EFP 164: How Monetize More Bounced Back from Losing $2.2M

Justin Cooke

December 2, 2016

Losing your AdSense account is bad enough, but losing your account AND the $2.2M you had in the account is probably the worst we’ve ever heard.

We originally sat down with Kean from Monetize More simply because we thought they had an interesting business model that’s valuable to our listeners. They’re looking for high-traffic sites they can help optimize and take a cut of the profits from the improvements only…interesting, right?

As we dug in a bit further we heard about the $2.2M hit…damn.

In this episode we’ll run through the business model, dig into the lost account, and look at how their company bounced back from the massive hit. We’ll also get some feedback on where they see the industry heading.

If you love tragic episodes, I think you’ll dig this show! Their bounce back is a nice touch too. :-)

Check Out This Week’s Episode:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week:

  • Background: How Kean Graham began his entrepreneurial journey
  • Launch: Getting Monetize More launched
  • Disaster: How they lost $2.2M when their account was shut down
  • Growth: Where they’re at today and where they’re going next


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Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire Podcast, episode 164. Having your AdSense account banned is a frightening thought. But what do you do when your account is banned with $2.2 million locked up with no way to get the money out? That’s the exact scenario today’s guest, Kean Graham from MonetizeMore found himself in, in just a while ago.

                                In today’s episode we’ll take a closer look at the companies MonetizeMore, the account ban, and the steps they took to recover their business from the terrifying loss. You can find the show notes and all links discussed on this episode at empireflipper.com/monetizemore. All right let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advise from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone.

                                From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors, who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubical. Check out the Empire Podcast. Now your host Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   All right Joe losing $35,000 on our Amazon affiliate account made us throw up in our mouths a little bit. Can you imagine if it was $2.2 million?

Joe:                        Yeah I definitely would be calling the lawyers that’s a bit ridiculous.

Justin:                   It’s an outrageous amount of money. It just kind of brings back … I mean the whole time during this interview, I’m cringing a little bit. I’m wanting to punch my microphone, I’m just so frustrated knowing that these kind of large companies are able to take your money and say sorry that’s it.

                                You have companies that do this, Google with their AdSense program does this, Amazon with their Amazon affiliate with the FBA businesses do this. They kind of hold the power because they’re huge. They’re these very large organizations that are dealing with typically much smaller publishers.

                                They give them terms that are super favorable to the large companies. So you’re basically signing your life away if you want to do business on the AdSense platform or the Amazon affiliate platform right?

Joe:                        Yeah and the other thing is you know 2.2 million I can only imagine the lost opportunity after this happened. Because the month after or in the month after that they weren’t able to earn any money on AdSense they probably had to find another way to monetize the sites. That was probably much lower than what AdSense was willing to give them. There’s also a lot of lost opportunity and revenue there as well.

Justin:                   It feels a little bit to me like the lack of unions, the lack of you know the publishers kind of banding together is helping to cause this problem. So back in the day that’s one of the reasons that unions were formed, so they could protect the little guys, the publishers against kind of the larger corporations taking advantage.

                                Just surprised that nothing like that’s happened in this industry, that you haven’t seen a lot of, or at least they’re suppressed or something the kind of class actions that would go after Google, that would go after Amazon for holding and keeping this money.

                                Because technically they’re taking money, in the case of AdSense and Amazon affiliates, they’re taking money that they received and made money on that said oh that wasn’t allowed, or you know that wasn’t money that was allowed to be earned and they’re keeping it. It’s not like they’re giving it back to someone that paid the money, no they’re keeping it for themselves.

Joe:                        Yeah, you know it’s funny that you should bring this up Justin because I’ve always said that I believe Amazon and AdSense are wide open for a class action lawsuit for the right lawyer that’s willing to you know find all the sellers. Obviously there’s a big cost there in terms of the time and effort and energy to go after these things.

                                But I really think that they’re right for doing this because the draconian sort of operating agreements that these companies have in place, they have to boarder on illegal because they can’t do this kind of stuff.

Justin:                   By the way just caveat, we’re not lawyers, this is not legal advice, we can’t help you with any of this. I would be interested in hearing from any lawyers though listening to this episode or listening to [inaudible 00:03:48] kind of intro that had some feedback on why we’re not seeing more class actions, why you’re not seeing the publishers banned together. I’d love to hear your feedback, so leave a comment or a leave a message for us I’d love to hear what you have to say.

