A Conversation with Fox's VP of Marketing Technology Kevin Cuxil
Speaker 1: Welcome to the In The Clouds podcast. In The Clouds is a marketing cloud podcast powered by Lev, the most influential marketing focused Salesforce consultancy in the world. Lev is customer experience- obsessed, and podcast hosts Bobby Tichy and Cole Fisher have partnered with some of the world's most well known brands to help them master meaningful one- on- one connections with their customers. In this podcast, they'll combine strategy and deep, technical expertise to share best practices how- to's and real- life use cases and solutions for the world's top brands using Salesforce products today.
Bobby Tichy: I wish there was a video component for this podcast, because Cole, your mustache is for anybody listening... Oh, specifically, before we get started, I should say, I would like to give a huge shout out to my mother- in- law, who knows nothing about Salesforce marketing cloud and a week and a half ago wrote me and asked me why I've never given her a shout out in the podcast because apparently she listens to the podcast. She also told us that we were way too harsh on Nick during our last podcast.
Cole Fisher: No. That's debatable.
Bobby Tichy: I think if she met Nick she would understand why we're so hard on him.
Cole Fisher: I think if she met his uber- supportive family, she'd realize that we have to take him down a peg or two.
Bobby Tichy: Oh definitely.
Cole Fisher: Basically our duty now.
Bobby Tichy: Well today is a very exciting episode because we've got a special guest on who, I'll let him introduce himself here shortly, but someone who we've worked with for a little while and as we've gotten to know him and understand his marketing technology stack, we've really appreciated a lot of the different elements that they've implemented and brought together. So Kevin, if you wouldn't mind do a brief introduction of yourself, we'll jump in from there.
Kevin Cuxil: Sure. So I'm Kevin Cuxil. I'm vice president of marketing technology and marketing science for Fox Corporation.
Bobby Tichy: Marketing science. What does that mean?
Kevin Cuxil: We realized that in addition to the marketing technology stack that there's some heavy analytics that needed to happen on that backend data. And so what we've done is partnered with our data science team and we have some analyst, our group of analysts who do this specialized tuning. I'm going to talk about it a little bit more in detail as well, but things like predictive analytics in terms of engagement that then feed back into Salesforce marketing cloud. So really a group that's a hybrid between data analysis and data science that connects directly to marketing data.
Bobby Tichy: This isn't something we talked about ahead of time, but something that Cole and I have been talking about quite a bit. So you guys have a data science team internally at Fox, do you also leverage any technology to experiment against your own data scientists?
Kevin Cuxil: We haven't really. We've really been developing the models right now. I think we've gotten to a good place with some of those models. We haven't really implemented additional technology, other than some of the Einstein stuff that comes out of the box.
Bobby Tichy: That's what I'm always curious of is, you'll hear different companies, specifically Salesforce talk about the Einstein capabilities, which I think for what they are, are great, but at the same time, if you've got your own data science team that's focused on your subscribers, your customers, the groups that you are going after and the specific goals and objectives, it's going to be a lot better than any kind of agnostic technology that a platform might provide.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah, totally agreed. I think when it comes to this predictive modeling, it's specific to our data, however, I think there are things like send time optimization, SMC, it's really good for what it is, right? We don't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel with that internally, so we use a little bit of a hybrid in that scenario.
Cole Fisher: I like that approach too. I always tell customers that we love having the out- of- box Einstein features, but if you have the capability to bandwidth the teams and resources around something like that, it's always good to augment that or come up with models that may either compliment or oppose or even propose new ideas, because yeah, to your point, sometimes optimization, for example, is great to have and most ESPs or companies aren't even using that right out of the box, and so just having that in place is a great first step. What you might find is, depending on your business or your cycles or things like that, 90 days may not be the window that you need, which is what Einstein uses. You may need something different or other inputs, and so I like the idea of marrying out of the box features or technology with whatever we have internally with data science and constantly growing and progressing those models.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. Yeah. Totally agreed. I think we see that, especially with certain seasonality, with some of our news product. When you have election cycles, it's once every two to four years, you're going to see these cycles and so you really have to retrain those models based off historical data that's not just 90 days, things like that. So, absolutely agree with you.
