Demystifying AI | Ingrid Burton
Katie Foote: Welcome to Revenue Talks. I'm Katie.
Justin: And I'm Justin. On this show, we get real about what it takes to build pipeline and successfully scale businesses.
Katie Foote: By having conversations with folks who have been there before, we explore what it takes to create strong, cross- functional alignment, how technology factors in, how different teams think about attribution and so much more.
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Katie Foote: Hello, everyone, and welcome to our first episode of our new podcast called Revenue Talks. My name is Katie Foote and I am the CMO here at Drift, and I have the privilege of being joined with a fellow CMO from Quantcast, Ingrid Burton. Ingrid, welcome.
Ingrid Burton: Hey, Katie. Thanks for having me.
Katie Foote: Thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us a little bit about Quantcast?
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. Quantcast has been around for a while. So some of you may have heard about Quantcast and we're in the ad tech space. So, we provide an easy to use, high performance, intelligent audience platform that allows you to serve up advertising throughout the open internet.
Katie Foote: Well, we are very excited to have you and I was particularly intrigued by your background. You started your career as a software engineer and you come to us today wearing the hat of CMO, which I think will provide a very unique experience for our listeners. So, again, thank you for being here.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah, yeah. So, actually it starts way back when, I have a degree in math with a kind of smattering of computer science in there. And got hired right out of college as a software engineer, which was not something I ever expected when I was a kid. That was not in the game plan. And now being CMO was also not in the game plan, but kind of an interesting journey for sure.
Katie Foote: Yeah, absolutely. I find that many of those experiences make you much more well- rounded and great at any job that you choose to pursue.
Ingrid Burton: Sure. Yeah. I agree.
Katie Foote: Life rarely goes as we think, right?
Ingrid Burton: We can say that now, right? The last couple years did not go as expected.
Katie Foote: No, I was looking at a billboard the other day that talked about," Before I agree to 2022, can I look at the terms?" Which I thought was funny.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Katie Foote: Today's topic is going to be all about the importance of AI in marketing. So, you obviously come with lots of experience and can share it with our listening audience. Let's start with some of the basics though. Can you unpack for us what does the phrase artificial intelligence mean to you?
Ingrid Burton: I take a heavy side there. So AI, the term AI, artificial intelligence, kind of came out of the efforts in the 1950s after World War II. A lot of research was being done. I can't remember who termed it AI, artificial intelligence, but right away spiked a lot of interest and has been around for quite some time. I mean, it's been about 50 or 60 years that it's been in existence. So, artificial intelligence is kind of a umbrella term for augmenting human intelligence. It isn't to replace humans. It's to really augment us. There's an umbrella term called AI, where there's self- driving cars and there's bots and there's robotics and there's machine learning and there's deep learning and there's a lot of image recognition software. There's a lot that goes under it. So, it's not just AI taking over the world. It's a term that encapsulates a lot of different ideas around augmenting our intelligence. That's how I see it. It's really giving us additional tools and techniques to be able to look ahead and to do predictions as an example.
Katie Foote: Given that it's been around since the 1950s, how do you think the perspective of AI has changed, the perception, how other people feel when they hear that terminology?
Ingrid Burton: Well, I think I can tell you first hand, just their perception, I've been in an Uber well a couple years ago and he's like," Oh, AI is taking over the world, it's going to put me out of business." An Uber driver, right?
Katie Foote: Yeah.
Ingrid Burton: And you're just kind of like,"But you know it's also giving you the ability to solve healthcare challenges, like diseases and predict the weather and so forth and a lot of different really good use cases, giving you better credit, for example, giving students better credit, because it's predicting what they're going to do next." So, that perception by consumers has been like this big, scary Terminator thing, right?
Katie Foote: Yeah. Yeah.
Ingrid Burton: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator, that's AI. We are so far from that. I keep telling everyone that we are so far from that, don't worry about that. They're not taking over the world. We haven't even gotten self- driving cars right yet. That's a decade away, at least. In my opinion, I'm not expert.
