as a single purpose MMP, mobile attribution company, either the MMP needs to quickly add a lot of capabilities, or the customer is kind of left in a lurch on how to solve this bigger picture.
Louis: What do you think happens with retargeting companies and, similarly, DSPs?
Charles: There’s a bunch of things that are happening. I think retargeting companies have provided a tremendous value across the ecosystem. And obviously, without a device ID being always present, it will absolutely impact their business and their capacity to retarget those audiences. I’ve thought about, there’s kind of this going in assumption that with IDFA opt-in, there’s going to be a super low opt-in rate. And it would be normal to assume that. When you think about the continual changes to the Apple privacy page that’s posted on their website, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but that’s kind of updated a handful of times since WWDC. And it hasn’t necessarily been announced that it’s been updated, but very material changes have been added to that page.
Charles (cont’d): One of the things that has been added is this kind of assertion that if you use single sign-on services, you have to do ATT opt-in. If you have any other kind of offline cross-compare of data, you have to do ATT opt-in. Even though it has nothing to do with the operating system on the Apple device. Offline cross-compare of data, ATT opt-in. It begs a really interesting question about enforcement, but the implication of that is prior to some of those clarifying updates on that page from Apple, there is a lot of, there’s a strong sentiment that, oh, offline is totally okay, we’ll use hashed email addresses for retargeting. I think hashed emails will be used. But what Apple is really drawing a clear line in the sand on is that you have to do ATT opt-in if you’re going to do that. Otherwise, you stand a risk of being kicked out.
Charles (cont’d): I think one of two things will happen, and maybe it’s both. One is, there’s going to be a lot of fear and trembling about, is my app going to get kicked out if there’s even the inclination that I’m doing some of these things that they’re saying I’m not allowed to do without doing ATT opt-in. That’s the worry of any app developer with their products. The other side of it is, there’s so many considerations that require ATT opt-in, will this not just turn into kind of consent nagging, where you’re getting tapped in the sternum every other second about saying, “Do you opt-in? Do you opt-in? Do you opt-in?”
Charles (cont’d): Now, you can only do it once for a particular app, but I’m saying, will all these requirements make every app just ask for consent period, the end. And as a consumer, we’ll start to get behaviorally normalized to just yeah, let’s just opt-in, in which case, the opt-in rates will not be as low as we think. And in fact, they’ll be high. And circling back to your question, how will this affect retargeting? Probably not in a very meaningful way. It’ll probably just be the same way as it’s always been. So it’s really going to be interesting to see what happens behaviorally between those two dynamics.
Ariel: Yeah, yeah.
Louis: Now that we have talked nerdy, usually we’ll start with some fun questions and go talk some nerdy talk, and then finish up with a few things. But now that we’ve gotten all the smart stuff, we’ll go on to you Charles as the human being.
Ariel: Well, first, I feel like we should ask, because this is called Appy Hour, what is your drink, Charles?
Louis: Yeah, your wind-down drink, or your windup drink. Hey, who knows? Charles getting crunk.
Charles: I think that prior to this lockdown, I was probably on the road 85% of my life, which was pretty crazy. You’re not on the road and not doing things. You’re meeting with clients, you’re going to events like you guys’, and there’s always drinks. And I will say that old fashion was my go-to, and has been my go-to for many, many years. But I don’t typically mix old fashions at home. So, I usually just crush a bottle of wine with my wife.
Ariel: Crush it.
Louis: And your wife also works at Kochava.
Charles: She does. She runs brand. So she has been with the company for six years, but been with the company since the beginning. We met working together.
Louis: At Kochava or before?
Charles: Sorry, it was a long time ago. I feel like I’m super old. It was a long time ago. We met working together. We started dating, and the people that we worked with didn’t know.
Louis: Did you meet at a happy hour?
Charles: We didn’t. We were in the same war room office thing. So, really thoughtful of not disrupting the culture of that environment, I think just acclimated in our relationship that work is work. And one of the funny things that she always says, it’s not super sexy at all to say this, but the comment was that her first attraction to me was my work ethic. Fabulous. We met in that environment and we’ve been very normalized to working together ever since then. She was running, she does brand, she does identity. She’s been a graphic designer for her whole career. She had her own consulting firm. I asked her to always do stuff on the side for Kochava while I was starting Kochava. Eventually there was enough to do, I said, you need to fire all these clients and get to work over here. There’s too much to do. And thankfully, she did.