Bobby Tichy: Well, especially for you guys with so many different products and services that you're providing, I'm sure a lot of that modeling changes based on the channel or the property that you might be trying to increase engagement on or promote at that particular point in time. What's been your overall strategy for building your martech stack?
Kevin Cuxil: I think we really had three main focus areas. The first is we had to be omnichannel. We have to do email push, in- app, paid, social, add server integration, all of that needs to be coordinated. We need the ability to do that. I think the second piece for us was we wanted to build an in- house team of experts. So, while we did deployment and we certainly partnered with Lev and consultants from time to time on jump starting certain special projects, we make sure that knowledge transfer takes place at the internal team. We actually have a former Lev person on one of my teams right now. So that's always fun to talk about. But that was the other piece. I think that the last piece is the raw data and being available in our data mark for the marketing science team and then data science team to start to leverage and then pipe back into the platform. So those are the three main components we focused on as we thought about our stack.
Bobby Tichy: Just a follow up to that, on that first point, talking about the Omni channel piece of it and the orchestration. What tool do you guys use, if you can share, to leverage or to actually build out the orchestration?
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. So we're using Journey Builder pretty heavily in that regard. So everything from onboarding journeys have gotten more and more sophisticated with some AB testing for things like Fox Nation to now, even our predictive analytics that we're doing now, we're predicting user engagement based off of their activity, but we're building out different experiences for those users based off of what type of next best action we want them to take, whether that's download an app, get another video start in some type of some type of new series. What have you.
Cole Fisher: So first off, let me just find out how long have you been in this role at Fox?
Kevin Cuxil: So I joined when we started inaudible Fox a few years ago. Obviously I've been with Fox about 10 years now between e- commerce marketing technology and other divisions, but the current role has been about three years, I think right now.
Cole Fisher: Okay. So I'm curious as to see what you've seen change over the past, especially with your martech strategy and thinking, especially lately, with this big shift of third to first party data. So how has that had an impact for you guys?
Kevin Cuxil: The first party data has become obviously much bigger thing over the last couple of years, trying to solve for the third party cookies going away. I think we've gone from an approach where we're reacting to RFPs. Really in the old days, especially when it comes to the ad sales side of things, we're reacting to RFPs from our customers and simply trying to say, okay, what data can we get and how can we improve the value of that data or the reliability of that data from a third party vendor? Now, I think we've learned that we need to stay ahead of the curve, and so we really took some time and really invested over the last couple years to go state of the art with our DMP, CDP, CRM, all of that stuff together. So now we are trying to keep our eye. We're piloting things like Google FloC even though that's not a thing anymore. We are piloting that in their origin. We've started to pilot some of the stuff. We look at Topics and understand how Google Topics is going to affect the ad ecosystem, how we can blend that with our first party data. So we're starting to look at some of those things, so really trying to stay ahead of the game as much as we can there with both the strategy, as well as the technology.
Bobby Tichy: Do you have a team that focuses on experimentation, whether it's in new features or within that data science group?
Kevin Cuxil: Yes. So we're looking at a lot of that stuff. Personalization and recommendation is really a big focus for us in this upcoming year. We've deployed a single- armed bandit model on a couple properties now, working on making that a multi- arm bandit, meaning multiple things, taking into account time of day, users, historical behavior, et cetera. And so really trying to build that into our products. That obviously takes some time because we need to tag it with data. We need all the right data points coming out of here. And so the team's really been putting a lot of work into our product team to make sure that we have all the right data coming out into our platform so our models have the right signals in order to make the right decisions. So that'll be a focus area in the next year.
Bobby Tichy: Within that experimentation team, like you mentioned, Google FloC or Google Topics, or rolling out certain tests, certain things, or even just start to learn certain new elements that come out, whether that be around first or third party data, or it could be a new CDP or something like that, do you guys have a team or a team member that focuses on keeping their eye on what's happening within the martech ecosystem and then aligning maybe what we should be looking at? Because the way I've heard about it from other companies your size is they'll have what are called innovation sprints, something like that, where they'll take a particular tool and they'll spend two weeks evaluating it, how could it apply to our business? Does it have business value? That sort of thing.
