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Matt Gillis - Defending Merchants From The Malicious And The Opportunistic

icon-calendar 2021-03-17 | icon-microphone 1h 2m 16s Listening Time | icon-user Debutify CORP

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I can't count how many episodes were in, actually I could I just chose not to, anyways, as I carry on, I find myself continuously surprised and challenged by what's new for me to learn. Today's episodes with Matt Gillis, fellow Torontonian and CEO of the SaaS du jour clean.io stands out as much as any episode can. It turns out, those coupon extensions are actually doing merchants harm, and after recording this episode I uninstalled the one I was using, Honey. I also threw out a bunch of subway coupons but to find out why that's relevant, you'll just have to listen. 

Matt Gillis is the CEO of clean.io, a digital engagement cybersecurity platform that protects revenue and user experiences on some of the biggest websites and ecommerce storefronts on the planet. Matt brings with him 25 years of mobile, media, and technology expertise building and operating companies from startup to scaled global market leader delivering $1B+ in annual revenues.



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Matt Gillis: [00:00:00] When we started to really peeling back the layers of the onion, what we found are that there's a class of what I would call Chrome extensions that are able to inject code into a user experience without the permission of the website owner. So if you think about that, that experience of you own your website, you own your e-commerce store, but you don't get to control the user experience. That's to me, that's pretty scary. We felt that folks that own e-commerce storefronts deserved the ability to have those same controls and be able to own the client experience and make sure that the experience was exactly what they wanted when people come to their website.

Joseph: [00:00:41] You're listening to  Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind of insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews, with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research. Your time is valuable, so let's go.

At this point. I can't count how many episodes were in. Actually I could, I just choose not to. Anyways, as I carry on, I find myself continuously surprised and challenged by what's new for me to learn. Today's episode with Matt Gillis, fellow Torontonian and CEO of the SaaS du jour clean.io stands out as much as any episode can.

 It turns out those coupon extensions are actually doing merchants harm. And after recording this episode, I uninstalled the one that I was using. I also threw out a bunch of subway coupons, but to find out why that's relevant, you'll just have to listen. 

Matt Gillis. It is good to have you here on Ecomonics.

 How are you doing today? How are you feeling? 

Matt Gillis: [00:01:42] I'm so pumped to be here and it's good to be on with a fellow Torontonian. You know, it doesn't, it doesn't happen that often. So I'm, I'm, I'm excited. 

Joseph: [00:01:48] It, it, it really doesn't. I think we had like one guy, um, Who was like, he was staying in Toronto for a while and then, and then he took off.

But yeah, we haven't had a, I think you're the first Torontonian. We've had a couple of conducts some Vancouverians, some Calgarians. Uh, yeah. It's, it's nice to meet you. And I noticed that, like you and I even just like before we started recording, I think we had like a particular Torontonian rapport where like, you know, it's kind of fun, but also like, all right.

You know, let's, let's get to it.  

Matt Gillis: [00:02:14] Let's get to business. Yeah. Now it's good. It's good. So, yeah. Great to be here. Thanks for having me, Joseph.

Joseph: [00:02:18] Thanks for being here. I think you're the second and guests that we've had, where they reached out to us to have you booked the first one was Matt Barnett of a Bonjoro.

That was it. See, I I'm, I'm interviewing quite a few people, so I'm always trying to make sure I remember everybody. So yeah, Matt Barnett of Bonjoro and, uh, you never do so I just want to say it does feel good to. Uh, to be reached out to, to, to be that means a lot.

Matt Gillis: [00:02:40] You're in high demand. 

Joseph: [00:02:41] That's what the data shows.

So. All right. Uh, I can't wait to ask you this question. It's the traditional question across this podcast and show it tons of other podcasts too. I, now that I'm keeping track of, but tell us who you are and what do you do? 

Matt Gillis: [00:02:53] So, uh, my name is Matt Gillis. I am Canadian, uh, but I'm also American. So I moved down here about, uh, 20 years ago now.

Um, I am a journeyman, uh, in the mobile industry. So, uh, I've been in mobile. My whole career, uh, started, uh, when I got out of, uh, university as they call it up in Canada. So I went to Wilfrid Laurier university, uh, down in Waterloo. Uh, but yeah, worked, uh, at wireless carriers and been mobile throughout, uh, and then kind of, uh, did a stint, you know, at a couple different startups.

Uh, and so the startup that I'm at now, uh, it's called clean.io. Uh, we're a digital engagement, security platform. We help websites, whether it's, you know, the websites that you go and read your news on, um, or the websites where you actually go and buy things, we help protect those engagements in revenue, um, from malicious and untrusted JavaScript.

Um, and so we make those experiences safe, uh, for users and. In, in most cases, what we're doing is we're really giving controls back to these websites so that they can protect their user experiences, their revenue and their margins. And just, you know, we think that, listen, you own your website, you should be able to control what happens on your website.

And we think it's kind of gotten a little out of control over the years. So that's, that's what we do. 

Joseph: [00:04:03] Yeah. I have, as long as I've been on the internet, I think like one of the first things that we discover are pop-up ads and I've never found pop-up ads to particularly be trustworthy. It's actually in like the last maybe.

Well, really frankly, since I started doing this, uh, doing this show and I started understanding that e-commerce on a more intuitive level. That's when, uh, th those were really the first times I've trusted pop-ups because those ones have all been like website specific. That's still part of the brand. We know that it's them sending the message.

Uh, usually it happens with my mouse, just so happens to be surreptitiously heading towards the X button and they say, hold on a second, hold on. How would you like 10% off your next order to be assigned for our newsletter? So.

Matt Gillis: [00:04:45] But wait, there's more. Right. Is kind of what it is. 

Joseph: [00:04:47] Exactly. And that is all, um, something, yeah. You know, stores are using myself included, right? Cause I'm a, I'm a seller now. And we want that leverage because we need everything to count. We, we spent a lot of money advertising to customers and if we focus entirely on just advertising to customers, then we're going to lose, uh, what we need is remarketing.

And we've talked to plenty of people about email remarketing. We've talked to people about affiliate marketing, just making sure that once people are a part of our website or part of our business, that they trust us and they want to stick around. So what you're doing is making sure that if there are any mistakes and there's any trust loss, it is actually is on me and not on some third party who has, uh, I have no idea what they're up to.

So let me start by asking you from the perspective of a browser and a shopper, what is it that I'm running into as a user that you're trying to protect me from? 

Matt Gillis: [00:05:42] Maybe what I'll do, um, is take one step back of, uh, and articulate how we got here. Right. And so, yeah. 

Joseph: [00:05:48] That sounds good to me.

Matt Gillis: [00:05:48] I mean, you, you talked a little bit about, um, you know, how expensive it is to acquire, you know, people to get to your site.

And you've spent all this money on your site and, you know, you want to try and convert them and try and, you know, turn these shoppers into buyers. Um, our business started three years ago. Um, we went out to solve this age-old problem called malvertising malvertising is, um, exactly what that, uh, where it says it's malicious advertising.

