Attribution’s $400 Million Dollar Marketer

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When Anthony Pitts — the 400 million dollar marketer — joined DraftKings in 2012, no one expected such a massive growth curve: from 651 paying customers to over 2 million in four years! Follow his story to hear what it takes to build a customized attribution framework and why committing to a process is more important than the outcome.

Guest bio:

Anthony Pitts was the VP of acquisitions at DraftKings from 2012 to 2015. Under his leadership, the company scaled its customer base at a remarkable rate while decreasing the cost of customer acquisitions.

Before Draftkings tony spent over seven years in the digital ad tech world overseeing the successful completion of thousands of advertising campaigns that spanned multiple industries while finding actionable ways to use his theoretical understanding on how to increase company yield through advertising.

Tony’s slightly unconventional path began with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Carnegie Mellon which eventually led him to complete a Master’s in Political Science at the University of Rochester.

He is an empirical thinker who has a strong statistical background and a studied understanding of the qualitative drivers of the human decision-making process.

Key takeaways:

[2:00] I introduce today’s guest, Anthony Pitts, and ask him about how he came to be where he is today.

[11:34] Tony walks us through his first steps at DraftKings, shares the story of how Google and Facebook shut them off in the beginning! And he breaks down how the first campaign was built as well as the reasons underpinning the decisions they took around it.

[16:32] Tony shares what budget he built this first four-week campaign with and what that meant in terms of using logic and empirical thought processes — there was no roadmap for this kind of thing back then!

[19:30] How do you know what’s good? How do you know where to invest the money: TV, radio, Facebook or whatever digital channel? Where is your biggest ROI? Tony shares his tips.

1. Establish a process

Tony took estimates and did data analysis to determine which channels would get the most money (TV has a broader impact and so got more budget allocation.) This allowed for subsequent evaluation and performance reviews for the channels which in turns allows for adjustments for performance.

2. Track your data

For DraftKings, getting an email address was the first point of conversion considered, so identifying which channel permitted this was the first part. Each channel was assigned a promo code which allowed for tracking for the original conversion channel through the customer’s existence.

[26:52] Tony touches on the importance of timing. After setting up your process, when do you spend all that money? Each business has its own rhythm in terms of customer acquisitions: seasonal components that will increase the probability of customer acquisition.

[29:02] Tony touches on the reasons why he thinks some marketers aren’t doing attribution and what he would suggest for them to start with.

[33:36] I ask Tony about the seemingly decreasing popularity of testing among marketers as well as why — and what — they should be testing for.

[36:52] Measurement and attribution should not be thought of in the same spending class as media; Tony believes it’s more of an infrastructure functionality. But when it comes to media expenditures, he offers that all things being equal, you should always aim at spending as little as possible to achieve your desired goal! (Unless there is a learning curve, then you should invest in knowledge.)

[41:02] Tony answers my question as to where is attribution headed to, five or 10 years into the future.

[45:44] I highlight a point Tony made that nothing will give you absolute truth, but a mix of different sources will get you an increasingly more precise picture.

[48:26] Tony shares one thing he knows that no one else does. I thank him for coming on the podcast and sharing so much of his experience.

Be sure to tune in for the next episode and thanks for listening!

Connect with our guest:

Anthony Pitts on LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

DraftKings

Game Theory

Voter behavior

About your host:

Jeff Greenfield is the Co-Founder and Chief Attribution Officer of C3 Metrics. As the chief architect of the platform, Greenfield worked directly with the former CEO and Chairmen of Nielsen to solve advertising’s Attribution problem.

Greenfield’s history of technology and marketing initiatives have served blue-chip clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly-Clark, Sony BMG, Black & Decker, Forest Labs, Plum Creek, and more.

Prior to co-founding C3 Metrics, Greenfield was a recognized thought leader in the area of Branded Content as publisher of Branded Entertainment Monthly, a joint effort with VNU Media, detailing industry statistics, gaps, and trends. He’s been a featured speaker at NAPTE, The Next Big Idea, and a news source in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNET, and Investor’s Business Daily. Greenfield studied Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, holds dual degrees from Southern California University of Health Sciences and is an instrument-rated pilot.

Jeff Greenfield at C3 metrics

Jeff Greenfield on LinkedIn

Jeff Greenfield on Twitter

Quotes (edited):

“What you’re saying, and who you’re saying it to is WAY more important than where you’re saying it.” — Anthony Pitts

“We made allowances for how people interact with the media — and it turns out that it was an attribution methodology — but it was really born of a pragmatic understanding of how to scale with discipline: so we just don’t throw money away.” — Anthony Pitts

“Different media impacts the user targets differently so you need to allow for interplay between the different mediums.” — Anthony Pitts

“People interact with TV and digital video media very differently than they do SEM, so why are we measuring it the same way?” — Anthony Pitts

“Each business has its own rhythm in terms of customer acquisitions: seasonal components that will increase the probability of customer acquisition. When you’re in season, it’s investment time and off season is testing time.” — Anthony Pitts

“Discipline in media spend is one of the most important things you can do, but just because you can’t track it 100%, it doesn’t mean it didn’t do something.” — Anthony Pitts

“Everyone knows what to do when things are going well — you don’t even need to know why they’re going well — it’s when things are going wrong that you need to have a structure in place so you don’t become paralyzed by the unknown.” — Anthony Pitts

“People get too bogged down in the day-to-day tactics rather than looking at the big picture.” — Anthony Pitts

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