Kevin Cuxil: Yep. Yeah. We've recently, well, not recently about a year ago we moved to a scaled agile framework or safe. And so at the end of each three month increment, we actually reserve two weeks for innovation and planning. The first week is really that innovation piece that you're talking about there, where we're working with our vendors to look at the ecosystem, see what's next, see what we can pilot. And then the second week, of course, is spent a lot of planning for the upcoming program inaudible. But that's how we've addressed it. So it's not necessarily one person, but as a group we come together, we have an architecture group, we come together and talk about the different things and what we want to test and leverage during that innovation phase.
Bobby Tichy: I think that's such a big thing. And Cole, we talked to so many different clients who are not doing anything like that. It's really just focusing on whack- a- mole. What's the next priority based on what people internally are wanting. And I think a lot of times, and I'm sure Kevin you've seen this too, is marketing folks typically have a really hard time aligning to some kind of a methodology or framework. Within marketing, there's a lot of creativity, there's a lot of content people, there's typically a lot of folks who focus on the humanized element of marketing, which is certainly important, but not on the development side of marketing, which is, it's always that ongoing battle of who owns the technology? Is it marketing or is IT? Is it its own function? So it's really interesting to hear that you guys have a specific two week sprint essentially at the end of those three month increments, just for innovation and planning, which is pretty cool.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. Yeah. It's been really great. We put a lot of focus on personal development training also for our teams to make sure that they're upskilled and up to speed on all that with the latest stuff. And so I think for years we had exactly what you described. We're chasing the mail truck. What the next thing? Where do we get? And we made a decision a couple years ago, this needs to be a priority and we needed to get ahead of that. That was really in partnership with our ad tech team as well, to make sure that we're on the leading edge. Otherwise, we're not there. We're simply subject to everyone else's movements in the marketplace, which is not what where we want it to be.
Bobby Tichy: Do you have a current favorite martech tool, whether it's in your stack or outside of it?
Kevin Cuxil: I don't know if there's one in particular. We've deployed a OnePlus X as our data management platform. I really wound up getting in there just cause it has some really cool artificial intelligence machine learning. They've automatically mapped all of our stuff to IB taxonomies, so we can actually get some really interesting views in terms of people's affinity within our different platforms there. But I would say Journey Builder is probably a really close second. It's a great visual. It's great to sit and iterate with the marketing teams and talk about what if, and AB testing and times and all of the other stuff. So I would say a tie between those two.
Cole Fisher: And I'll just point out that we did not pay Kevin to say that just because it's a Salesforce tool.
Bobby Tichy: Although we did pay Kevin handsomely to be part of this podcast.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. Most of our budget, which is zero. So Bobby and I have talked about this before and we've even approached a subject in other podcasts before, but in your current stack you have multiple CDPs. Can you dig into, A, why have multiple CDPs, and then, B, what different functions those serve?
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. I think you got to always step back and define what is a CDP, right? Because it's such a broad thing. I think so many companies sitting on a lot of data said, oh, well, we're close to this, we should be a CDP. And others are more purpose built, I think, in that regard. So yeah, we have Tealium, we have Segment, we have Lytics all as CDPs in our platform, but we really focus on the strength for each one. Segment is really an amazing data orchestration tool. It has some really advanced features in terms of even some live data transformation, schema enforcement. So really that collection from all of our platforms, it's a really great tool for that. But when it comes to a data collection around the user and we wanted to ask them explicit questions and surveys and pulls and quizzes, it wasn't the ideal tool for that. We use Tealium tag management. It's an amazing tag management platform. It's very scalable. We get in there and all of our pixels are fired from in there in a privacy compliant way. So that's really an amazing tool on that side. And we went with Lytics as our main, what I'd call CDP, basically because it was out of box functionality. It allowed us to very quickly deploy widgets across websites for data collection, whether that's an email address or a survey or a quiz. Those are all really easy experiences to get out the box really quickly and it gives a lot of power to marketing teams where they aren't relying on dev teams to deploy code. So that's the direction that we've gone.