Louis: So you had to do two proposals?
Charles: Yes. There’s always proposals.
Louis: Double opt-in.
Ariel: I think it really says something about your relationship that you guys thrive in a work context too. And you also have figured out ways to separate it, I assume?
Charles: For sure. It’s tough for me to separate work, I think about it a lot. This sounds kind of lame, but one of the great things about working together is that coming home the first 25 or 30 minutes isn’t debriefing the context of whatever you’re going to share because they already have the context, you can just go straight to the content.
Ariel: You’re just always optimizing.
Charles: So it’s just an optimized, exactly, exactly. Really, I think it is a unique thing. There’s a lot of people that work at the company that when they first came on, they were like, hang on, let me get this straight, these two are married? That’s probably going to be super uncomfortable and weird and what’s going to happen here? I know again, maybe I’m not looking through it with everyone’s glasses, but it’s not weird at all. I think what’s weird for people is when I’m really impassioned about a topic, and Kimberly happens to be the target of that passion. That’s not abnormal that it’s like, no, we have to do it this way, and it doesn’t really have a bearing that she happens to be the person that is my wife.
Ariel: You mean like if you guys have a big serious discussion at work, it’s like it really is just a work discussion?
Ariel: Yeah. That’s great.
Charles: Yeah, let’s load it up.
Ariel: You go for it.
Louis: That’s amazing. That’s something I think is outstanding that you guys can separate church and state, so to speak.
Ariel: I have a question. Why Sandpoint, and how did we get there?
Charles: That’s such an awesome question.
Louis: That’s why she’s here.
Charles: Awesome question.
Ariel: I feel like there’s got to be such a good origin story because it is something that it’s unique.
Charles: Yeah. So you guys said your studio is on Broadway there, is that right?
Louis: The podcast studio that we’re in.
Charles: Awesome. So I lived in San Francisco and Pacific Heights way back in the day. And then after I met Kimberly, we met on-site on a project in LA in Newport Beach. And then we came back to the city after we got married. When we were dating, she lived like Washington and Jones just kind of category to you, and lived Broadway and Jones-esque. So right in that area. It was when I was working at Oracle and was super excited about starting a company, and I started it. Started in Emeryville and did the reverse commute. And this was when Emeryville was not what it is today. It was a very different Emeryville, this was in 1997, 1998.
Charles (cont’d): So, started a company there, everything’s super expensive. It was great, it was like the dotcom excitement and enthusiasm. I guess it was in 98, 99, wasn’t it? Anyways, long story short, it struck me how difficult it was to start a company and try to be efficient financially. That was a very difficult thing to do. And, thankfully, we sold the company kind of before everything fell apart in the overall economy of internet properties. Sold it to a company in the East Coast. And the way the deal was structured originally was, you’re going to be the West Coast lead, we’re going to grow, we’re going to do all these exciting things. And it was almost like to the day, every day that went by, things started to get uglier and uglier and it was like a foreshadowing of the dotcom kind of blow up.
Charles (cont’d): The term sheet changed almost on a weekly basis. And it went from, everything’s going to be fabulous and you’re going to grow, and you’re going to run the West Coast, to, we’re going to get this deal done still, but you and the whole team are moving to the East Coast. And we better sign this now, otherwise, we don’t know if there’s a deal at all. So it was just really quick.
Charles (cont’d): So there’s a compelling event to say, even though we love San Francisco, we’re going to DC. This was in Washington, DC, Maryland area. I had a great experience in that transaction and transition. Learned a ton, worked for a fabulous woman who was formerly kind of a GM business owner at Computer Associates, which is a big IT monitoring infrastructure company, and she was the CEO of this other company. So, I didn’t have to worry about payroll and didn’t have to worry about the challenges of running a company, and got to learn a lot from her. We’re in DC. DC is great because everyone’s very friendly. I’ll get into all that later, I suppose. But super, super great experience.
Charles (cont’d): But at the end of the day, we were there for four years, and we were like, we’re going back to San Francisco at some point, and we better do it quick. So it was this kind of impending moment where we knew we were going to be back on the West Coast. And on one vacation, my wife and I are on vacation, and we’re reading this book. I had been training to fly, and this book was from the editor of Forbes, who had gotten his pilot’s license and wrote a book called Life 2.0. And the premise was, he convinced his executive editor to let him fly all around the country, to small towns, where major market entrepreneurs moved to the small town to have a new kind of business.