So it's bad actors that are buying ads on a website, uh, and their whole intent is to take over the user experience. So think about your favorite news site that you go to to consume your news every day. If they have ads on those sites, Bad actors were buying those ads to destroy the user experience, to get you to land on that page.

And I think, you know, I've used this example before where it all of a sudden pops up and says, congratulations, you want an Amazon gift card or fill out the survey, Mr. Bell mobility customer. And, you know, tell me all these data points about this experience inherently destroys the user experience, right?

So, you know, if you were reading a news story, you kind of get hijacked away to a page. You can't hit the back button because they've figured out how to disable that. Um, you know, maybe it pops you into the app store and you then have to restart the president's a terrible experience. When we say to folks, um, you know, you own your website, you've spent a ton of money, um, you know, creating content, you know, so let's just focus on that content driven ecosystem.

Now, before we go into e-commerce, but in the contractor driven ecosystem, you, you know, you created amazing content. You then have spent money to drive eyeballs to your website and your sole way of making money is through ads. And so, gosh, you know, shouldn't, you make sure that once you've done those few things, that when people get to your site, they have a delightful experience and they don't get, you know, hijacked away somewhere.

And so that's the problem that we went out and solved our tech for that runs on 7 million different websites a month. Um, so we're operating at massive global scale. Some of the biggest names that, you know, like we don't, we're a security company, so cybersecurity comes. So we don't name our customers. Um, but like some of the biggest names on the internet is where our software operates to solely preserve the user experience and revenue.

When I say revenue, it's important because if you're a website that makes money through ads, you have a very predictable set of KPIs where you know that, you know, when you go to a website, you generally would spend, you know, eight minutes there, you know, surfing reading stories, you get clicked into the next story and you spend time there.

If that site is under attack, all of those KPIs get destroyed. So they, they, you know, these folks really have a good understanding of, of what a user should be monetizing, how much they should be monetizing and that sort of thing. We went out and solved that problem. And as we were solving that problem, we started to see behavior on some of our sites, some of the partners that we work with who have, uh, content, where they monetize with ads and e-commerce.

And so we started to see these behaviors happening specifically on those websites, where there were hijacks and redirects and things happening, where we couldn't really attribute it back to an ad that was causing the behavior. And so when we did a bunch of R and D, we started realizing that there were a whole bunch of things outside the ads ecosystem that are causing really harmful user experiences.

Um, and to the detriment of these, these website owners, um, when we started really peeling back the layers of the onion, what we found are that there's a class of what I would call Chrome extensions, you know, Safari extensions, Firefox Fox extensions, um, that are able to inject code into a user experience without the permission of the website owner.

So if you think about that, that experience of you own your website, you own your e-commerce store, but you don't get to control the user experience. That's to me, that's pretty scary. Um, when we started looking at who these folks were, what we saw is that predominantly they were a lot of these, uh, discount promotional code, uh, automation, extensions, things like honey, wiki buy, which is now called capital one shopping, you know, rakuten, you name it.

There's a whole bunch of them. And all of these folks, uh, and users have said, um, I'm okay. I'd like that extension on my computer. Um, and when you get to check out these extensions, pop up and offer you massive discounts. Um, and so we just felt that, uh, you know, in that similar vein to how we've stopped malicious JavaScript from ruining the experience on ad supported websites, we felt that, um, folks that own e-commerce storefronts deserved the ability to have those same controls and to be able to own the client experience and make sure that the experience was exactly what they wanted.

When people come to their website. So that's where we are. That's, you know, so we just launched a brand new product it's called clean cart. Uh, and, uh, it gives those controls back to e-commerce merchants. We think it's important.

Joseph: [00:10:32] Okay. So we're going to definitely unpack this a little bit more compact, unravel something along those lines, because this being the in e-commerce podcast, um, I think the clean cart is definitely something that I want to make sure that we, uh, spend our time on today.

So before I ask you some questions about honey, Two things one, uh, just so our listeners know I'm a big believer in transparency. I have honey installed on my browser. Uh, I mentioned it. Um, I'm not, uh, though, uh, at the time of this recording, there was a lot of excitement going on. Uh, you're looking at the proud owner of one single stock in AMC.

Matt Gillis: [00:11:07] Today's not a good day. I'll tell you that. But if you, hopefully you haven't looked at it. 

Joseph: [00:11:11] Uh, I, I have not, but I would take your word for it. Here's what I want to do is I want to start with the perspective of being a ethical buyer and honey is highly appealing. I see the, I still see the ads for it a lot, a fellow by the name of Mr. Beast is like, it's free money. It scans for coupons. And then it loads the best coupons. And I think, okay, well this all sounds pretty good. They're not, it's not like they're, they're generating coupons from scratch that can then manipulate the, the value. These are coupons that are produced. So that's what I assumed.

What I didn't know. And what I found out, having looked into, uh, what, uh, you're up to is that what happens with these coupons is that they're being used more than they're intended to be used. So if a coupon is only supposed to be used five times, it ends up scraping that coupon and then it exceeds the usage.

So let's talk about this. What are in specific, what are the things that, um, these, uh, what do you, what do you want to call them? Uh, browser extensions?

Matt Gillis: [00:12:10] Promo code discount extensions. Yeah. 

Joseph: [00:12:12] Yeah. Promo extensions. Uh, what is it that they're really doing to, to harm these businesses?

Matt Gillis: [00:12:16] I think, you know, you, you kind of articulated, maybe we'll talk about the user experience and how they work.

Right. And so the first thing that they do is that if you have one of them on your machine, all right, so it's following your behavior wherever you go. So it understands everything. And when you're giving it a license to your data that you probably, you know, you might, might not want, but you've accepted that because you've accepted their terms and conditions.

I'll walk you through what happens when a legitimate store and the intent of the promo code. So like you said, if I owned a furniture store online, I wanted to partner with interior designers and give them an exclusive code. So let's just say I wanted to get interior designers to use an exclusive code, to get a discount so that they would know who my store is.

And then they would tell their individual consumers, Hey, you should buy these drapes or these curtains or these, you know, wallpaper or carpets at this store. And so let's just say they gave you a 50% off. If you have honey on your machine, um, you, uh, would then, uh, buy a few things. You'd go to checkout and you would punch in the code, a designer, 50.

At checkup, um, that code was intended for you, not for the world, but for you. Um, when you hit enter, it will generate your discount and you'll see that you've got 50% off, but what also will happen when you get to checkout is Honeywell pop-up and say, Hey, guess what? We've got a few codes we'd love to try for you.

And you're like, Hmm, maybe I should try them too. And see if I can save more than 50% the moment you say, okay. The first thing that honey does, is it scrapes that coupon out of your checkout and now puts that into their database to use for everybody else. And so, like the real harm there is, is now the coupon that was intended solely for you.