Bobby Tichy: It's really interesting. And one of the main reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast was around the CDP topic. Because, I think, there's so much confusion. It's like what marketing automation was probably 10 or 12 years ago, where it's still a fairly immature ecosystem at this point. There's a lot of different players, there's a lot of, what we would typically think of as marketing clouds saying that they have a CDP, there's a lot of immature CDPs out there. And I think too, I saw an infographic from Simon data around, there were four different pillars of what CDPs could potentially be, and so I think going back to your first point is really, you've got to start by defining what your business goals or objectives are by purchasing this piece of software. To your point around data orchestration and being a huge fan of how Segment does that or user data collection with Lytics. It's really important to identify, first, like everybody should before they buy any piece of software, what is the business value or the business objective that I'm trying to accomplish with this piece of software, with this purchase? And then going from there. You've already mentioned it a couple of times with Journey Builder, and obviously we're a big fan at the Salesforce marketing cloud. But what's your favorite thing about Salesforce marketing cloud?
Cole Fisher: Yeah. And I think it's along that line, one of the best things is the longer you have it, the more of those additional features and things like that get rolled out, additional or enhancements to Einstein features, things like that. But I think to counter that and to show that we're not being paid or just here to pump Salesforce's tires, what would you say that you wish marketing cloud could do better, specifically what are you doing to address that right now?
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah, we're a little bit unique in that we have a lot of business units. Fox, in addition to all the brands you probably know of, we have Fox sports, entertainment, news, 17 TV stations, we've got TMZ recently acquired. So we've got a lot of different, big 10 networks. We actually have 33 or 34 different business units set up within our platform, which I think is not typical of most of your deployments. So certainly we're working with Salesforce to try to get the roll out of those BU's to go faster. It's definitely a process of requesting the different products, getting IP addresses set up, things like that. And it's definitely always a challenge we need to make sure we plan ahead for right now. So that's the one thing. The one wishlist item that I've expressed to Salesforce too, that I think we really need is a desktop push within the mobile studio product. So we aren't able to really leverage that, so we're leveraging inaudible Lytics today because we need to be able to do desktop in addition to mobile in app and it doesn't necessarily make sense to have all those pushes in two or three different tools. And so that's the other challenge I think I've put to Salesforce.
Bobby Tichy: Well, you're telling the right place, because Marc Benioff doesn't listen to any other podcast except for this one. So I think that should be in the spring release. Should we guarantee it?
Cole Fisher: I would say it's pretty much a done deal. In fact, I think I just heard it being worked on right now.
Bobby Tichy: Awesome.
Kevin Cuxil: Awesome. I should come here more often.
Bobby Tichy: Cole's got a lot of pull.
Cole Fisher: That's what it is.
Bobby Tichy: So within that martech stack that you guys currently have, what's on deck to be implemented for you guys this year?
Kevin Cuxil: We've got more business units coming on board, big 10 network with their subscription product is going to be coming on board. We're trying to do deeper integration with some of our other acquisitions like TMZ, OutKick. We're in talks with the TV folks who are absolutely amazing, really smart people, on trying to unify more of the audience there. And we're going to do some additional CDP integration. So rolling that out to the 17 Fox TV stations that we own and operate across the country. So a lot of work for the team in the next 12 months.
Cole Fisher: Sounds like it. So let me just ask you this, if budget weren't consideration, time to value, implementation, none of that was consideration, what would be the wishlist item that you would implement if you could right now?
Kevin Cuxil: Definitely more automation of our models. I would speed up our personalization recommendation stuff. We've built some really amazing models. The teams currently built predictive engagement based off of things like what devices have you installed on? Have you installed it on web only? Are you also on living room or mobile? What type of content you're interacting with? Are you interacting with some of our daily shows? Are you interacting with movies? You're doing deep video on demand series engagement and binging. So we've got these models that actually predicting people's engagement over the next two months, and so what we can do is actually tell whether or not a cohort or an individual is healthier or unhealthy. And then we can actually send the signal into SMC as to the reason for that. And then they'll build the journeys. We're trying to automate as fast as we can. We're in process, but automating that stuff always takes a little bit of time. Obviously cleansing the data, make sure it's the right way so that we can adjust it in the Salesforce marketing cloud.
