In this episode, Paul Daly and Kyle Mountsier sit down with Steve White, the data maestro behind Clarivoy, to discuss the ever-evolving digital landscape in the automotive industry. Steve shares his journey from selling banner ads to becoming a pioneer in automotive search marketing, emphasizing the importance of first-party data and the challenges of the impending cookieless future.
In a lighter vein, the trio also delves into fun anecdotes about hair maintenance for the bald and the serendipitous story of how Steve's book recommendation led to a significant event at ASOTU CON. This episode is a blend of insightful data discussions and delightful banter, making it a must-listen for anyone keen on understanding the digital shifts in the automotive world.
Paul J Daly: 0:00Here we go, another intro where Michael's laughing. And we just hit record.
Speaker 2: 0:11
This is auto collabs.
Kyle Mountsier: 0:13
I have a question. I have a real question for both of you, because as a guy that has hair Okay. Yeah, let's have it, let's have it as a guy that has hair every couple of few weeks, I got to trim that Joker up just to make sure. Like, what is the volume of shaving that has to happen to keep the bald head tight at all times?
Paul J Daly: 0:36
Like, I have a problem with this because it was easier when I had hair, because I like to have things like in order and in their place, and so it's like you only get like if you shave your head with like a straight razor, you only get like two really good days out of it, yep, yep. By the end of day two you're like I got to, I got to reset this thing and that's a really annoying. I don't know if it's a thing for you, but like when I'm on the road it's just way harder than when I'm at home. I don't know why.
Michael Cirillo: 1:04
Yeah, what could you? You got to go in blind, right it's the mirror situation.
Paul J Daly: 1:08
It's the water's different. You just have your own little chemistry. So like two days, but I don't know.
Michael Cirillo: 1:13
Here's my secret Date the night, the night before the morning of an event that that, before I fly out, that sucker gets the bit.
Paul J Daly: 1:21
Yep, I'm down with that same strategy.
Michael Cirillo: 1:24
I'll swipe and I have a Remington electric tip to maintain you down, got it. And that's, that's my game plan.
Kyle Mountsier: 1:36
Well, hey, all that equals to me Too much work something too much work, by the way way too much work too, much work, but today we're actually we're talking with Steve White. Steve White's a good friend.
Paul J Daly: 1:47
Somebody with hair, nice hair. Steve's got nice hair.
Kyle Mountsier: 1:50
Great guy and we just actually came off. You know, I got to have him on a panel at a soda con and, like the depth of knowledge this guy has of date, he goes. I don't know if you know this, but our company basically adds a billion rows of data to a set every single month. No, that's probably why you know a lot about all this stuff tonight One billion. That's unbelievable. Right A day, a month, they're adding a billion rows of data to their data set, so I can't wait to dig into that. We hope that you enjoy this conversation.
Paul J Daly: 2:33
So, steve, thanks so much for joining us. We've interacted on so many different like on stages and in person, but I think this is the first time we have you auto ourselves for a podcast.
Steve White: 2:44
Yeah it is. I'm excited. It's good to be here.
Paul J Daly: 2:48
So we, you know on the show, we like to get a little bit more personal, like to understand the story behind the story. And I just realized I don't like tell me what you had for breakfast, but not that, not that. More like I don't know how you got into the auto industry.
Steve White: 3:04
Oh, okay, yeah, it's a funny story. So in 2004, I joined a local CBS affiliate and they said hey, can you help us sell these things called banner ads? So basically they wanted to help monetize. They wanted me to help monetize their website, and one of our bigger advertising groups at a TV station is auto dealers, yeah, and so I saw an opportunity with the local newspaper, which also owns the TV station, to say, hey, let's do a joint venture between our two companies and do a regional automotive portal. So together we launched Columbus carscom in 2005.
Kyle Mountsier: 3:54
So not okay. So like a listing site yeah, yep, that's a mate. Okay, so tell me, because then at that point you would have been like competing at that point with auto trader and cars basically were the only two things on the market. How did that go locally? Was it like something that got adopted or was it kind of a secondary?