Or for you and a few other interior designers is now out there in the wild and everybody's getting access to it. Um, so from a business perspective, and by the way, the example that I'm telling you is a real life example from one of our merchants who is on our, on our product right now. Um, they did this and what happened to them?

Well, guess what? Their business was not sustainable to have every single person that came through the storefront to get 50% off. Like it just, it, it they're losing money. Um, second, what they did was they actually had to start canceling orders. It created a customer service nightmare, uh, where they actually now had to call customers and say, Hey, listen, that wasn't intended for you.

Unfortunately, honey picked it up. Um, and so like, it really has, you know, uh, massive ramifications beyond the original positive intent of, Hey, let's reward some folks and drive some sales. And so that's kind of the biggest challenge now, like you said, every everybody's like, Oh, I love a discount. I love a discount.

Well, I don't know. I mean, I've been, uh, I shop online a lot. Uh, I've gone to a store and, um, and for research purposes, obviously I have honey and Wiki by I've got all these coupon extensions on my computer. Um, one that popped in the other day was military 20. So like, I don't know, I'm not part of the military nor did I, you know, serve for my country.

Now I imagine the intent of that is to reward the military. I've also seen first responder 30. And so like, you know, in this day and age, I think it's like, you know, you're, you're getting something that you don't really deserve and people are taking it. So, you know, there's like, obviously there's, you know, there's ethical ramifications.

There's a whole bunch of reasons why I just don't think this is a great thing for everybody. Um, and so, yeah, we're helping, you know, give merchants the ability to control that and, um, make sure that the people that, um, legitimately should get these discounts should be getting them. We don't believe that like coupons and promo codes are a bad thing.

We think they're great. You should use them to help drive sales. You should be able to partner with a social media influencer and give that social media influencer an exclusive code, because hopefully they can drive their audience to your site and buy things. But if on a Friday you did a partnership with a social media  and on Saturday, there are thousands of orders being processed with that social media influencers coupon in many cases, you know, unless it's Kim Kardashians, something tells me that there's, you know, an attribution challenge.

And so one it's giving discounts where there weren't where they're not warranted to. It creates an attribution nightmare for me. Um, three they're probably now paying affiliate fees when no one yeah. Really helped drive that sale. So it's really this, this flywheel of negative issues that I think we're trying to solve for.

And, um, you know, and then you go into the time and energy spent kind of chasing your tails. Of like, you know, trying to get good data to make good marketing decisions. You know, one of the people that's in our trial told me that, you know, they, uh, sponsored a podcast, believe it or not. Uh, and they used an exclusive code for that podcast.

And guess what, like sales through the, from that podcast went through the roof? Well, it had nothing to do with the podcast and they were about to make a very key marketing decision based on the data that they thought was right. They thought they had unlocked the real secret to driving sales through podcasts.

So, you know, it's just, uh, it, it, I think it's created a lot of, uh, you know, a lot of stir, a lot of fear and uncertainty and doubt as to like, you know, your marketing data and your sales data. Um, and it's created a, uh, a lot of, I would say financial impairment for merchants. You know, so yeah, it's a it's crazy times for sure.

Joseph: [00:17:38] I never realized that. I never thought that if an influencer puts out a coupon and then that coupon is disseminated via honey and not necessarily the influencer themselves, then it creates, uh, an artificial view of how much, uh, of sway that person actually had and how much, uh, attention is coming from, uh, from the followers over to the store and that throw.

And then not only is it going to cost them those sales, but then it's going to cost them money. If they make what they assume is an informed decision based off sales. 

Matt Gillis: [00:18:06] Yeah, the crazy part is I've heard that example ad nauseum, like, cause obviously e-commerce merchants are always looking for ways to improve, you know, conversions and throughput and obviously your business isn't that like you're, you're trying to give them, you know, a better way to create more engaged shoppers and, and you know, better themes and all that sort of stuff.

So, you know, you're doing the right things, I think for merchants and what we think is let's give those controls to merchants so that they can make those informed decisions so that they can manage their revenue so that they can manage their margins. Um, you know, I got an email from honey the other day, um, because they have my email address and they said in their marketing Roundup of this email, that honey users in 2020 saved a total of $1.6 billion, $1.6 billion.

And so. I think in a perfect world, if everything were incremental, we would all be celebrating that if you were able to drive incremental sales, that that creates, uh, you know, 1.6 billion savings, then I'm sure there's something to spike the ball over. Um, unfortunately I don't think this is incremental. I think what's happening is, is it's deteriorating shopping carts.

Uh, it's creating new expenses for merchants and affiliate fees that they didn't think they would have to be paying. Um, and it's just creating havoc in, you know, your marketing KPIs and your data help drive great market decisions.

Joseph: [00:19:35] So, one thing I'm wondering about, um, using my own story as an example, I, what I wanted to do was not having sent any product to anybody I give. My God. I just realized how much trouble it could be in. Okay. So I gave a coupon code to a friend, but it was a hundred percent off. I said, look, you're not actually paying anything.

I'll just. Take the loss on it. What I need is for you to test it and maybe put a review in afterwards. So the reason why I realized I'm in trouble right now is that Hanukkah grabbed that coupon and suddenly give it to like a, um, you know, hundreds of people all for a hundred percent off. So I might want to do something about that, but here's the thing, here's the precaution that I took that I'm wondering if, um, these promo card companies have actually managed to supersede, which is you're supposed to be able to put a limitation on how many times a coupon can be used.

So when I created that coupon on Shopify and it might change reply from the platform, but I would assume that most platforms would recognize the logic here is it should have limited uses. It should only be used once, maybe twice. And so. Is it possible that these promote, uh, uh, extensions can actually override that limitation and to the point where it can be used as much as possible? 

Matt Gillis: [00:20:48] No, I don't, I don't think that's the problem.

I think th th listen, the real problem is, is that they're creating a database of all known coupons. Right. And so, um, I don't think they're going to override any controls that you've put in place, whether it's a single use or whatnot, where it gets dangerous is I think when marketers look as one to many, right.

And so if you're using a channel like a YouTuber. Right. It's hard to have a one-to-one one use promo code when you're trying to do something for a huge audience. So youtubers, social media influencers, um, you know, uh, anywhere in which you are, uh, trying to get that message out with a single code to create action from a wide audience.

And so that's, I think where the problem truly exists. Um, you know, it's funny you bring up the a hundred percent off, uh, issue with your own site. Crazy part is, is, and we just wrote a blog post on it. So if you want to read about it, it's at, uh, you know, clean.io is our website. Um, last weekend I was looking to update my wardrobe and I went to a very well-known, uh, men's clothing website that probably would be in your Facebook feed, uh, all the time.

Right. That's where I found them. Um, and they had a promo code that wiki buy injected, um, that was $75 off. So it was a flat discount, $75. Not a hundred percent, but the reality is, is I went into the sale merchandise and I found things that were under $75 and I effectively got clothing for free. Now we all know that's nothing to be celebrated.