Cole Fisher: I feel like that's such a rabbit hole topic too, where it's, even if you could automate fast enough, there's always more and more and more that can be done. It's just marketing in general. If I have could have more inputs to the model, more models themselves, more variations of the models, more different types of sub segments of behavioral inputs to account for here, faster time to market with those, I feel like it's just one of those things constantly evolving. But yeah, I find myself just falling deep into that rabbit hole, just constantly. How cool could this be if we could get X, Y, and Z faster, sooner, more of it, whatever it is. So I feel you're paying, but I'll try to just avoid going down that spiral for right now.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah, yeah, totally agreed.
Bobby Tichy: How big is your team?
Kevin Cuxil: That's a good question. I think we're around 13 people right now across both groups, 13, 15, somewhere around there.
Bobby Tichy: And then one other thing that is top of mind, especially as people start to build out their marketing technology teams, or just more as marketing starts working with technology, do you guys handle all of the development? So specifically as it relates to platforms, I would say that you own, for lack of a better term. Are you guys managing all of the development and run the business operations, or are there any other teams internally that you work with to help with that?
Kevin Cuxil: No, we pretty much own our own platform. So I partner very heavily with data services and my teams are in those Redshift databases on a regular basis, but that's all in house that we've done. Again, depending on the product we'll definitely partner with a Lev or consultants on different platforms to do improvements. But for the most part, we've really found a lot of value in bringing that knowledge in house.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I think that's where most folks find the most amount of value is having... It's great, and obviously we love working with folks, but it's most important to have folks internally who can help run the business or innovate upon whatever that might look like. I also think it's great that you actually have ownership over these platforms like Salesforce marketing cloud, or Lytics or whatever it might be so that way there's not this jockying internally of having to reach out to another team, because that can be just as bad as having a third party consultant run those different things for you. So it's pretty awesome that you guys have full reign of not only the team internally, but also the platforms that you're interacting with.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. We're very fortunate in that regard. I think we made a conscious decision to make sure that we owned. We've had a lot of stops and starts using different scenarios where we didn't necessarily own all the data or the platforms, and I think we learned a lesson. So I think we've gotten to a good place.
Bobby Tichy: Last question. What's your biggest lesson learned from your time in the martech ecosystem?
Kevin Cuxil: I think it's interesting because there's so much overlap in all these tools. One tool started with emailing and grew out, another tool may have started with mobile analytics and then added on. And so really understanding your use case and what you're trying to achieve and going deep on each of the features and functionality. The same as what we see with the CDP landscape, three different CDPs, really going deep to understand how do those specific features within each of those tools map to what you're trying to do, long term? And then trying to pick the best ones there because there's so much overlap in the space. I think that's the biggest challenge.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. For sure. Everyone's jockeying for position. Like you mentioned, starting with email, exact target is the bread and butter of that where it started with email and then branched out into a couple different things, tried the social element, with co- tweet, that didn't work out too well. But we won't opine on that. And then, going into Salesforce and then there's all these different elements. And one thing that's always interesting too, especially as we think about Salesforce, Marketing Cloud, really any other platform, but what I always find interesting is innovation you find always comes from the outside. And what I mean by that is that for, I would say over the last 12 months or so, we've really seen Salesforce spend a lot of time, effort, and money around improving their mobile product. And I think that's a direct correlation to those competitors of Attentive and Braze doing some of these things in a more nimble fashion, so they're starting to lose some customers to those folks. So it's always interesting how it's a huge ecosystem, but it's also at the same time, to your point, quite small. And that's how I feel about the CDP market right now. I'm sure over the next 24 to 36 months, we'll see quite a few acquisitions, people continuing to innovate, and then you'll have four or five folks rise to the cream of the crop, like what we've seen within marketing automation.