                                Really Joe, I think there are two really interesting pieces that strike me. The first obviously is the ban from Google, the AdSense ban. Then kind of how they recovered their business after this huge set back. But there is also the benefit or the kind of tactic they’ve taken in terms of leveraging the success over their clients.

                                So I hit them up pretty hard on like, if you’ve got this ability and we’ll talk more about what the company actually does in the interview. If you got this business that helps people that already have successful website and online business to make money right on the traffic they’re already getting, why are you not just using that yourselves? Why are you not buying your own sites, you’re building your own sites. Then tweaking them to maximum benefit?

                                He made a pretty compelling argument for why it’s better to work with other people.

Joe:                        Yeah I mean I’m glad that somebody is able to prove to you that not all the time doing it yourself is the best way, sometimes offering your services to others is a better way to get thing done.

Justin:                   All right men so we’ve got an episode to get into. Before they do that though, let’s pay the bills with our featured listing of the week. What you got buddy?

Joe:                        We’re talking about listing 40741. It’s an Amazon site in the home furnishing niche, it was created back in December of 2014. It’s funny enough that we’re talking about Amazon when we have someone on in recovery for AdSense and Amazon violations. It is making just short of $11,600 a month in net profit and we have it listed at $335,000.

Justin:                   Yeah I know these guys, this business is just under two years old or just about two years old. These are repeat sellers of ours, they’ve sold multiple six figure businesses with us. So this is not their first rodeo in terms of building and in selling sites with us. So [inaudible 00:05:41] this goes to, I’m sure it will go up maybe by the end of the year.

Joe:                        Yeah hopefully because you know these Amazon sites do, do very well this time of year, so we would love to see it find a proper home.

Justin:                   All right men, enough about that let’s dig into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   Today we’ve got Kean Graham from monetizemore.com on the show. He’s going to be talking to us about a lot of things, how his business works. But ultimately we’re going to the big question that I’m curious about is how he lost more than $2.2 million over two months when Google shut down their master account and refused to discuss it further with them.

                                I know a bunch of people that have problem with AdSense but very few that have had a $2.2 million problem with Google and AdSense. So I think that will be really interesting. Kean thanks for coming on the show men.

Kean:                    Thanks Justin yeah excited to talk about that and how we got to that point.

Justin:                   Aren’t you excited to talk about like a horrible time in your business. So you’re going to be fired up about it, right?

Kean:                    Oh absolutely. Yeah.

Justin:                   Let’s get into, what exactly MonetizeMore does. What does it do and who is this service for?

Kean:                    So MonetizeMore increases ad revenues for large traffic websites. So essentially any website that makes the majority of their revenues from banner ads we help them sell it for more. We have technology, and ad optimization teams that improve their ad inventories, so we help them move their ad placements. We chose what ad networks show within the ad placements.

                                We create this auction of say most publishers are from Google AdSense versus all these other [inaudible 00:07:23] alternatives. We facilitate this auction within the ad inventory and essentially optimize that auction so that every ad impression sells for more.

                                When we’re talking about tens and millions, hundreds of millions of ad impressions that adds up to huge increase in ad revenues.

Justin:                   Got you Kean. So if I’ve got a ton of traffic and I’ve got banners and I’ve got advertisers on my site and it can get a little messy, but I’m making money with that then you can help me optimize those ads, you can help bring in new advertisers. Really kind of clean that up to hopefully earn me more money. What do I pay for that services?

                                I mean I’ve already got, let’s say I’ve got you know $30,000 a month on my site. I don’t want to give you any of that, like I’m already earning that, I don’t need your help, like how do you guys make money?

Kean:                    So we charge on a performance basis. So in this example, you’re earning $30,000 we’re not going to touch that. We are going to set a benchmark and then anything above the benchmark that we increase, we take a percentage of the increase. So if we don’t increase your ad revenues we charge nothing.

Justin:                   Got you. So it’s performance based above and beyond the benchmark or whatever it is that I’m doing today.

Kean:                    Right.

Justin:                   All right I think I understand what your business. I mean can you help me if I’m on just like banner ads, if I just have banner ads, what if I have ad sense, what if I have like another monetization, if I’m using Skimlinks, or something like that, any of those you can help me with?