And obviously I like returned the clothes and, but I wanted to see, could this truly work? What is this a problem that is actually happening with, I thought, somehow I'm going to get to check out and it's going to go, Oh, you know, like we didn't mean that $75 off to take a hundred percent off your order.

Basically I got a shirt and a mask and, uh, it was under $75 and I had to pay $10 shipping. That's basically what, what happened. And, um, so that that's where like it's not necessarily, um, you know, a percentage discount, always. Sometimes it's a dollar value. Um, and again, I think that can be completely disrupt disruptive to revenue.

One of the challenges I think for merchants is that we have seen 10 years of growth in e-commerce in the last 12 months. Right. So like you've seen, e-commerce just press the gas. Right. And I've had countless merchants tell me our sales were up 500% year over year. Like, they've just like everyone is swimming in money.

And so when you're swimming in money, what, you've got a, a percentage of your customers that are coming in and getting stuff for free because they're exploiting discount extensions, you know, like it's, it's probably hard to notice some of these things. I actually reached out to the merchant and I said, Hey, listen, here's the deal.

Here's my blog post. You should read it by the way. We've obviously obfuscated your name from the blog. I'm not going to like, I don't believe in naming and shaming, I believe in actually protecting you. And you should get rid of this promo code immediately. Cause I'm sure it's costing you a boatload. Um, and uh, they never replied, but guess what?

Promo code stopped working. Uh, so I'm like, I'm glad they listened. Um, but I think it's, you know, it's, it's one of those big problems and I don't want people to be embarrassed by the problem. I want to help them solve it. So I think it's, uh, you know, it's, it's definitely crazy times. And, and the, the varying degrees of use cases, they all result in the same end problem, but there's a whole bunch of different ways that, that it's kind of they're being exploited.

Joseph: [00:24:13] And so, uh, he hears a story that this is the one I wanted to tell you that, uh, I had mentioned before we were recording that I was excited to tell you, because like, I've been going through my own moral dilemma here, just like, um, in, in the, in the physical coil. And I wanted to hear your take on it. So I live in an apartment and, you know, there's.

In, in apartments, all the mailboxes are all arranged together in a row. And these, these days you have to be careful not to like trip over a parcel because all the couriers are just like putting the parcels on the ground. Uh, so I picked up all the parts parcel, took them to my room. Kidding. Obviously that's not the key, obviously.

So I opened up my mailbox and there's a, a subway coupons. Um, the, the sandwich restaurant for those of you unaware, and some of the coupons are like, I don't know, buy a particular one for cheaper. Uh, but like the creme de LA creme are the ones where you get like one sandwich for 99 cents. If you buy another one and a drink.

So those, those are like the triple S tier coupons out of the, out of it. Those are the that's the main event. So I excitedly go to the subway the next day, I get to two sandwiches for the price of one. I'm not gonna to, I felt a little bit because they know that they can't make money off of it, but. Man.

They, they, they sent it out, uh, which actually leads me to like my first, uh, moral dilemma. And, but I'm not going to stop there. I'm just going to like, get through the rest of the story, which is like, if the franchisee is sending the coupons, uh, cause if, if the corporation is sending the coupons and what's happening, is it like the franchisee is going to lose a lot of money for something they have no control over, which is parallel to the idea of like our businesses online are getting coupons for stuff that we have no control over.

We don't want that. Um, so I come back into the mailbox a couple of days later and I, and I noticed in the recycling, everybody else had thrown their coupons in the, in the recycling bin. So what do I do? I take every last one of the subway coupons. I have a stack of them in my, in my cupboard right now I have 99 cents of ways, uh, all the way through until April when they all expire.

So. I, I go to, I go to the, the, the, the person says, look, I got a bunch of these, but I got to tell you, I feel bad about using this. And she says, Oh, don't worry. It's okay. I'm like, all right, fine. I'll have a veggie delight. So I specifically buy like the cheaper one of the sandwiches. I just put me on cold cuts in, at home.

The reason why I'm bringing this up, because I think it's speaking to being an ethical consumer is that we want to value. We want value. We want to save, but we also want to know that we're doing the right thing, because I don't want to like, feel like I'm actually draining their money because in the long run, the best the place goes out of business and then they can't have sandwiches at all.

So, uh, what's your take on this? What, what's the right thing to do? Should I throw the rest of the coupons out? Uh, who's who's at the most fault here? 

Matt Gillis: [00:26:49] I actually think, uh, you know, if you think through the use case, if I were the marketer, I would say success because they drove you to go and eat there. 

Joseph: [00:26:59] Yep.

Matt Gillis: [00:26:59] So the original campaign of getting that coupon into your mailbox and you saying, I have to eat three meals a day and I'm going to make a choice because they put the right offer in front of me that I am actually going to subway to eat. So I think like that one. Perfect. And I think that was the intent of the coupon and that was the intent of the franchise and the like the franchise and, you know, headquarters.

Um, it goes sideways for me at your second example, which is that you then went and five fingered, a whole bunch of them. And you're like, Hey, I could eat, you know, two for one for the next four months because that's not the intent. Um, also not the intent would be is that if you walk into that subway and there was some guy in a trench coat standing beside the cash register, and he said to you, Hey Joseph, listen, if you really want, I can give you this and you can go and order two sandwiches for the price of one right now.

And of course you'd be like, you know, intrigued, but the reality is, is you would also feel like that's not right. Like, and if the franchise owner saw this guy standing here doling out coupons, and it was going to cut half of their revenue that day, they probably wouldn't feel good about it either. That's what's happening with honey, right?

So honey is standing at the front cash register of the merchant. You've ordered your sandwiches and you've walked up to pay and honey is standing there saying, ah, hold on one second. Don't pay yet. Let me see if I can get you a discount. And not only that, if I can get you a discount or even if I can't get your discount, I am going to get paid by this merchant because I drove you to this store when we all know that that was not the case.

So, you know, I think the moral dilemma, I think you're right. And you know, I, I just, uh, It, it feels like if marketing drives you to the site to buy something great. Um, but if you're already there, um, you know, some merchants are actually giving, you know, like, Hey, if you give me your email on your first order, you'll get 10% off.

Great. That's a trade for something, right? Like they're saying, give me your email so I can market to you later. And, uh, I'll give you 10% off. Awesome. Um, but I think what you're talking about is like, it goes that extra mile and that's just where it all feels a little dirty to me. 

Joseph: [00:29:14] Yeah. I mean, from a, from a cost benefit analysis, there's two points here that are in conflict with one another.

The first is that they assume that if they're mailing went out to each individual person, then that's as many losses as they're willing to take because at 99 cents, subway is non-profitable. But that conflicted, that is the fact that most of them ended up in the trash. So I assume that they're looking at the data and they're thinking, well, we hand out this many coupons, but frankly we know not that many people are going to take it.