Steve White: 4:13
you know it was it was definitely a secondary. I think it was a way for us to get into digital with auto dealers. To be honest, I mean, it was like, hey, we can put your listing up here and also we can sell you an online and offline package, you know. And so it was a good bundling type of type of effect, but you know, I would definitely say it was not generating the lead volume that, like a traditional marketplace was.
Kyle Mountsier: 4:43
Yeah, but it's like it's an easy in.
Steve White: 4:45
Yeah, it's a easy in.
Kyle Mountsier: 4:47
That's cool. So then, how did you so? Now you've become like the one of the tech forward people in auto. What was the progress? From like selling banner ads to right now I'm thinking about the some of the deepest tech that auto has.
Steve White: 5:02
Yeah, so. So then I left there. I got recruited from there to go work for a company called auto dealer traffic, which was like early pioneer in automotive search marketing. So I was there for like three years and then I went out on my own after that to start my own agency, and one of my first clients when I started was was rent record, and so my big pitch to him was hey, I won't be like a traditional agency, I won't charge you a percentage of spend, I'll only charge you when we, you know, perform on a lead basis. Or it was back in the day when, like keywords were really important, like your keyword ranking and stuff. So we came we came up with this thing where we said we will only charge you if you, we increase your keyword rankings. So I often joke. I say you know, if I wanted to pay my mortgage that month, I had to be really good at measurement. And so that was kind of the foray into getting really good measurement, because everything was tied to the performance of of how well we were doing from an SEO perspective.
Paul J Daly: 6:11
So what year about? Was this 2009. So can you tell us about re internet? We're still trying to be born, I feel like you, tell us about rechart in 2009, because we only know the like almost retired and a DA president version.
Steve White: 6:26
Yeah, he was super hands on. He was, yeah, he was, he was super hands on. In fact, while I was working with them, I was invited to their general manager meeting every single week and then would present updates on on different aspects of the digital marketing. And then the other thing that I did that was during the whole cash for clunkers. And so one of the things I did is I said, hey, Rhett, I think we should do something around clunkers. And I said I think I can get a phone number, 614 clunker. So I secured 614 clunker for them and they ran it on. My goodness, yeah, they ran on TV for I don't know six, nine months and they just killed it.
Paul J Daly: 7:14
Oh my gosh, think of that back in the day, yeah, especially.
Kyle Mountsier: 7:19
Oh my goodness, now I'm like wait a second actually has anyone created area code EV credit? Yeah right, like the same exact thing, right.
Paul J Daly: 7:28
Yeah, yeah, you still remember the number.
Kyle Mountsier: 7:32
We're five minutes into the podcast.
Steve White: 7:34
Everybody got a free one on us.
Kyle Mountsier: 7:38
Yeah, that's good, that's amazing. So so you're in the Columbus area, are you?
Steve White: 7:43
are you in Ohio?
Kyle Mountsier: 7:44
Steve White: 7:45
No, I went. I went to Indiana Indiana University, so I'm an IU fan, so we don't have much of a football team, so it's all basketball.
Kyle Mountsier: 7:54
All basketball. Yeah, you're like. I don't really care about at least Indiana fans don't care about man. That was. That was my hope.
Paul J Daly: 8:00
I was going to be all excited.
Kyle Mountsier: 8:02
I did go to school in Indiana, not Indiana University, just a little Piddley school, so it doesn't really count. So this is like I always love talking to people that have like we were talking to Melissa at Auto Nation and like her journey through just the multiple layers of digital in in just not even an auto, but in just the way that the world approaches digital and you've seen a similar journey being tied to it. Then you know so long in your career what like as, as we're turning the corner right now and and there's still, I feel like there's this desire to understand, desire to dig in to digital, right where I feel like, as an industry or even as the world, we still don't fully understand exactly like what we're doing, why we're doing it when we're doing it, what's the like new turn that you're feeling and sensing as you're like looking across it, because you you deal with more than just the auto industry at this point.