Kean:                    Yeah, so we work with other revenue streams outside of banner ads like native advertising, Skimlinks and VigLink. There’s also some of the non banner ads like there’s top unders, there is background ads, there’s all of those. We try to stay away from those type of ads but sometimes the publishers request them or they’re already running them. Essentially we can optimize any of those monetization streams.

Justin:                   How long am I stuck with you. So if I decide to go with you, am I stuck with you for three months, six months, one year, what’s the contract look like?

Kean:                    We principally find it very important to not stick publishers to the contract. So we make a very relaxed and every one of our publishers has a 30 day opt out.

Justin:                   Cool, okay. So if we’re going along 60 days or so and I realize I just don’t think this is for me. I can give you notice, you got 30 days to kind of clean everything up

Kean:                    Exactly if they’re not happy, we’re not happy, we’re a business built on reputation and there is no way we would want to lean on contracts if they’re not happy.

Justin:                   Cool Kean I think I got a pretty good idea on what your business does today. Let’s talk about how you got started. Now you didn’t start with this, you didn’t start with this business, all these employees. What’s your background, how did you get into this?

Kean:                    So I started I graduated with a business degree in Canada. My first job out the university was with an online classified in Canada. Essentially it’s a Craigslist competitor, and they had websites in Canada, US, and UK to sell used items.

                                Or if someone wants to post like an apartment or rent a car, they essentially use that online classified, and their largest source of revenue was banner advertisement. So I was their first marketing hire, and my job was to grow the traffic as much as possible.

                                It was very entrepreneurial and I was given the task to grow their site to have as many unique users are possible. I pretty much was a growth hacker before growth hacker was even a term.

Justin:                   Got it. Can I hear … We’re going to kind of be the next Craigslist, and I wince a little bit. I recently was talking to an old old friend, years and years ago. He was telling me about look at how ugly Craigslist is, I think we can do Craigslist and it was like in a local market.

                                I think we can do it better, we can make it look better, I was like wincing and just like oh you’re going to be Craigslist, good luck with being Craigslist. So one thing that’s interesting I think about your story is you’re not a programmer, you’re not a developer, that’s not kind of your background. Which I would think you would be for this type of job. I mean it’s fairly technical, it’s very involved, but that’s not your background right?

Kean:                    Exactly, so I pioneered the optimization process to bring a website from just running Google AdSense to running a very optimized ad inventory. That was facilitated via products like DoubleClick for publishers, which is a Google ad server, that’s essentially the brain of the inventory.

                                Then adding all these other competition against Google AdSense to essentially increase the RPM, the revenue per thousand impressions for the publishers.

Justin:                   So is that where you learned how to do this on the Craigslist competitor you’re working for in Canada? I mean was this just a part of your job or did you have to kind of learn this on the job training kind of thing?

Kean:                    So I learned this from pretty much after I finished with this job at the online classified. So I knew it was a big part of the revenue for their website. But my job when I was an employee was just growing traffic.

                                I didn’t come up with this opportunity until I was working to grow my business and come up with that idea that problem that I wanted to solve and I used my old employer as a case study to find out how can I grow their revenues.

Justin:                   Yeah so you were kind of a growth hacker or a traffic guy for your previous employer. I don’t know if you’re still with him or not, but basically you thought hey I’m going to get close to the money because there’s value in that.

                                That if you’re closer to the money and how it’s making money and you can improve that you’re super valuable. You saw that opportunity said look think I can help them improve this and make more money and went down that road.

                                Had you already left them? Were you trying to bring them on as a client, or kind of a contractor, how did that work?

Kean:                    Yeah once I came up with the idea, put together a business plan, they were the first one that I approached to become my first client. At the time I told them of the business model and how I can increase their revenues and they said that’s great.

                                But we can’t really afford to hire you on a retainer because we’ve actually been laying people off. So I said that’s fine, how about I only charge you a percentage of the increase? If I don’t increase your ad revenues, I’ll charge nothing, and they’re like great, that works for us, let’s try it out.

Justin:                   Looking back [inaudible 00:13:47] on that deal would it have been better to just pay you?

Kean:                    Yeah absolutely. For how much we increased their ad revenue. I mean we increased their ad revenues by millions. It literally changed the trajectory of their business. They went from laying people off to hiring people very quickly and it changed the whole look of their business.