It's just it's it's it goes back to like the first time people send junk mail out, they send out a thousand, they expect maybe one or two returns. So. I, I, the, I don't think they expected that many coupons to actually be used. And for the record, I've only used like five so far, because again, I, I started feeling like way too bad about it and I had to stop myself.

Matt Gillis: [00:30:05] Well, I think the intent is that they're going to drive five unique new people through the door of that restaurant. 

Joseph: [00:30:11] Right? Yeah. New customers, unique tastes different routines. Yeah.

Matt Gillis: [00:30:15] It's where you get into the marketing attribution challenge. Right? Because from an attribution perspective, if they're trying to see how successful that campaign was, if it was one guy that bought a thousand sandwiches, that's not great.

But if a thousand people bought one sandwich and they brought a thousand new people through the front door, that's the intent of the marketing. So that's where I think, you know, you get through these exactly, um, attributes and that this is the thing that honey's doing, right. Where, you know, we had one merchant who is, uh, they, they sell vitamins online.

They partnered with a triathlete and this triathlete is like apparently globally known and has, you know, tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. And they, uh, the, the, the triathletes started writing blog posts and content about like, here's the supplements I use and here's my code and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Well, Hey, guess what? Uh, after one person legitimately use that code one person, right? Because that's all that has to happen is one legitimate sale with that person that has honey on their machine, honey, scrapes that code out, and then everybody's getting it. And so this merchant, um, saw their sales skyrocket.

Um, they were all high-fiving each other, they all were like, this is amazing. We have unlocked content and influencers. We now know exactly how to drive sales through this. Uh, God, I, you know, I knew this guy was going to be good because he has great content. It was honey. So, you know, it's just, uh, It's creating a massive challenge for merchants and, you know, and again, they just don't have the tools or the know-how to be able to do it.

And we think that you've got to solve this with technology, not with arms and legs and duct tape and bubblegum. 

Joseph: [00:31:51] This is one that I, that I was wondering about being a, B being a pretty far reaching e-commerce podcast is I can't rule out the possibility that we might end up talking to honey or one of the other Chrome extension, uh, platforms.

If you had actually got to speak with them, what would you want them to change about their business or how, like, how would you arrange it so that they're doing what the intent was, the positive side of it without having to have all those other issues going on? 

Matt Gillis: [00:32:19] Yeah. I mean, I'm not sure if they're capable.

Um, you know, to me, if I am a merchant and I own a storefront, uh, I'd be excited to drive incremental sales. Right. I would be looking for vehicles that can help drive net new incremental sales. I don't want to cannibalize sales that were already going to happen. Anyway. I don't want to pay commissions on sales that were already going to happen.

Um, the person's all the way down the sales funnel right there, like literally at checkout. Um, and so yet I think what, what these things do is they, uh, Pat themselves on the back for saying that like, Hey, we have a high conversion rate. We help drive conversion rate. The reality is, is the guy was going to buy anyway, but the gal was going to hit buy anyway.

So, you know, it just, it, it feels to me like they're hiding behind the data. They're hiding behind details. Um, that if I were a merchant and I were driving sales, um, you know, I'd want explanations on. And I think to me, for merchants, like, it's so easy to see in your data that you probably don't have time to go and look at every day, but usually there's one code that will run away.

That's what's tends to happen. We had one merchant, they were, um, A sponsor of an NBA team. Uh, the NBA team was the Orlando magic and, um, I went to their website and I was able to save 30% off by typing in the code magic at checkout. And, uh, so I talked to the head of marketing and we were just, you know, spitballing around why this is a problem and whatnot.

And so, um, I asked her like, fill me in on magic. What is, what's so interesting about this while she told me, Hey, NBA sponsor of the Orlando magic, we have one opportunity, every single Orlando magic broadcast, where in the crawl in like, so like the mice type at the bottom of the screen, it says, Hey, go to our website and use the code magic and save 30%.

That's the only place that, that exists. Well, this person told me that, uh, their site does about a million and a half in revenue a month. Uh, and every month, uh, this promo code was costing them on average of $150,000. And so, you know, to me, I asked this woman like, so like, do you really think that that little crawl at the bottom of the screen was driving that many incremental sales, like, and they truly, but like they thought the CA I guess the sponsorship is successful.

Um, well, uh, what they did was they actually blocked that coupon. And, uh, the next day, the next two biggest coupons that were used, uh, were to 25% off coupons that kind of flipped and flopped. And they kind of like skyrocketed to take the place of that one standalone runaway hit coupon. Again, this is like extensions and automation, these on these aren't real consumers putting these codes in.

So I just think that folks have got to look at their data a little bit more, get really in tune with what's happening, um, download these extensions onto their PC. So they really understand what the user behavior is when they're on your website, so that you actually can walk a mile in your user's shoes.

And, um, you know, and, and I would say test like AB test, like. No shut things off, turn them on. See what happens. It's probably a little bit of a whack-a-mole problem that you might. 

Joseph: [00:35:30] Yeah. And I also think it also speaks to what value that they should offer on the coupons in the first place. Because I imagine that if I'm, let's just say I put out a coupon for like a 3% off, 5% off, so small that the margins are still profitable, but I don't display it almost like I'm expecting to bait honey into it and in order to find these.

So I do think that does also speak to POS positive, possibly like being a little bit smarter about what offers or what discounts you would actually give to the customers. 

Matt Gillis: [00:35:58] Oh yeah. I mean, I think being smart about that, having a strategy, um, time, you know, time limiting them. Um, but again, I think a lot of the challenges like for the folks that I think are having the biggest challenges, they're the folks that are thinking big, right.

And they're thinking, how could I get, you know, this influencer who has 5 million fans? Like how do I reach and engage with those users with my brand. So everyone has the right intentions. Everybody wants to try and figure out how to drive new sales and how to drive new people to your website. And don't really think about the consequences of what happens, because you want to assume that positive intent assume everyone's got good intentions here.

Um, that, that, that code will leak and that will become a runaway, um, you know, revenue suck for you, right? It'll just take 20 or 30 or whatever that percentage is off of your revenue without you blinking.

Joseph: [00:36:51] Here's one of the things that I love asking whenever I get to, um, talk to say like a service we're an agency. I don't know if the agency is like the most operative term for you, but the point is, is that whenever we're dealing with an organization that works with other businesses, what I learned, uh, earlier on through the show is that one of the key advantages that you have when you're working with other businesses is that you get to accumulate data data from all over versus let's just say one of these businesses hires an in-house.

Security person, you don't quite get the same level of, um, uh, peace of mind that they're doing everything that they can because at the bottom falls out, then the whole company falls out. Whereas the pressure is on an agency or a service such as yourself to deliver because it, without that, then, then the whole thing does fall out.

Can you, uh, expand on maybe some insights or some accumulated data that you have found in aggregate that you've been able to share with, uh, businesses in specific? 

Matt Gillis: [00:37:44] Yeah listen, we're a software business. Right. And generally speaking, software businesses that are in the same position as us, um, we, uh, experienced network effects.