Katie Foote: Too bad. I would love a self- driving car.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. But think about what you as a human do as a driver. You perceive things, you hear things, you don't even know that when you see somebody changing a lane way back there or whatever, there's weather conditions, there's snowstorm that we've had recently both on the East Coast and the West Coast. A self- driving car could not get through a snowstorm, a human can. So, yes, it would be lovely to be able to sit in the back seat and read a book while it takes me to where I want to go, but it's got to be a straight line, with lines on the road, no weather conditions, no erratic driving by your fellow drivers. I mean, we've got to get to a different place with that. And there's new techniques and there's a lot of companies working on it, but it's still a ways down the road.
Katie Foote: inaudible way. That's why our Uber drivers are so important and will not be replaced.
Ingrid Burton: They are, that's right. That's right. And truck drivers. I was just on Highway 80 in the snowstorm here on the West Coast and you see these truck drivers, they're navigating this gnarly road, going over a huge mountain pass with chains on, there's no self- driving truck out there that's going to be able to do that. Now, going from Reno, Nevada to the East, to maybe Salt Lake City, yeah, maybe. But not over a pass in a blizzard.
Katie Foote: Right. Right. Well, let's talk a little bit about one of the topics that you focus a lot on in your job, which is this idea of a free and open internet. I know Quantcast talks about that a lot. What does that mean? What does that mean to you?
Ingrid Burton: Well, yeah, it is a cause and it's near and dear to my heart in particular. So, when the internet started 20- plus years ago, when we all started picking up browsers and looking for news and information, we were able to do so roam through the internet freely. Over the years, as somebody has to pay for this internet, somebody and who's paying for? All of us, right?
Katie Foote: Right.
Ingrid Burton: We, as consumers. So, advertising became part of the internet and it had to be funded. All this great content that we all took for granted had to be paid for. So now, there's this internet, which I believe is becoming bifurcated. So if you want great news sources, editorial news, such as The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, or the FT, you subscribe to that, but that's created a world of have and have- nots, of where I can afford to look at that news source versus I can't, because I don't have the whatever dollars per month to subscribe to it. So, we'd like to maintain at Quantcast a free and open internet, which means that you, all of us, can get the same level of content, see it freely and openly without having to go through a pay wall. But that means we do have to pay for it with advertising. And I'm okay with that as long as it's ads that are relevant to me. And I would love to get offers and ads served up to me that matter to me that I'm going to buy from. I think we're all a little tired of the ads that get served up to us that's like," Why am I getting this? This doesn't mean anything to me." So, free and open internet is just that, keeping it free and open. We all realize we are having to pay for it somehow. So, more relevant, so we can get that relevant content, but I want more relevant ads.
Katie Foote: Yeah. I mean, I just think about my own Christmas shopping list. The brands who can offer up personalized, targeted advertising to me, I have such an affinity for and add such value in my life.
Ingrid Burton: Absolutely. And I'm always waving at Patagonia or North Face like," Give me an offer. I'll buy, I've got the money for it, and I want that product." So, those are some of my go to retailers, is the ones I want. Instead, I get dating sites and not even ones that are... I'm married and happily, and I don't need this dating site serving me an ad. That's a waste of their money and a waste of my time and irritating. Right?
Katie Foote: Yeah. It's maybe good for a chuckle once and then it gets very irritating very quickly.
Ingrid Burton: I think it's very irritating to look at whatever these ads, I'm like," I'm not interested."
Katie Foote: There's been such talk about the Cookiepocalypse and the future of being able to deliver targeted, personalizing, relevant advertising in a world that's cookie- less, how does your concept of open and free relate to this cookie- less society that we're entering?
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. The cookie- less conversation, we call it the cookie- less conundrum, which is how do we get through that? And the cookie- less, the demise of the third- party cookie is going to happen and it's going to happen rather fast, even though it's a year out, it's going to happen. So, there's different ways of reaching people. First of all, they can select, they can opt in. That's one way with unique identifiers where they're showing up on sites and with that unique identifier. But you can also put together a set of data that's anonymized and create cohort groups like," I'm an outdoors person, so I'm going to be affinity to outdoors activities." Then, advertisers could reach those outdoor people, because there's a group, a flock of them, so to speak. But if you take all of that into consideration, there's just different ways. This is where machine learning, one of the AI concepts I talked about, machine learning comes into play. So, if you have data, it can start to show you the patterns, it can start to show you people's preferences and actually make predictions, because you take this huge mathematical model, so to speak, with this large amount of data and are able to then say with some certainty that this is the type of consumer person that I'm trying to reach right now with this offer. That's where AI machine learning really does come into play with kind of a big data view as well.