Kevin Cuxil: Yeah. I think that's exactly right. I think the next step beyond that that I'm really interested to see is that converges the DMP and CDP space. Today we split that because ad tech is very specific and we need a very specific platform for that, but as Lytics and other CDPs start to make those connections to the ad tech world, you start to see some of that stuff converge. That'll be really interesting to see how that goes.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, absolutely. It'll be interesting to see too, is what happens, I think at this point, third party cookies are going away, but how DMPs can continue to build on the platforms that they've built to leverage or find new niches within that space, and then how do they integrate it across. Because some of those things that you mentioned around the wishlist items, how folks are engaging across different Fox properties or across devices, I think all of those things will become, obviously, so much more important and something that people have a lot of trouble with right now. I think again in the next 24 to 36 months, we'll see a couple of platforms start to do that really well, where that unique ID or persistent ID becomes much easier to manage and much easier to implement. So thank you again, Kevin, for doing this, we really appreciate it. As always at the end of our podcast we switch to completely unrelated, although this isn't really completely unrelated, it's somewhat related, but a favorite Fox, so it can include 20th Century Fox entertainment production of all time. So Cole I'll start with you.
Cole Fisher: So I guess, I don't know if it's just a brand recognition thing, but I go to the classics what I'm thinking about my favorites. And so, you've got your Bravehearts and things like that, but I think mine go to the family classics like Mrs. Doubtfire, or even holiday ones, especially. And Bobby is in the same boat. I'm a more of like a Home Alone, Miracle on 34th's guy. Bobby's definitely a Jingle All the Way guy. I crosstalk. But that's where I go, is probably like Home Alone, is probably numero uno for me.
Bobby Tichy: Home Alone's tough to beat.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. That's all time.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah.
Cole Fisher: Although, there've been eight other Home Alones afterwards.
Bobby Tichy: They just came out with a new one this year. But I don't think that was...
Cole Fisher: I watched it.
Bobby Tichy: Was it 20th Century?
Cole Fisher: I don't-
Bobby Tichy: We'll have to get someone from the...
Kevin Cuxil: Disney acquired that backlog. And so it's probably 20th Studios or something, whatever they're calling that.
Bobby Tichy: Oh, OK.
Kevin Cuxil: Not 20th Century, but it's same. That's how they got inaudible that way.
Cole Fisher: Regardless it fell off from the Macaulay Culkin years. We'll say that.
Bobby Tichy: Kevin, how about you?
Kevin Cuxil: Deadpool. It's one of those movies.
Bobby Tichy: That was going to be my answer.
Kevin Cuxil: It's one of those things where I had to watch it multiple times. I watched it probably four times just to get all the jokes because they're so quick and it's witty and that kept me really engaged. I don't remember the last I been that engaged with a movie for a while. So definitely crosstalk
Bobby Tichy: It's also one of the rare occurrences where the sequel was just as good, if not better, than the original, which I still go back and forth. Because the first one, when it came out, I don't think anybody really knew what to expect and it was so good. And then for the second one to be just as good, I think it's a little bit better, but it may just be recency bias, but I'll just say Deadpool 2, since you took Deadpool.
Kevin Cuxil: Fair enough.
Bobby Tichy: Do we have any sway in changing the 20th Studios name to 21st Studios now?
Kevin Cuxil: We do not. You can talk to Disney about what they want to do on that side.
Bobby Tichy: Oh, that's true.
Cole Fisher: So we just got all these inaudible enhancements for you guys and you're not going to scratch our backs now I guess so that's... I see how it is. It's cool.
Bobby Tichy: Well, Kevin, thank you again. Really appreciate it. As always, everyone you can reach us at intheclouds @ levdigital. com. Kevin, really appreciate you being on and shout out Doris Fisher.
Cole Fisher: Nice.
Kevin Cuxil: Thanks for having me on.
Bobby Tichy: inaudible guys.
Kevin Cuxil joins hosts Bobby and Cole to discuss innovations in marketing technology at Fox Corporation. Topics include Kevin's role as VP of Marketing Technology, having an internal data science team that leverages data science tools outside the organization, and discussions about some of Kevin's favorite tools and Salesforce strategies.