Right. And so, um, you know, when you think about our. Uh, malware prevention business on the ad side. Um, obviously the bigger lens that we have, the more traffic we're able to see, the more threats we're able to see. Uh, you know, when we reverse engineer threats, we're able to understand more broadly how these bad actors are operating.

And so you want to have the biggest surface area that you can, uh, to be able to build the most ironclad. Uh, service for us in the cybersecurity world. Um, I think the same is true on the e-commerce side. Right? And so, um, what's my goal. My goal is to be on every e-commerce website. My goal is to protect e-commerce websites, not just from honey or not just from Wiki buy, but from honey and wikibuy and Rakuten and retail me not and Cooper.

And we thrift. And like you name all of these discount extensions because the wider lens that we have, the more surface area that we have, I think the better equipped that we will be to go out and solve this problem. And you made a great point there. Sometimes folks have said, listen, how much do you think this will cost?

And let's just say, there's someone who does, you know, a hundred million dollars in revenue a year or $250 million in revenue a year. Um, and we said, Hey, listen, it's going to cost X. And maybe they say, well, you know what? I could probably go hire an engineer that could probably do this work. Um, And I think the reality is is yes, you probably could to, to start, but the problem is always evolving.

The problem is never solved. And I think that's the unique thing in the business that we live. And that's why we're a SAS business is that the software has to always be iterating. The protections always have to be iterating because the bad actors, when I say bad actors in the malvertising space, I mean like probably some kids who are living in their parents' basement, you know, distributing that ads.

That's the bad actors. They're the bad actors in this business that we're talking about on the e-commerce side are unfortunately mega mega companies, PayPal, right? So honey was bought by PayPal for $4.5 billion. Wiki was bought by capital one, which is a big bank, by the way, these folks are doing national television commercials like on, uh, all through college basketball or, you know, all through the Christmas season, um, Wiki buy, which is now called capital one shopping.

They had Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta doing national TV commercials for this thing. Um, so I think, you know, the stakes are high, but for us, you know, having the biggest surface area is the most important thing for us. Uh, being able to, uh, you know, experience and take advantage of those network effects, I think will make our service even better and stronger.

Um, and more repeatable for our customers. 

Joseph: [00:40:35] There's a couple of things that have unraveled for me. Um, one of them is, uh, it didn't one. The only one that I really knew of was honey. I didn't hear about these other ones. I heard a racket tin, but I thought Rakuten was just like an Asian supermarket. I'd actually realized, uh, it was also this, uh, I had never heard of Wiki by and, um, the other ones they've already had dissipated for my short term memory.

Um, maybe for the best, maybe not versus you have well, Samuel L. Jackson, you have super bowl commercials. You have this huge influential campaign to get people to do something that. Well, I mean, it's hard to resist, right? Cause you're, it's, you're saving money. You're, it's free money versus as influential as you guys are.

And by the way, I'm really impressed with just the breadth of how many companies that you're working with. Um, but it still seems like an uphill battle. So is there any strategy to, uh, create more of a mainstream understanding of what it is that people are doing so that people like me who don't want to see their local sub go out of business, uh, can actually start making the right informed choices?

Matt Gillis: [00:41:42] Listen, I think, um, what we've been through in the last year has actually opened people's eyes to the fact that we need to create sustainable economies, sustainable businesses. Um, and, and, you know, I would think that if I'd asked you a year ago prior to COVID about your subway example, uh, you probably wouldn't have thought twice about it.

Um, and I think now actually you're like, yeah, I really want to make sure that like, To be able to walk to that subway. That's near my apartment, that it's still going to be there. Uh, when the dust settles, um, you know, we're in this kind of a, you know, we're, we're building this business, um, you know, we've got 35 merchants now using our software, um, that are excited about what we're doing that are excited to have the controls back to their businesses that they just have long deserved.

Um, and, and I think what's unique about our business is, you know, obviously, uh, PayPal and, uh, you know, and capital one have, you know, we have, they have budgets that we'll never see as a small startup, but we're nimble, right. And we can build in the dark and we can move fast. And I think that's our advantage.

Um, ultimately we want to be able to, um, build a service and a product that merchants are so excited about that they're gonna tell their friends, and that's what we're experiencing right now. We haven't done any marketing for this thing. Um, and we've already got a boatload of inbound and we've got folks very excited about it.

I think compounding this is. Honey and wiki buy because they are so, uh, you know, on the mainstream media pounding their chest, that they're aligning themselves with the consumers. Um, they're actually, um, you know, anti merchant almost, and to folks that you would think that should not be anti merchant or PayPal and capital one.

Right? I mean, I, I would hope that they would be aligned with merchants, but they're not what we're seeing and hearing from merchants is that it's a very adversarial relationship. And, and so I, I think we're in the early innings of this battle and just like in our malvertising business, it is a long game, right?

You have to be ready for the long game, cause it's going to be a tug of war and it's going to push and pull and it's going to be whack-a-mole, you know, as a cybersecurity company, you know, we fight that actors. And in this case, we're talking about the bad actors that we identified earlier. Guess what?

They're going to try and get around us. They're going to try and break through. They're going to try and get through our defenses. And so I think it's going to be a, you know, a long game and we're just in the earliest days, and I'm excited to see how it all plays out. One thing that I want to say in support of this too, is that it's not a tug of war.

Joseph: [00:44:09] This is a huge learning experience. Even for me now that I learned this and now that I understand it, I will actually get rid of my honey browser, frankly, because now I, I don't, I don't trust it. And for the most part, I think most sellers being in control of their business, they put out their own coupons anyways.

So they want me to save it's their responsibility. Um, and I'm also gonna toss out all, but one of my subway coupons, I'm going to keep one stack cause I'm hungry. Now that you've had the ability to tell me, and I can disseminate that message, the work there is done, at least for me. So they can have as many Superbowl ads as they want.

It's not gonna change my mind until, um, you know, you come back to me and you say, we've actually managed to figure out how these companies can operate in a way that's completely ethical and. You know, our, our work here is done. Um, is that gonna happen? I don't know. I can't see that far in, down the line, but when, when you're saying it's that you're nimble because the cause is righteous.

Every, every brick in the building matters, every corner battle matters. And every, every, when it can actually be very significant because then it spreads out and it disseminates into a larger audience, like what we've done today. 

Matt Gillis: [00:45:16] You know, the parallel from my business can be drawn in, in every business.

And the, I even think about, uh, you know,  Debutify, like, just imagine that that somewhere on the internet, someone was allowed to actually just change the themes of the website without their permission, that would like we wouldn't stand for that. Right. If someone had arbitrary the arbitrarily, the ability to go and change the look and the feel and the layout of the website, and, you know, either increase conversion rate or decrease conversion rate, it doesn't matter.

Like someone having those controls, other than the person that owns the website feels unnatural to me. And that's, I think the, you know, the, the main cause that we're championing, which is let's give control back to the people who own the website, let's let them decide who should be able to get a discount.