Charles (cont’d): And the whole premise was not everything’s going to happen on these coastal locations, and yada, yada, yada. Anyways, my enthusiasm around flying drew me to read the book, we were reading it on this vacation, we were like, what if we did our own stack ranking of towns based on some of these DNA metrics that are in this book, and that we can research elsewhere. And let’s just pick where we live. And let’s not necessarily go back to the Bay Area. But if we don’t like it within a year, we’ll move to the Bay Area, that’s always an option. And if we do like it, we’ll just stay.
Charles (cont’d): And so, lo and behold, we stack-ranked a bunch of towns. We went on a few confirmatory diligence trips after this vacation. And we went to Sandpoint and we left owning a piece of property. We were like, this is crazy.
Louis: What’s funny is you were so smart about ranking everything and doing it with data, and then you just impulsively just bought something.
Charles: The point was, is that we felt really excited about this place. And so, we bought it and we were like, oh, let’s just dip our toe in now. Now we have a piece of property so if property values go up, you’ll be disappointed. We flew back to DC and we were like, we’re moving. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do there but we’re moving. So then we moved there and literally that was 2005. So that was a long time ago. And we were there for a year, and that was kind of our litmus test, if we like it, we stay, if we don’t, we move, and we’ve been there. It’s been 15 years.
Ariel: What do you do for fun in Sandpoint?
Louis: Besides ski, like when it’s not snow.
Charles: So we ski a lot in the winter. There’s a big lake, there’s a big glacial lake that carved out of the mountains. And so, there’s a lot of water skiing, and there’s jet skiing. So, boating stuff is a big thing. There’s a lot of hiking and mountain biking. I candidly don’t do a ton of mountain biking, but a lot of people that do do. It is fun, I just don’t find a lot of time doing it. I’m pretty straightforward. I work or I love hanging out with my family and my kids. So it’s pretty binary.
Ariel: Do you still fly?
Charles: I had a conversation a long time ago with Kimberly that I either need to have both a budget in time and money to fly every weekend or I’m going to find myself dead on the bottom of, on the ground. So you have to stay current. When I was traveling all the time, you just can’t stay current. You just need to do that. I really love it, I just don’t do it very often. I don’t do it really at all. There will be a season, there’ll be a season where it’s not so busy and I’m sure I’ll be flying, it’ll be really fun.
Louis: Well, you know what, if it’s not during a pandemic, where everything’s shut down, that’s the time to do it, then it’s never going to happen.
Charles: That’s right. That’s a really good point. Do you guys like flying?
Louis: You answer first because I might have a longer story.
Ariel: I liked flying until I started flying all the time for work. When you get into a groove, it was okay. You know what I noticed is that I don’t watch movies anymore now that I’m not flying. I would watch movies and cry like a tiny child constantly. I don’t know what it is about a plane that makes me kind of emotional. There’s something wistful about it, like looking out the window. And then you watch a sad movie and you’re like, oh, life is beautiful.
Louis: Just watch a comedy.
Ariel: I want to commit to that feeling so I watch more dramatic.
Louis: You’re like, I’m on a plane, I’m going to cry, it’s just what I do.
Ariel: Yeah it’s a good relief.
Charles: I love your mission is to commit to the feeling. Genre specific choices based on that, that’s pretty terrific.
Louis: It’s very on-brand for Ariel.
Ariel: I tend to be the bleeding heart of the group between me and Louis. Actually, I’ll ask you, and then I want to know if you miss flying Louis. But I wanted to ask Charles what his love languages were too.
Charles: Oh dear.
Ariel: Oh dear.
Louis: Okay, set it up for him.
Ariel: Do you know about the love languages?
Charles: I do.
Ariel: There’s five love languages. Everyone communicates in all five but you generally have a primary and a secondary. And they are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gift-giving, or acts of service. Charles, what are yours?