Katie Foote: Yeah. You talked on a webinar a couple years ago about us entering this age of artificial intelligence. And you've started to talk a little bit about that just a moment ago. What does that look like? So, if the cookie collapses completely in a year, what does this new age of AI look like?
Ingrid Burton: Well, it looks like, for marketing people, it's like you have to like invest in AI techniques or look at vendors that use AI in order to ascertain who's coming to your site? Who wants this? Who's looking? Because AI can sift through, again, it's augmenting the intelligence that we as marketers already have. We have our gut feel, our intuition, but we need data, right?
Katie Foote: Yeah. Yeah.
Ingrid Burton: So, with data and machine learning can then take that, all that data, and make sense of it. Then, what I tend to think marketers need to do is then look at that with a grain of salt, look at all the various ways that that data is coming at you and make some decisions based on that. But use AI and machine learning to augment what you already think you might know. Then you might be surprised that was something you might not know, but you should investigate. You should really make sure. I always talk about AI, the age of AI, also needs humans in the loop, both on the front- end and the backend. Never just rely on an AI directly. Make sure that you understand what the inputs are, where the data came from, is there bias in that data? And make sure that the output as well makes sense. Because if it doesn't, you can go up really wrong routes pretty quickly.
Katie Foote: I talk a lot about the marriage... The beauty of marketing is this marriage of art and science and the machine learning and the AI that you speak of is the science inaudible of that. That when couples-
Ingrid Burton: inaudible. I say that all the time too. Having that math degree really helps for me, because I'm analytical and also can understand what's going on behind the models. But I don't think it takes a mathematician to figure out what's going on behind the models. You just simply have to know what that model might be creating and what are the inputs to that model? Are you looking at demographic information? Are you looking at contextual information? What are the things that this model is looking at to give you a degree of certainty about who that person is on the other... That anonymous person who might be on the other end, because you're not tracking them with cookies anymore. So, data really comes into play, first- party data really comes into play if you, as a brand marketer, have a lot of your own first- party data, that's great. You can start to make sense of what's happening on the open internet.
Katie Foote: So, in other words, don't be scared of the algorithm and the inputs. There's lots of ways to simplify. You don't have to be an expert. You have to be a data scientist to employ AI effectively.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. If you're a marketer and could hire a data scientist for your team, that would be ideal, but not everybody can afford that. So there's a lot of tools out there that, and a lot of vendors that are using AI embedded, we are, we're using machine learning embedded within our solution, within the Quantcast platform to give you that degree of certainty of who you might reach. We're also already doing cookie- less solutions today based on our machine learning algorithms that we have, the models that we're building on first- party data today. So, we're finding great results with that. So, don't be afraid, but do ask the right questions about understanding, ask the vendor to break it down. What kind of AI are you using? What machine learning algorithms? What are your inputs? Some of them are very basic statistical models, they're not scary, they're just mathematical.
Katie Foote: Right. And as you alluded to earlier in our conversation, AI is such a broad umbrella that you do have to ask those questions to really understand and inform the right strategy for your business.
Ingrid Burton: That's correct. That's correct. Because you can go down the wrong route. Don't get tripped up on the terminology. I do encourage marketers, actually all business people and college students today, to take some course where, and my recommendation, if I can make a plug for them and I have no affiliation with this organization, it's Coursera.
Katie Foote: Oh great.
Ingrid Burton: So, Coursera has an AI For Everyone course.
Katie Foote: Great.
Ingrid Burton: It's about four weeks, but you could do it in a couple of hours, I think, you could do it in a day for sure. And it's taught by Andrew Ng, who is one of the premier AI experts in the world. He's also the founder of Coursera. But he breaks it down into very simple concepts, so business people can understand the terminology, understand what it is and what it isn't, what you can measure and where we are today. So, this course came out a couple of years ago and I still recommend it. Highly recommend it.
Katie Foote: I mean, what we can understand feels so much more manageable. So, that's great. It's a great recommendation.