Let's not let some arbitrary third-party JavaScript engine that is stuck on someone's computer, uh, start to control a website that they don't own. So that's, I think the, at the core of what we're fighting here and, uh, you know, we want merchants to be profitable. We want them to be sustainable. Um, no, I think what Shopify has done for the e-commerce ecosystem, it's incredible.

Let's keep that, uh, rolling. Um, you know, I think they talk about, um, you know, don't, uh, empower the empire, empower the rebels, and that's what we're trying to do. Probably similar to you guys as well, which is like, let's give the tools to the rebels so that the rebels can be successful. 

Joseph: [00:46:43] I love a good star Wars reference.

Matt Gillis: [00:46:44] There you go. It's a trap. 

Joseph: [00:46:46] I was thinking, I was just like, as a troll, it says, what's your favorite quote, cable detached, which was like one of those like random throw throwaway lines from the battles. 

Matt Gillis: [00:46:53] Awesome. 

Joseph: [00:46:54] Here's a quick story. I'll tell you because I've been. Well, I haven't been successful in like my, my web comic.

I just more like I have it out there cause I'd like to show my writing abilities is it's there, it's a hobby. I enjoy life's work. And I've been hosting it on GoDaddy for, for a good long while. And for the first few years I assumed that GoDaddy just kind of like took care of security. And then we have our, like, I dunno, like BI annual phone call, uh, where they'll just call me at whatever random time they feel like.

And if I still happen to be on the, uh, be near the phone at the time, then we have our phone call. I just got to respect that it's very old school. It's like, ah, we get you out of a bad time there fella. I'm like, I actually, I respect it. I don't want him to stop, but they actually told me that no longer I'd have to start paying for security because well, the times have changed.

You know, security is a bigger issue of the, Internet's becoming more of an important utility, which opens it opens itself up to more threats. And my decision was all right. Look, I'm not even making any money off of this. Uh, I it's like, it's not a business. I just have some web comics. I can wholesale them on injure.

So. I'm a, let it go. What I'm wondering is our stores or businesses, is there like a revenue point where they have to take this seriously? Or is it no store too small to be attacked? Is it that the smaller they are, the more of a threat they are because the margins are so important. So, uh, you know, when do people really need to take this seriously?

Matt Gillis: [00:48:15] One of the things that you need to do is you need to look at where these extensions operate. So honey will say, I think that they've got, you know, 17 or 20 million users, right? So that's how many people have this extension on their machine. Um, but they'll say that it, that it works on 40,000 websites. So we, we all know that there are lots more e-commerce websites than 40,000.

Right. And so my gut says, and I don't have proof on this, but I would say like, there's probably a line drawn in the sand as to like, if you're a merchant doing. I don't know, 50,000 a month, maybe more than that. Like maybe somehow honey is like, you know, looking at those sites. Cause I think it's probably more of what I would call like the body and the head of the ecosystem as opposed to the body and the tail.

Um, you know, and, and by the way I shop at mainly body and head merchants. And that's usually where I see it working. If you go to a super long tail e-commerce site it's I don't think that that's probably where they're focused. Um, quite frankly, because they need to get into the economic model as well. So my gut says a lot of these longer tail e-commerce sites are probably not working with affiliates are probably not, you know, doing a lot of social media influencer type promo code.

They're not going hog-wild on that front. So I think that's generally where the problem exists. Um, so yeah, I mean, and again, I would just say like, If you're, if you're an e-commerce merchant, um, and you want to understand, you know, the intimacies of how these things work, you should download these extensions so that you can see them operate on other sites, but also see them operate on your own site.

If they're operating on your own site, if you, if you go to a site in, in, and you pin the extension into the, you know, the masthead of the browser, it will light up and tell you that it works on that website. So there's indicators that these things will give you to tell you where it works.

Joseph: [00:50:01] Hmm. Okay. Uh, that checks out.

So Matt, we don't have a, what have you for too much, for too much longer. Um, so I did want to just ask you something else about malvertising cause this one was kind of like sticking out of my brain. What I'm wondering about is how effective malvertising really is. And I want to draw a parallel here, actually.

Funny enough, I had told the same story, the previous recording, cause it's well, it's about my gloves and they're in my peripheral vision. So I guess, you know, they, they take on my attention initially I bought these things off of website called when compress paid like 20 bucks for it. I was happy to do it.

And then, uh, I learned from another drop-shipper that these things actually are an alley express. So go, now they express, I find them for like three bucks, I ordered $20 worth. So, and I've got like six of these on the, on the way over. And uh, I'm, I'm, I'm set that's because being in the e-commerce space, I've had the ability to be more intuitive and to understand more about how this works. Um, so, you know, , for me, uh, I don't feel, I don't feel so bad about, about this one. Uh, I, you know, I gave one compress their, their business because they market it to me, but I also, uh, uh, see the value here. So I feel like I've supported them, supported myself.

So that's all well, and good. However, if you, if you think about people who can be, um, aren't beyond the veil, it's a bigger audience. And the further back you go, the bigger the audiences, because there's the ratio of people who know better to people who don't tends to favor the people who don't. So who is, malvertising actually like working on and can you see from the user end that they are clicking on something or they have like, they've accidentally clicked on it because they tapped the wrong part of their, their tablet.

And then what is the, uh, the, the fallout of, uh, the, of this mistake. 

Matt Gillis: [00:51:42] So think of a malvertiser as I would call them the most sophisticated media buyer on the planet. They are folks who understand that they can buy a 20 cent ad, uh, that if, uh, they buy that ad and they render their code on that website, that they can redirect that user 100% of the time to land on a page where they want them to land.

Think about the normal advertiser is buying an ad, and they're hoping that they get, you know, a half of a percent click through rate. You know, the malvertising is know how to get a hundred percent click through rate, um, to use your glove example, think of the malvertising as an arbitrager. So the malvertiser has figured out how to get a hundred percent, uh, you know, a click through rate.

And now that they've got that user, you know, they have, they own the screen, right? So they've got a hundred percent take over the screen. Um, they can repurpose. Offers bounties, you know, a variety of things to get the user to engage. One of the most notorious ones is, you know, spin the wheel or, you know, click here to win an Amazon gift card or take, you know, Hey Mr. Verizon user, because they've targeted you. They know that you're a Verizon customer. Uh, Hey, Mr. Verizon user take this survey and you'll have a chance to win something. And somewhere, somehow Verizon is asking, uh, some agency to get end user survey completions. And in order for them to pay for them, they need to be a survey completion with an email address.

Well, guess what? These guys have figured out how to drive that behavior, how to get the survey completion and how to get an email address. Now you imagine they're buying these ads for 20 cents and they're getting a thousand people for that 20 cents to land on that page. You know, you and I probably aren't going to take the survey, but my mom probably will.