Steve White: 9:12
Yeah, yeah, we do. We have some non-automotive clients, but I think you know it is truly. I know it's cliche, but it is really about first party data and really leaning in on that. And that's you know what the panel was about with at a SoduCon with Nathan, and you know, and how he really leaned in on on first party data and being able to not only organize the first party data but also activate it, and I think the unique twist that he put on it was is he activated it programmatically and so being able to target these people from a cookie list perspective, but not only being able to target them, but also being able to measure it back, and so I think All right, all right, all right, we got to do a thing because because you just said a lot of words that sound super smart and we follow most of them.
Kyle Mountsier: 10:06
But let's track back. Let's go first first party data. Give us, just like the one, one or two quick one liner on what first party data means in automotive.
Steve White: 10:16
It's, it's all, all your data, all the data that you collect, whether it's you know, crm, dms, website data and even other first party data that not a lot of people think about. It's like it's the first party marketing data. So all the click trail data that you generate as well. So that's all, all, all your data that you own. All right, next word programmatic programmatic, so that's being able to buy media and real time bidding platforms. So like one example would be like the trade desk, and so the trade desk. You can buy CTV, you can buy video, you can buy display, you can buy programmatic audio, and so you're, you're bidding on all of those pieces of inventory, all right Next one cookie list future.
Michael Cirillo: 11:07
Kyle Mountsier: 11:08
Because, okay, but explain this one a little bit more, because I think, especially as someone who's measuring this stuff and looking at data all the time, it can kind of become like okay, cookie list future, it's not that scary. But also it is scary and there was a lot of, I feel like when Google first kind of came out and was like we're getting, you know, Safari came out, we're getting rid of cookies, like a year and a half ago everyone was up in arms and everyone was talking about it and then it's kind of gone by the wayside, but it's still a big issue. Talk about like what does that mean? For maybe give us like the perspective of the dealer and the consumer actually, Because I think both sides are are interesting.
Steve White: 11:42
Yeah, yeah. So I think from a dealer perspective it's, you know, the easiest thing to kind of put your arms around is like the notion of retargeting. So website retargeting are arguably one of the best end market audiences a dealer has access to. And so what happens is is when cookies, you know, are blocked, like on Safari, you can't retarget a Safari user Period. And you think about your most important consumer and a lot of them are using iOS devices and and they use a default Safari browser, so you can't, you can't reach those people. And so when you think about the statistics of what three to 4% of people might fill out a lead or do a phone call so that's 97% of your traffic that it goes out the window, you've potentially lost them forever, that you can't retarget them, so so, so that's super important and you know, from a pragmatic perspective, leaning in on you know, different types of solutions that enable you to overcome some of those cookie blocking things that that Apple is doing. But then when, when Chrome comes along, then you're not going to be able to retarget anyone using, you know, using third party cookies. So it's a really big deal and I don't think enough people are focused on it. They're just kind of burying their head in the sand.
Kyle Mountsier: 13:07
Hmm, yeah, what does that mean for a consumer, because it's always like that's what we want, right? As as an advertiser.
Steve White: 13:15
Kyle Mountsier: 13:15
What does that mean for as a consumer?
Steve White: 13:17
Yeah, I think it. You know it's going to definitely impact personalization, because you know you can't, you can't personalize your creative now, once cookies go away. You think about it because you have to have that third party cookie bridge to be able to reach those people in different channels.
Paul J Daly: 13:37
And I think, at face value, consumers would like kind of knee jerk reaction, say yeah, I don't want anybody tracking me. I don't want companies knowing any of this information without fully understanding what that information granted. People leverage information in all types of ways, but from a marketing standpoint, the reason they have a better experience while browsing, while seeing advertising, is because it's relevant, because the creative is right, because the products are those that of which they're interested in.
Steve White: 14:06
Paul J Daly: 14:07
I think that, like there is this level of education even about what that means, because it's easy to get up in arms about like tracking and cookies and privacy, but on the other side, the marketers are saying wait, wait, wait, wait wait wait, you know, I think, I really think Elon Musk said it best, like when advertising is relevant and well done, it's actually content.