Charles: Mine are probably acts of service and physical touch. And it’s really funny that you even asked this because I, someone on the team, I won’t out them, but someone on the team I was having a bit of a down to the mat white knuckle moment where I was really frustrated with something, and he was frustrated, and I’m giving you qualifiers, it’s a male on the team. That’s what makes the story funny. He was frustrated on a bunch of stuff, and I just built it out. “You know what the problem is, is your love language is entirely off from how I’m giving you the business.” And he was like, what in the hell are you talking about? And it was exactly that issue.
Ariel: I think that we can use this to make teams work better together, right?
Louis: Kind of like any sort of psychological mixing and matching. Some people are okay with being let’s say coached hard, and other people kind of need the friend and the buddy. It’s all kind of understanding what works.
Charles: And Ariel, you said affirmation, but just for the studio audience, affirmation also is synonymous with respect.
Ariel: I love that you say that because words of affirmation is my love language, my primary. Okay, Louis, tell us, do you miss flying?
Louis: What’s funny is during the whatever amount of time time that we had off, I was thinking, “Well, what am I going to do with my time?” So besides building an online platform for our virtual events-
Charles: Yeah, you guys did that. Yeah.
Louis: Yeah. We said, You know what, everything sucks, let’s just do it. But then I’m sitting there. I’m like, well, I should learn a new hobby. So, I was thinking, let me take up flying. Like I’m thinking, okay, well, I got a bunch of time here, I live in Los Angeles. So I can go to like Santa Monica Airport, which is about a mile away if that, I’m like, and take some flying lessons, because I saw a YouTube video of a story, you might have heard of, a pilot on a private plane, or a semi-private plane, chartered jet, he had a heart attack and died. But someone who was on the flight knew how to fly. It was like 10 years ago, but they had some basic knowledge. So I’m thinking, you know what, I should learn how to fly a plane. Then I thought it’d be kind of cool too, who the hell knows how to fly a plane besides… Charles.
Charles: That’s for sure. That’s a fantastic thing to have in your back pocket.
Louis: Yeah. Plus it’s got to be some cool story factors, like I know how to fly a plane. It’s like, wow, who does that?
Charles: Well, and the other fun thing about flying is you’re operating in the third dimension. When you’re driving and you’re driving super, super-fast, the worst-case scenario, you’re not going to fall out of the sky. And there’s a really neat kind of physics dynamism that ends up being fun to think about that third dimension of depth.
Louis: Which is why I think that we’re never going to have flying cars.
Charles: Unless they’re completely autonomous.
Louis: Yeah, that’s true. But the other thing that was one of my sort of business hobbies, I guess, is because we do a lot of work with the Brazilian market, I wanted to not be some gringo that just goes down there and talks about how to take advantage of a market. I really like the Brazilian people, the culture, the food, and the language I think sounds like, for lack of a better phrase, the sexiest language, especially when spoken by Cariocas. And I understand you’ve lived in Brazil?
Charles: Yeah, a little known fact. So, I was born in Boulder. And my folks were speechwriters for some folks who were in Brazil. They were writing speeches for these diplomat-esque folks. So we moved to Brazil and my first language was Portuguese.
Ariel: You just teed him up.
Louis: So if I was to say [Portugese 00:32:51].
Ariel: He took lessons, and he wants to, say something else, Louis.
Louis: I’ve taken lessons for over a year and a half at least once a week or a couple times a week.
Charles: Where have you visited?
Louis: Sao Paulo right now has been the only thing because that’s where the work was. If you’re going to have an event in Brazil, you got to go to Sao Paulo. But next year, we’re going to, whenever we can travel regularly again, I should say, we’re going to have two events in Brazil every six months. One in Rio de Janeiro, and then also in Sao Paulo.
Louis: Oh, I actually have traveled to another place, Iguazu Falls. Have you heard of Iguazu?
Charles: I have not heard of it.
Louis: So basically take Niagara Falls times 10. It looks like the, I went during a Brazilian winter, like September, so it wasn’t that bad. It looks like a part of the earth just caved in, and there’s like multi-level waterfalls, sometimes three levels of deep waterfalls. There’s one section, everyone listening, including Charles should google Iguazu Falls. And there’s one part I think is called the Devil’s Mouth, where it just falls so deep into the earth and it’s just a waterfall. It’s just amazing.
Charles: That’s rad. That’s the thing I love about the business that we’re in. Yes, there’s the flying and the opportunity to take advantage of these great emotional moments of watching movies. No seriously. But there is this really neat thing that you get to visit these amazing spots. It’s part of work. It’s kind of incredible.