You know, they're like an, all they need is one. So if they've bought it for 20 cents and they can, like, they get one, maybe they make five bucks. Maybe they make 10 bucks back to your analogy with your gloves. You bought that one pair for 20 bucks. You found a way to buy six pair at three bucks each. Well, heck you know what you did, you actually felt like if you could actually resell those at $18 or $16, and you knew how to drive the traffic to get, be like, you have created your own arbitrage opportunity for those gloves, Bravo to you.

That's, to me, that's like the free, you know, free market and that's why, what we love, but, um, you know, malvertising is, are using technology for bad purposes and that's, you know, but it's an arbitrage. 

Joseph: [00:54:17] So yeah, I, I get that. There's. Uh, there, there there's nothing that they're doing to like actually provide value, uh, to anything.

They're definitely not getting people do. Amazon gift cards are definitely not giving people a discount codes or anything like that. 

Matt Gillis: [00:54:31] Well, somehow somewhere there's a sweepstakes where somebody wins something. I mean, otherwise it'd be all illegal, but I think they probably do some things, you know, around the, you know, w you know, whatever you want to call it, like contest or lottery or whatever the, the, the rules are that they're following there.

But, you know, there's nothing incremental. It's actually just, it destroys the user experience. Um, it destroys revenue for the publishers where that happens. And for you as the end-user, you're just like, nah, I don't, why would I want to go to this site if I had a bad experience? So it actually drives you away.

So it's, it's really detrimental. 

Joseph: [00:55:02] Uh, one more question for you and this one has come up organically just throughout this conversation. So I remember when I was, uh, when I was a wheel ass and, uh, we would install, you know, Vito games on our computer via CD drive. Right? Some of these CDs, they would come in like six packs.

We had to put all six CDs and to install the data. And there was this, uh, I guess at the time it would be in like an urban myth where we were my brother and I, we were afraid that if we took a disc from somebody else and we put that disc into our computer, we would end up with a virus. And we were fearful of these kinds of things and that minimized what we would do and fast forward 20, 25 years.

And I'm certainly not as fearful, uh, browsing the internet. And the reason why I'm not as fearful is because, well, there are. Security companies. I've got, I got, um, a virus protection. Um, there there's a, there's what you guys do. And with that, and I think what that does is it does actually free up, uh, consumer behavior where now they're maybe a little bit more keen on maybe doing something that maybe they wouldn't trust and it's all relative, you know, like some people who are afraid to use their credit card online at all anywhere.

Um, and you have some people who maybe are like, want to buy a product off of like, um, Alec express. For some people, they might feel like that's going too far, or they start going to websites that are like completely in Japanese. And they feel like, okay, maybe I'm going too far. So what I'm wondering is really, have you seen any like mass change in consumer behavior relative to the safety measures in place?

Because you know, the bad actors are always going to be there, but the security wasn't. 

Matt Gillis: [00:56:38] Yeah you know the the, one of the things that we are proud of is that when folks put our software on their sites, the problems tend to go away. One of the biggest things that we did in malvertising is that we actually made it so that the bad actors, um, they pay for the ads, but they don't get the engagement.

So it doesn't land on that page. It almost creates that perfect trap for them to not, you know, get ROI on what they're doing. And so one of the behaviors that we see over time is that when someone first starts using our software there, it's obviously a lot of activity usually. And obviously they've come to us for a reason because they either had users complaining or they noticed in their own KPIs that their site was not performing the way they thought it should.

Um, and then over time, the bad actors somewhat go away now they never truly go away. Right. And so the, the, the analogy I'll use is just because you put up cameras at your house doesn't mean that you'll never get robbed. But it means that I think folks will think twice before breaking into your house.

And that's the same thing that happens with our software is that, um, I think folks don't get the ROI that they hope they're going to get. Um, but what they'll always do is they'll always like probe and try and maybe walk past your house and turn the door knob and see if the lock opens. You know what I mean?

Like, so, so that's the thing. I, I think we've seen a lot of improved behavior, um, folks that have taken our software, um, and same sort of thing I think on, on these extensions is that if they, if they don't work as intended, um, my gut says these folks will stop trying. So. Hopefully that's the case. 

Joseph: [00:58:17] Well, it's a, if so all of us to, to spread knowledge, to make our own informed decisions and  to use an analogy, you know, in elementary school, when kids think of like what the custodian does, they would, some teachers would say that the custodian's job is to clean up the dirt that you bring in because you were outside not to like pick up your chip bag that you were too lazy to throw out yourselves.

So we do have to understand that, like we have our own responsibilities to, uh, to, to be our own protectors as well, but know that for the stuff that we can handle, that we do have people having our back. 

Matt Gillis: [00:58:50] Yup. No, I agree with you. I like your custodian analysis. 

Joseph: [00:58:53] Yeah. Feel free to use it. Wasn't mine anyways, to begin with.

So, all right, Matt, uh, that is, uh, all we're going, gonna do for today. Uh, this has been fantastic. Definitely very eye opening for me. So our wrap up question is, uh, is our tradition. It is, if you have any like words of wisdom, anything you'd like to impart on people at the end of an interview is, uh, one such as this and answer to a question maybe I forgot to ask, uh, and this is your chance to do it.

And then that people know how to get in touch and view what it is that you have to offer. 

Matt Gillis: [00:59:24] Small piece of wisdom, I would say is obviously folks, if you're listening and you're working at a startup, startups are super hard. Um, you know, and like you said, we're battling the behemoths of the world, uh, you know, with PayPal and capital one and those kind of guys, um, I think the secret for us is just focus.

You know, it's, uh, you know, I, I posted a picture on LinkedIn the other week of, of, of a picture that's in my daughter's room that says, uh, she's 14 years old and it says you can do anything, but you can't do everything. And so what we've really tried to do is focus on who we're solving the problem for on what the, you know, what they really need to go out and solve.

So I think that's been a secret of our success and we've now done it a few times in a few different adjacencies. Um, if you're interested in more about what we're doing, uh, you can reach out to me, Matt, matt@clean.io. You can find our website, obviously clean.io connect with me on LinkedIn. Um, And we're just, we're curious about what your challenges are and if you've got challenges that are outside of, you know, the scope of what we're currently focused on, um, we'd love more Intel, more insight.

I think everybody's use cases are slightly different, but the more data that we have, the more we'll be able to kind of take, as we talked about these network effects of having all these different sites and take it all together and find those common themes of how we solve these problems. So I want to thank you for having me.

We're, we're excited to have been here and been able to spend almost an hour together. It feels like, but, uh, you know, good to connect with a fellow Canadian and, uh, wish everybody the best. 

Joseph: [01:00:50] Fantastic. Well, not just a Canadian, but a Torontonian. Uh, there was a distinction, it goes in our call, but it's all right.

I also like that you use the word Intel. I just found, I find, I haven't heard that word in a while. I find that pleasing. Alright, listeners y'all know what to do, and thank you as always for your engagement. So take care and we will check it soon. 

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