Steve White: 14:32
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And how many times have you been on like shopping for something and you're like what was the name of that product? It's like I wish they would retarget me All this time, literally.
Paul J Daly: 14:44
Yeah, please, I know it'll come back around. No, no, they shut the spend off. It's over. Right, dang it Our head writer, chris Reeves. He just made a post on LinkedIn I think it was today, maybe yesterday and it said dear YouTube, my handrail is officially hung in my new house. Please stop showing me how to hang it. You know what I mean.
Michael Cirillo: 15:04
Yeah that's amazing.
Kyle Mountsier: 15:08
Oh man. So then how do we so? Okay, we've got all of like, all of those are the facts. That's what we're dealing with as an industry, whether people like it or not, but how do we translate that to something that's real, that's actually actionable in the store, to create like, not just create demand, but assume the demand that's already there? What are things that people can actually be doing right now to make sure that they're solving for that, especially as, like, ios 17 has totally changed the game and then we're gonna see more updates with Chrome and more updates with iOS. What are people doing right now?
Steve White: 15:46
Yeah, I think it's. You know, leveraging different platforms that are out there, that will enrich your first party data with different coculus identifiers. And so you know, making sure, like two of the identifiers that we use with our clients are ramp ID, which is live ramps identifier, and then the trade desk has UID 2.0. And so when you onboard your first party data, making sure that you're also enriching it with other types of identifiers so that you can reach these people in environments where cookies are no longer supported. And so not to I mean just to nerd out for a second, like in the and what they call in the programmatic bid stream. Basically, it is where there are different types of identifiers that are coculus that you can target against. And so that's what happens when you're bidding on a piece of inventory, when you're basically sending an identity envelope of identifiers whether it's a hashed email, whether it's an IP address or UID 2.0 or a ramp ID. So making sure that your partner meet different types of providers that can do that for you is critical.
Paul J Daly: 17:06
Where's the biggest information gap right now? When it comes to educating dealers, marketing managers, about the change that's coming, what they need to do now and what they don't need to do now, I think is also a thing, because it's there's a lot of skies following rhetoric. What would you say Like here's what you need to pay attention to now, here's what you need to be aware of, but you don't have to do anything right now.
Steve White: 17:28
Right, I would say the first thing is identify where all your data sources are. So make sure you've got. You can easily download all those different data sources.
Paul J Daly: 17:40
Let me start right there. In your experience, how many, how many dealers understand all of their data sources Like would know how to do that.
Steve White: 17:51
Oh, they'd have to make several phone calls to be able to get that done, right.
Paul J Daly: 17:57
And so you feel like there's a big. I mean there's obviously a good bit of work.
Michael Cirillo: 18:01
Paul J Daly: 18:02
So dealers would even know who to call.
Steve White: 18:07
Uh, probably not. Okay, I got to know. Yeah, I was like I'll say it Right, so got it. Got it First.
Paul J Daly: 18:13
Identify your data sources and make sure that you have access and free flowing. You know ownership of those Right. Yep, okay.
Steve White: 18:21
And then the next thing I think is, you know, develop a segmentation strategy. How do you want to segment your data? So, like when you, when you export it, make sure you're exporting the fields that you want to be able to, uh, to segment on, if that makes sense. So, like you know, things, things like you know the day that they last service, you know the day that they obviously purchased the lease expiration, all that kind of stuff, and so just be thinking about how you want to, uh, to segment your data.
Kyle Mountsier: 18:50
Yeah, when I think about segment, I also think about message, like who do you want to talk to and what do you want to say? And that's going to create the segment right, like if you have a type of people that are potentially in your data, you know you're going to be able to get to that database and a message that you need to get to them. That's how you're going to need to segment, that's the data that you need to pull out or, you know, grab out of those data sources in order to create those segments. And so it's like, uh, like my, our joint good friend, uh, ben Hadley, always, he always says like, begin with the press release in mind as the Amazon strategy. Right, what do you want? What do you want the message to say? That you can track back to that so that when you're extracting the data and putting it in a repository, then you can action off that data.