Louis: We went to Singapore, I took the team out there for a week before the event. Singapore’s obviously one of the most beautiful cities that you could travel to.
Charles: It’s bananas. It’s so cool.
Louis: It’s like wow, this is like real.
Ariel: Well, I want to ask one question and then we should get to this or that because we don’t want to take up too much of your time, Charles. As the child of speechwriters, do you have any public speaking hacks?
Charles: Good question. I don’t know that I have hacks that could be canonized to be that important. But when you asked the question, I’ve got two things that come to mind. So yes, so my mom was a big influence on me, and she was really, she is a really fabulous communicator. I joke that it’s like her pastime, even if no one wants to listen. She just loves to chat at you. And in her time of professional execution, she has always been a really good communicator and kind of connecting with her audience. This was a season that they were doing speech writing, but she was an entrepreneur and an educator. And my dad was an educator. There’s just different seasons.
Charles (cont’d): But to your question about what do I think about, I was student body president, so you’re going to start to typecast me, when I was in high school. I was that guy. But I remember when I was giving my speech, because that’s kind of the one and done thing if you’re going to get voted in high school. She had really highlighted to me that if you’re nervous at all about communicating in front of a large audience, imagine an enormous banner that’s behind all of them that they cannot see, but only you can read, which is just love them.
Louis: Ariel’s melting.
Charles: And the point is-
Louis: You broke Ariel, Charles, thank you.
Charles: When you communicate and you’re nervous about landing a point, you get really brittle. If you communicate and you think about how you really want to care for the people that you’re speaking to, you tend to just be a little bit softer.
Ariel: And they can feel that and they resonate with at war and engage with you more. See, I knew he would have some kind of gem. That was great.
Louis: And that also kind of matches up, syncs up perfectly with that other piece of advice a lot of public speakers are given, which is they see a sea of people and they’re told to focus on one person for like 30 to 60 seconds, and talk to that one face. And then at a different crowd, that other person. So you have three faces for middle, left and right. One time when one speaker came up to me and said, oh, yeah, I was doing that thing where you pick your faces. And then someone came up to me and I’m like, hey, you were one of my faces because I guess speaking to that person resonated when that person wanted to come up and talk more. So, if any service providers are out there and giving presentations, make sure you pick a few faces.
Charles: That’s right.
Ariel: Can you imagine someone just staring at you and you’re like, I don’t want to be the face you chose.
Louis: So maybe what you can do depending on the length of your presentation is have rounds of faces. Like over here, I’m going to focus on that person. When I come back, I’m picking a different face.
Charles: What am I picking? In what context?
Louis: It’s a Rorschach test. Whatever your answer is is the right answer. We will not psychoanalyze you.
Ariel: Don’t worry, I’ll make them easy to start. Mountains or beach?
Louis: See, easy.
Ariel: Sunrise or sunset?
Ariel: iOS or Android?
Louis: He drew the line in the sand. Even post IDFA?
Ariel: He said begrudgingly. Cubed ice cubes or crushed ice?
Charles: Cubed ice provided that it is almost as big as my fists and has no oxygen in it.
Ariel: People are very specific about their ice cubes.
Louis: They are. Because I said I had a big snowball ice that I put in brandy. And she’s like, oh yeah, anyone who has special ice is definitely going to tell them all about it.
Ariel: They talk about it like-
Charles: They do weirdly talk about it. It’s a true statement.
Ariel: They do. Okay, teacher or student?
Charles: I guess student.
Louis: Interesting. I think a lot of people would have assumed you said, a lot of people meaning me, would have assumed that you would have said teacher.
Ariel: Well, teachers are the eternal students, the great teachers are.
Louis: That’s true.
Ariel: Symmetrical or asymmetrical?
Charles: For sure symmetrical.
Ariel: Call or text?
Charles: Text, text. Boy, that really says a lot about …
Louis: Well, you see wife at work all the time and at home.
Ariel: Yeah. Software update now or software update later?
Charles: I think that goes back to symmetrical. Update as soon as you have the opportunity.
Louis: And if it breaks, deal with it.
Ariel: I think you’re the first person who said software update now. I think a lot of people have a very-
Ariel: I have an aggressive relationship with my computer where I’m always like, later, later, later, and I just tell it later, constantly.