Ingrid Burton: Exactly. Exactly.
Katie Foote: That was actually going to be one of my questions for you. Where do you think marketers in particular get it wrong when it comes to AI?
Ingrid Burton: I think they think it's, well, I think businesses, not marketers. I think businesses think," Oh, if I have AI," the CEOs might be saying," If I got AI, then I'm going to be that much smarter or I'm going to make better decisions," or what have you. But you can't outsource your brain. Right?
Katie Foote: Right. Right.
Ingrid Burton: So, to say that it's a panacea or that it's the big band- aid that's going to go find you leads or going to go find you new customers. It's just another tool in your toolbox is the way I see it. There's a lot of great technologies out there for MarTech and AdTech stacks. But I would make sure that... A lot of people talk about AI, but not a lot of people are still doing it. So, you really want to make sure that they are and that they're not just... We're marketing people, we might gloss over and say," Oh yeah, we use AI." But really? Are you? Or is it a statistical model? So just really check it out and that's fine too. But as long as you understand that that's what you're getting. So, yeah. I mean, I think where people get it wrong is thinking it's a band- aid and it's not.
Katie Foote: No. There's no easy fix in life, right?
Ingrid Burton: No, there isn't an easy fix. If it was, we'd all be wildly rich and successful and our companies would be thriving, but it isn't as simple as that.
Katie Foote: Is there a resource that you would point listeners to that maybe is a cheat sheet or questions they should be asking to make sure that they're truly investigating or employing AI versus some other solution that sounds like AI or is positioned as AI? What are some of the good questions to ask?
Ingrid Burton: So, first of all, AI, I did a webinar on this many years ago now, I guess like three or four years ago. But I talk to business people, so marketers, financial people, all of that. First of all, where's your data? I think about five key things. Where's your data coming from? Or do you have first- party data? Is it third- party data? Do you trust that data? What's in that data? Look at that data, understand that dataset. So, make sure that you have your data. That's your first thing. Second thing is, you got to ask the right questions. You can't ask an AI to deliver an answer if you're asking a question that's so open- ended and so broad. It can't quite get there. You've got to kind of have a time- bound, metric- bound question. So, you've got to ask the right questions. Like in banking, is this person creditworthy? Will they be in one year? Two year? You can start to ask those question. So, in marketing, it's like, is this my next best customer? Or is this my next best customer? What might they buy next? There's a set of models that can be created based on past customer patterns to give you an answer and an insight into that. So, you got to look at that. So, data, ask the right questions, make sure that you understand the results and that you can explain those results. And there's a whole field called explainable and responsible AI. But that really is looking at, is that model correct? And is it yielding the right results? Is there bias in that model? And bias does happen in models, because humans create the models. So, you've got to understand that you could have a biased answer that you may not want to see. You might be missing a whole segment of people, especially in advertising and marketing, that you didn't know you weren't reaching, because you might have had bias in your model, excluding a class of people or citizens out there that you did not intend to do, it's an unintended consequence. So, those are the key three things that I would really look at, but really understanding from start to finish, it's data, it's what am I using? And how can I explain it?
Katie Foote: That's so helpful. And I would imagine that by doing that and asking those questions and having that understanding, you can ultimately create a better customer experience and meet buyers where they're at, which is a lot of what you talk about within your organization. How does your business think about personalizing those experiences for customers?
Ingrid Burton: So, we think about it just like every marketing person is we start with a customer journey, where is that customer? Where are they at in their journey? And thinking about personalizing it is, if we see a pattern that seems to match... For instance, I keep talking about myself, because it's easy. I'm an outdoors person. My pattern in the winter is to go skiing. So, why aren't outdoor advertisers reaching me? Why are they not... They're not personalizing my journey whatsoever. So, we have a long ways to go, but we are doing it by looking at that pattern, this group of people has been doing this thing, so they might be doing that, because we've seen that pattern before. And that's where data and AI can really come into play, because a human can't really see all that data. We can't sift through it. There's not enough hours in the day. So, using the machine learning to help us get through that is very helpful.
Katie Foote: So, talking about the customer journey, how do you drink your own champagne at Quantcast and make sure that you are able to deliver personalized ads, time and time again, to further someone on that journey and to deepen engagement?