Michael Cirillo: 19:33
Paul J Daly: 19:35
Kyle Mountsier: 19:38
It's like it's. It sounds so easy, but it is very difficult Cause I mean you guys have put in what eight, seven, eight, nine years or something like that into just being able to grab all that data and put it into one place, right?
Steve White: 19:52
Yeah, yeah, and it still struggles, oh yeah.
Kyle Mountsier: 19:57
And and what are like? Cause you're? You're pulling in clairvoy, like is pulling in many more data sources than even maybe a dealer might have access.
Steve White: 20:05
Yeah, at this point. Yeah, so like to be able to.
Kyle Mountsier: 20:08
Yeah, so what's going on?
Steve White: 20:09
Yeah, so like our, our tracking code is on every major North American automotive marketplace. So we are tracking like 130 million shopper sessions every single month, generating 800 million page use. So we're like we're literally adding a billion rows of data to our data warehouse every single month. Just a couple of two trees. That's unbelievable, yeah.
Kyle Mountsier: 20:32
That's unbelievable. So what are you excited about next? What? What do you like? What are you all excited about leveraging or getting into next?
Steve White: 20:42
with all of that data at hand, you know, I think, uh, just different uh partnership opportunities data collaboration, partnership opportunities I think are going to be huge. You know, things like we've talked about this in the past where we've got a couple of tests where we can identify when, uh, a customer of one of our clients is back in market shopping on a marketplace, and so this customer maybe, maybe, bought three, four years ago and suddenly is back shopping on a marketplace. Imagine being able to now programmatically serve them an ad. And we're doing that today. We're doing that today and we're and we're tracing it all the way back through the entire consumer purchase journey. So it's those that, those. That's probably the biggest thing where I'm super excited because I think it really enables a dealer to get more out of their first party data.
Kyle Mountsier: 21:30
Yeah Well, because retention is everything right now. Yes, yeah, yeah Well, steve, you've given us, like everybody on the pod, that everyone listen is like pause, right down, down, down, down, down down. There's been a lot of rich stuff. I'm so glad you are a part of the industry because you give us deep, vast knowledge every single time we hang out. Thanks for being a part of a Soda con and to be a part of the Soda world, and on behalf of myself and Paul and Michael, who couldn't be here because you know he's got James, uh uh, appreciate you being here on auto.
Steve White: 22:04
Yeah, yeah, love you guys, appreciate you guys, and I think also the cool story about how a Soda con got started was pretty awesome as well, with the whole Jim McKelvie connection.
Paul J Daly: 22:14
Yeah, oh yeah, yes, for sure, all the way back oh that's right.
Kyle Mountsier: 22:19
Wait, wait, wait, okay, we can't end the pod. We can't end the pod here. Everybody this is the PS. We forgot.
Paul J Daly: 22:26
Okay, love. I'm going to start the story and this will probably be the one that gets clipped out of the podcast and put first. I'm so glad you just brought that up.
Kyle Mountsier: 22:37
Godly, what were we doing, steve?
Paul J Daly: 22:39
I don't know. Well, I mean, ask the things that I didn't know, the story that most people didn't know. Okay, let's, let's talk about this for a second. So Kyle is still working at a dealership and he was asked to speak at digital dealer in Tampa in 2021, 2020, 21, 21.