Louis: A lot of these questions accidentally are pretty revealing of …
Charles: For sure. I’m self-analyzing as I’m answering them. It’s terrible.
Louis: When you’re saying, later, later, later, like in your very aggressive relationship, you’re very emotional. And Charles is very analytical.
Charles: I’ve got a great story about this that is very contrarian to the reason why that’s a good idea. If there’s software to be updated, let’s get it on the iron, let’s update it. That’s just weirdly how my head is. And iOS 13, I don’t know if you guys ran into this, but I use mail, I don’t use some third party mail app.
Louis: I prefer mail to Google Web crap.
Charles: For sure. So, starting in iOS 13, mail was broken. And maybe it was just me with the volume of mail that I either get or consume or go through, but it was broken. And it only was fixed in iOS 14. And I clobbered along for a full year getting software updates, and it was one of those times where I felt very convicted, why did I update iOS 13. This is the absolute worst experience. And I was also super judgy of Apple. What are we doing? We can’t do a mail app? What’s going on here?
Louis: It’s not the moneymaker so they don’t-
Ariel: They dint opt into this.
Charles: But it’s fixed now with 14, thankfully.
Ariel: I appreciate that story. Don’t fix what’s not broken.
Louis: Because usually, if it’s a major update, I’ll wait till the first bug fix, I’ll wait till the 0.1. And I know a lot of people, a good friend of mine is just like you, no, get it in.
Ariel: Okay, and last one, work from home or go into the office?
Charles: Go into the office. I’m actually at the office right now. There aren’t many people here, but I am.
Ariel: And why do you think go into the office versus work from home?
Charles: I just get into a better mental space. You could probably ask one of my kids, is dad home when he’s home, and they’d probably debate it, and say, well, he’s not really home, he’s on his phone. But I do like the mental space of when I’m at work, I’m at work, and when I’m at home, I’m at home. If I have to go to a meeting or something, then it’s just an offshoot.
Louis: I like the office because I like the camaraderie of a team.
Charles: Yeah. And that’s kind of not there at the moment. I know what you mean.
Louis: But that’s the thing that I miss the most, is I love being in there. I love just throwing out an idea and getting immediate feedback, brainstorming back and forth instead of over an email or a computer. It’d be so much better if we were doing, we’re doing this podcast over zoom because Sandpoint versus San Francisco and LA. But next time, we’ll have to do this in Sandpoint.
Charles: Yeah. We could do it here.
Louis: Crushing a bottle of wine.
Ariel: Yeah, yes. Well, this is really nice talking to you, Charles. I feel like the man behind the Sandpoint curtain, I feel like I’ve learned a lot.
Louis: The wizard of Sandpoint.
Ariel: The Wizard of Oz of Sandpoint, there you go.
Charles: I have to commend you guys. I think there’s such an opportunity and you guys are doing a great job filling this gap of just communication and collaboration and continuity for people in this ecosystem. Display and digital media is very different from mobile, and yet, they’re very much needing to be thought through in an omni-channel way. And so, there’s an argument, if you start in mobile ad buying, there’s kind of a limit because there’s only so many things you’re going to do. But I think the contrary, it’s the mobile ad buyers that are going to become the elevated seniority in omni-channel media companies or offices of CMOs or agencies because mobile is such a key fulcrum to the media plan. And before it was always like the after shoot. And I think there’s a huge opportunity for you guys to kind of really cultivate that.
Charles (cont’d): I’ll give you one for instance. In all this nonsense around SKAd and iOS 14, if there is a debate, or there is a thought process that effective media buying at scale is not going to be as possible, where does a marketer put their money? And then where do they measure the effectiveness of that money? I’ll kind of cut to the chase and say, I think where that money starts going is on OTT and CTV. But they still measure their mobile footprint. They don’t measure OTT exposure, they measure engagement on the footprint of mobile, and the implication of that. And to the extent that companies like us and we can can connect those dots, they get credit for it with their leadership.
Charles (cont’d): The other place that they’re going to be putting that money is around kind of intrinsic intent, which is search. So that’s Apple search ads, and that’s other high intent search dynamics. And so, going back to the community, you guys have built and are continuing to build, to the extent that you have them think about how app is the, that’s the starting point, but it’s really media as a whole that they have unique insight on, is pretty slick.