Evidon Partner Interview: Blast Analytics
August 10, 2016 – Evidon Team
Joe Christopher, VP, of Blast Analytics explains why he decided to partner with Evidon
Q: How long has Blast been in business? And what are some of the objectives that your department is working on right now?
A: Blast has been in business for seventeen years. We started out as a web design and development agency, but analytics and marketing have always been a really big part of what we’ve done. They have been our sole focus for close to ten years now, and I’ve personally been with the company for about nine and a half years.
Specifically, one area of need we focus on is increasing organizational knowledge and understanding around data governance. Companies are finally taking this seriously, and they’re beginning to understand how valuable these practices are. So that’s a big company-wide goal for us – we need to be embedded in data governance to help our clients increase their maturity.
Q: Specifically on that topic of data governance, I’m curious to hear about the challenges and objectives that led you to look for a solution?
A: There are so many tools on the market that can tell you about the performance of your website, but they lack the visualization component of Ghostery’s offerings, like Trackermap. Ghostery’s tools show how different technologies are connected to each other. A lot of the other technologies we’ve experimented with are way too technical, which means they are sometimes out of the realm of understanding of a marketer who is trying to consume the data. And so instead those tools end up directly in the hands of IT. Ghostery bridges some of the gaps between marketing and IT with their solutions.
As a company we focus across many different industries and verticals. In the case of our ecommerce clients, there has been strong outreach both to retail and online presence. We also use it with our B2B clients – really it’s anyone that’s putting tags on their site.
The fact of the matter is that Ghostery really meets the needs of what we have to offer to our clients, and helps us with tag performance, a fuller understanding of data leakage, as well as adherence to compliance laws, and privacy.
Q: How did your needs evolve to the point that you knew you needed something new, like Trackermap, to help with visualization?
A: Prior to having access to the Trackermap technology, our methods ranged from using Chrome developer tools, to using Charles Proxy and different proxy tools, and eventually to using third-party tools such as a Pingdom or a Webpagetest.org. These offered different ways to look at the waterfall and understanding the performance of the tags, but we really haven’t come across a solution that matches the capabilities and ease of use of Ghostery’s tools.
Q: And how did you hear about Ghostery’s products?
A: We’ve been long-time users and fans of the browser extension. Ghostery’s other products came to our attention because I was doing research on who’s behind the extension and I wanted to know how Ghostery was offering it at no charge. So I sort of ran across these other products that I was previously unaware of. It’s really important for me in my position to be aware of different technologies, and I look for opportunities to bring more value to the table for our customers by introducing tools such as Ghostery.
Within Blast, it’s been delivered to the marketing and analytics teams in roles ranging from marketing automation to data visualization. The adoption rate internally of leveraging the tools and thinking of Ghostery as a solution has really increased our ability to deliver value to clients.
Q: When you went through that evaluation process of the Ghostery tools, what was it that really stood out to you as something your customers need?
A: When I go through the selection process of a tool, it’s important for me and the other consultants at Blast to trial the solution and understand how it’s going to work – either by using our own data or working with the client. If it meets our needs – and most importantly, provides value to our clients – we’ll then add that to our toolset.
I would also say that it creates more productive conversations. And we don’t have to have doubts about accuracy or applicability because we have that real world panel data. We know what real users are experiencing. That allows those non-technical folks to more fully understand what is firing on their website and how it impacts user experience.
Q: What is a specific example where the Trackermap helped as a visual aid to advance a conversation and dig deeper into issues that were difficult to expose on the surface with your client?
A: A very common conversation that we have with clients is around tag implementation. It happens frequently that marketers send us a tag and ask us to implement it for them, and then QA it to make sure that it’s firing. And one of the things that’s surfaced is that they’ll come back to us and say, “Why is this other marketing technology firing? I don’t even know who this vendor is.”
By showing them the visualization of the Trackermap and showing them how it’s connected to one of these third-party vendors, and how those third parties become more or less like a fourth or fifth party, depending on how they’re spawned into each other – it accelerates that conversation. The visual layout gives them confidence that, “Oh, it’s because of this other vendor. They’re loading this other tag.” Understanding more about a tag before you add it to your tag management tool or your website is important. So the feature of being able to paste in a tag and know what it’s going to be doing, that’s pretty powerful.
Q: Would it be fair to say that one of the major challenges you deal with is non-technical folks who are responsible for adding additional technologies to a domain?
A: Tag management hit the scene quite a few years ago now, and it increased the accessibility of deploying tags to people that maybe had less of an IT role and more of a marketing role.
Despite that change, these new people didn’t really have the tools or the insight to understand performance impacts and other impacts like mixed content warnings that can come from tagging. So there’s a large educational component for marketers and I think that companies like Ghostery are working to help to educate marketers.
Q: Are there any other areas of particular vulnerability in the marketplace that you see becoming a big problem in the near future?
A: There’s an increased risk and less attention around privacy law compliance and upcoming changes. Things are moving pretty quickly, depending on the different locations around the world, specifically in Europe – but even in the United States. There are lots of things that are going on that are, in my opinion, going to impact the way that we execute tagging, what is possible, and the responsibility of organization to be up-front with what they are doing. Basically say what you do, and do what you say.