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. So, one of the great things about working for an AdTech company is I get to use my own product. So, we've been using our Quantcast platform to serve up our own ads to our constituents, to our clients for now about a year. So, it's been great. We actually feed the information back into the product teams and the engineering teams about what's working and not working. So, we are personalizing, but based on what we're seeing in terms of this client looks like that client, this is the kind of ad that you need to be looking at versus that kind of ad. Now, we also do generalized ads, which is more brand awareness, and we can do that and pick where we want to go. So, it's been really interesting from the standpoint of, this is the first time I've been CMO at a company that I would use the product. As opposed to where I've been before is technology companies where I was building or they were building infrastructure and I'm marketing that infrastructure so to speak. So, it's been interesting to be able to say," I can actually talk about the product and it works and it's delivering great results." So yeah.
Katie Foote: I had a similar experience. I spent many years at Salesforce and was unable to use a lot of the great MarTech that exists and being here at Drift, it's just incredible to have access to your own products and to be able to use that in your marketing efforts. It's very exciting.
Ingrid Burton: Right. And I'm a big fan of Drift by the way.
Katie Foote: Thank you inaudible.
Ingrid Burton: I've been using it for a couple of years and I just love the interface. And you said it, another company other than Quantcast, and now we're using it at Quantcast. But the first thing I came in is like," We need drift. Because it definitely delivers." I know you didn't ask me to say this, but-
Katie Foote: inaudible did it.
Ingrid Burton: We have hot leads coming out of Drift, because if they're engaging us on our website in that kind of way, in a way that they are people... Our visitors want to come engage with us. Passing those off to sales has been just tremendous for us, both at my prior company and this company. I could see a direct correlation and say marketing first touch and final sale.
Katie Foote: That's wonderful to hear.
Ingrid Burton: So, that's fantastic. You guys built a great product.
Katie Foote: I'm huge fan, obviously, but still being relatively new to Drift, I feel like a kid in a candy shop, to your point, being a marketer and being able to use your own product is really exciting.
Ingrid Burton: It's really exciting. And the results... And you find out like, I can put myself in another marketer's shoes and say," Yes, I mean, we're using this and look at, we can do it quite simply. And here's all the things you're getting. Here's your benefits."
Katie Foote: Yeah, exactly. Is there anything else you would say to marketers on the topic of AI, data, bringing it all together and making that art and science work to deliver magic for the consumer?
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. So, I think I've said it already, but really make sure that our creativity is there and using machine learning AI as a tool to help you achieve your results can be quite astounding. You can see some great results and you can measure, because it's all mathematical, you can measure your results. So, don't ignore AI, I guess it would be my take. And figure out the vendors that, where's your MarTech stack going? Can you simplify your MarTech stack? Do you have a data science team? If you're at a large company, you might have a data science team, get somebody assigned to you. I mean, you can create models that say my next best customer, based on your first- party data, other data that's available and figure out what's going to happen next. I mean, I think it's an exciting area. Get your digital marketing teams well- versed in it and you can start to see some real growth.
Katie Foote: That's great. Having used your own product and employed some of these philosophies yourself with your team, have there been any key learnings or what's your journey been like?
Ingrid Burton: My own journey. Well, not everything works the first time. If it was so simple, everybody could do it. That's another key learning. Which is, we all tend to make mistakes or we go down the wrong rabbit hole. My big thing is learn fast, fail fast, and move on quickly. We're doing our annual performance reviews right now at our company, as many companies might be doing, but it's like, there was one instance where I should have seen this one coming and I could have failed faster and moved on. But it's that, it's learning, it's constantly learning and making sure that you're not just using the same old things and the same techniques, there's ways and there's new techniques that are out there. Not to say that the old techniques of marketing don't work, because they actually do, because they're new again. What's old is new again is my other saying. So, you learn and you move on and you adjust. Sometimes models aren't accurate, aren't correct. But realize that, and don't throw the AI out just because it didn't work correctly the first time. You got to try and experiment.
Katie Foote: You said essentially, there's multiple ways to get to the same place. The way I describe it with my team is if this is the islands that we're swimming towards, there's lots of different ways to get there.