Michael Cirillo: 22:58
Paul J Daly: 23:00
I'm going to go up to hear my boy, kyle, speak for the first time. Some guys sits next to me or just chatting and he's like, hey, yeah, we're talking about business and startup life and all that stuff. And he's like I read this great book and he's like it's called the innovation stack, so really wrote it down. I ordered it on the spot Cause I was like okay, it's, it's credible reference, right, or a re recommendation, and I love books. So, by the book, we sit there, we watch Kyle light up the room. It was amazing. After that, obviously, kyle and I started you know, we started a small consultancy together and then a Sodu just like kind of kept spinning up and then a soda kind of comes around and, uh, read the book innovation stack, flipped it to Kyle. Kyle reads it. We're like this is exactly what we're trying to do. Like Jim McKelvie, founder of square, and talked about Southwest Airlines and Bank of America, they took a small thing and realized there were people just outside the fringe that wanted to be involved but they had no way to do it, like credit card processing. So we're like that's what we're doing with a Sodu. We're taking like the people on just on the next level out to bring them a step in. We had get Jim McKelvie to speak at a Soda Con 2022. And I was like man I can't remember for the life of me who recommended that book. Kyle's looking at his pictures from the day and then you are walking into a Sodu con and we were talking about and you're like, that was me and I was like so good, so good Personally, steve, actually so many people have you to thank for what a song is today and the fact that we like, literally, you're the reason Jim McKelvie was at a Sodu con 2022 period. End of story. Actually, I have that. You can probably see it in the back, it's right there. Yeah, that's the copy of the book that. That's exact copy I bought when you recommended to me was at my house when I got home, so right here.
Kyle Mountsier: 24:44
There you go. That's awesome. Hey, so good. I haven't read that, but people should read that.
Steve White: 24:48
Oh heck yeah. Thank you, steve. So much for all that. Yeah, that's a great story.
Kyle Mountsier: 24:54
Well, till next time, yeah, but great stories at the beginning and at a pod. Thanks for joining us on Auto Collapse.
Steve White: 25:01
Yeah, thanks guys.
Paul J Daly: 25:06
I'm so glad he brought the story up at the end of the show because we met for the first time outside Was it the first time Outside of a Sodu con? The first one, 2022. He was like I was the one that gave you innovation stack and we had Jim McKelvie speak at that event, and so he got to meet Jim McKelvie as a result of him recommending the book to be you know, two years prior. It's just, he's that guy. I'm so glad he's in the middle of that story. I'm so glad it's him.
Michael Cirillo: 25:38
You know what's universe is starting to like we're starting to find common stars in this solar system.
Kyle Mountsier: 25:44
Yeah, they're tying this whole lot of reasons separation, okay so tie that, because these are the ones that are the ones that are the cause. He's also the data guy right that I was talking about and it's like, when you think about like all of the audiences and people who people who do things like this, also do things like this, it starts to like it gets out of the digital world and what we're finding is like people that feel and experience the life in the same way in the world, the same way. There's this almost like this pool to like we're all kind of gonna come find the center and that's what like innovation stack and the introduction of all of us and the introduction of how, what a so-do means to the industry. Like it actually maps to how Clarevoy is thinking about data on that side, on the digital side, because our offline, like bodies and world actually interacts in a similar way that does.
Michael Cirillo: 26:45
I love that. That's what general consumer sentiment is. Did you know your phone's listening to you? That's how you see ads, that I was just talking about Harry Potter land and now I'm seeing ads for it and it's like he's sitting here going like is that all you think we know about you?
Steve White: 27:04
One billion lines in that, one billion you say that and I'm like, hey, I don't think we throw around the billion dollar.
Michael Cirillo: 27:14
I don't think we're gonna throw around the billion word Like it's nothing these days. But I was talking to my kids once just on, just to like round this off in my brain, tie a bow on it. I was talking to my kids once. I'm like what's the difference between a million and a billion? They're like I don't know and I'm like a million seconds is two and a half weeks long, 84,600 seconds in a day. One million seconds, two and a half weeks, a billion seconds, 31 and a half years.
Paul J Daly: 27:42
Yeah, big difference that's nuts and those rows thousand.
Michael Cirillo: 27:45
X how much? Yeah, your phone's listening to you, by the way PTW.
Paul J Daly: 27:51
Well, on that note, we're not listening to you, You're listening to us. Thank you so much for that. On behalf of Kyle here, Michael Cyrillo and myself, Thank you for listening to Auto Collapse.
Speaker 2: 28:03
Sign up for our free and fun to read daily email for a free shot of relevant news and automotive retail media and pop culture. You can get it now at a so to dot com. If you love this podcast, please leave us a review and share it with a friend. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you next time. Welcome to Auto Collapse. We're recording.
Michael Cirillo: 28:37
We're rolling. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Paul J Daly: 28:39
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.