Ingrid Burton: So, it's funny. I talk about here's the mountaintop we're trying to take.
Katie Foote: That's funny.
Ingrid Burton: There's multiple routes up that mountain and let me lead you up this mountain and, okay, now we got to this mountain, we're going to go to the next one.
Katie Foote: Right. That's the outdoorsy person in you. That's what that is.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah. Well, you must be a swimmer.
Katie Foote: I'm a beach person.
Ingrid Burton: There you go.
Katie Foote: inaudible beach. Yeah.
Ingrid Burton: I'm a mountain person. Yeah.
Katie Foote: So is my husband, we compromise.
Ingrid Burton: Yeah.
Katie Foote: Well, I will leave our listeners with the one question that we are asking everyone on our podcast, on Revenue Talks, which is, what's the number one thing here in the new year that your team is focused on to help accelerate revenue at Quantcast.
Ingrid Burton: I was going to say, we're focused on revenue. I mentioned revenue, because I thought you were going to say," What's the one word that you're focused on?" I think, as a marketer, I'm here to help sell, sell.
Katie Foote: Exactly.
Ingrid Burton: I need to make sure that they are successful. So, my big thing that I challenge my marketing teams right now, if it's not shifting the needle on awareness and if it's not resulting in a revenue goal, or helping drive revenue, or touch pipeline, ask yourself why you're doing it all the time. If it's not helping a customer be successful, I mean, it's like these three things. If it isn't doing any one of those three things, kill it, stop doing it. It's not going to help any outcome, because at the end of the day, what are we all here for? We're all here to make our businesses grow and thrive and deliver the results that we need. Because otherwise, we're not going to get paid and the company won't be successful. So, we are very focused on revenue. I want to be focused on customers and their pain points and solving those in pursuit of revenue.
Katie Foote: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and revenue and pipeline are the rising tide that lift all boats within an organization. And I think marketing has a really unique opportunity to be the connective tissue to help in that endeavor, to bring everyone together, inaudible.
Ingrid Burton: That's absolutely correct. That's how we see it is like we are, I don't want to say the glue, but we stitch together the story between the technology side of the house to the commercial side of the house and help them be successful. Because when they're successful, like you said, we're all successful.
Katie Foote: Yeah. And then everyone's in a good mood, which makes it great. Right? Well, Ingrid, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about the importance of AI in marketing, to bring your unique perspective and background. We just so appreciate it and are excited to have kicked off our podcast with you as our special guest.
Ingrid Burton: Okay. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. I've enjoyed it.
Katie Foote: Thank you so much for listening to Revenue Talks. We'd love it if you left a review wherever you're listening and hit subscribe, so you never miss a new episode. You can connect with us both on Twitter, @ KatieJfoote with an E and @ JustinKeller. And remember, revenue, it's everyone's business now.
Artificial intelligence (AI)—the term everyone in tech talks about. But how many of us actually know what artificial intelligence means? And how many of us actually know how to use artificial intelligence to deliver better website experiences for our buyers? In this pilot episode of Revenue Talks, Drift’s CMO, Katie Foote, sits down with Quantcast’s former CMO, Ingrid Burton, to explore these questions.
- (0:52) What is Quantcast?
- (1:28) Ingrid’s background in software engineering
- (2:35) What the phrase “artificial intelligence” means to Ingrid
- (4:10) What society gets wrong about AI
- (6:56) The meaning of a “free and open internet”
- (10:12) What Ingrid thinks about the upcoming cookieless society
- (12:05) Navigating the “Age of AI” from a marketer’s standpoint
- (17:07) Where businesses go wrong when thinking about AI
- (18:44) What questions you should ask when thinking about implementing an artificial intelligence solution
- (18:11) Ingrid’s three tips for optimizing AI data as a marketer
- (21:34) How Quantcast thinks about personalizing experiences for its customers
- (22:47) How Quantcast drinks its own champagne to deliver personalized advertising that deepens engagement
- (25:53) How to blend art and science to deliver magic for your consumer
- (27:06) Ingrid’s personal journey with AI
- (29:17) The #1 thing Ingrid’s team is focused on to accelerate revenue this year
Ingrid's recommended AI resource: AI for Everyone by Andrew Ng
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