                                But also you have to keep in mind that they incentivized my business to do everything possible to increase their ad revenues. Those incentives are very powerful.

Justin:                   Yeah you know what, just to take a pause really quick, what’s interesting is that’s one of the first things Joe and I did when we left the [inaudible 00:14:25] company we worked for in the US is that they became a client of ours.

                                So they were our first and our largest client. When one of our apprentices [inaudible 00:14:33] we became his first client for Facebook ads. So it seems to be, that’s a pretty common move at least in our kind of circles and spaces, that if you’re going to leave, leave on good terms number one, because it gives you an opportunity, right?

                                But leave and look for opportunities where you can continue to work together. If you leave on good terms and you spot an opportunity to work with them, I mean of course it’s a no brainer sure we continue to do business together right, just in a different relationship.

Kean:                    Yeah absolutely, I’ve definitely heard similar stories and it really kind of gives a good example of yeah don’t burn your bridges. I mean there is great opportunities with previously closed doors and yeah it has worked out for the both of us and many others.

Justin:                   So I got to ask, why, I mean you had already had the traffic experience, you knew how to drive traffic right. Your previous employer obviously they’ve already got some traffic, they’ve got some monetization. But why not do this for yourself.

                                I mean why not either buy some businesses that have already kind of are making some money got some traffic or build them from scratch on your own and then make those improvements? Why did you want to do this as a service where it takes a lot more money and a lot more traffic when you’re only getting marginal benefit whereas you could own the whole thing.

Kean:                    For two reasons. I wanted to offer something that drive measurable results to the penny and this was exactly it. I was also inspired by a quote, make a rich person richer and take your cut.

Justin:                   Yeah, I mean I get that because it allows you to leverage, someone else already had success in some areas right. They’re already in traffic and they’re already making some money.

                                So you get to skip all the, I might fail before I get to that stage pieces. So you don’t have to deal with all the hassle and failure of kind of getting started in the business you don’t have to get it up to that level. Have the chance of it dying before it hits that level. You already get passed that and you can piggy back off of their success and add to theirs.

                                So it’s probably easier. The other thing is it’s easier to take a site that’s already earning money and improve those earnings rather than to go from zero to the first thousand or whatever.

Kean:                    Yeah and you’ve probably come across a lot of that with your buyers at Empire Flippers that they want businesses that already have traction and then they can optimize it. It’s very similar principles and it’s how we reinvest our profits. We purchase websites and monetize them more that’s essentially our core competency.

                                It’s much easier to do that versus getting the traction from the very beginning.

Justin:                   All right men, so got it. Let’s talk about launching MonetizeMore. So you did the kind of growth hacking. You looked into this Monetize, your first or your previous employer became your client. Did you know that you’d be able to improve the earnings? How did you know that?

                                I mean were you intimately involved in how much they were earning and how they were earning? Did you see some quick opportunities?

Kean:                    I actually was not involved on the Google AdSense side much except for the last few days that I worked with them. So I really kind of came up with a model it was very theoretical at the time. It’s pretty much basic economic principles of if the supplies see the same be the traffic and increase the demand by adding other AdSense alternatives to compete for the same inventory your price is going to go up.

                                It was that principle that I offered to them as well as other optimization tactics and essentially I was able to prove out the model with the results that you brought in.

Justin:                   All right so you started working with them not for them, but kind of for them because [inaudible 00:18:16] was your only client.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   At what point did you start adding new clients? At first you were like, look I just want to test through it and make it work with these guys first. Then you had a sweet case study to bring to other clients, or did you start shopping for new clients right away?

Kean:                    It took a little over a year to get the next substantial client.

Justin:                   This is, we’re talking by the way you started January 2010 is that right? So you started working for previous employer in January 2010?

Kean:                    Exactly and then we got our second client in 2011, PennySaverUSA.com.

Justin:                   Is that the same PennySavers that used to be handed out all over the US?

Kean:                    Exactly.

Justin:                   Then they went online? Okay.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   Yeah I remember those.

Kean:                    So that was another key one, because a lot of the other websites that we would talk to they would say oh that’s a huge testimonial but it could be a fluke. Or they’d say well used ever is mostly Canadian traffic, it might not apply to German traffic or Mexican traffic or whichever happens to apply to their site.

                                So getting that second testimonial that second success story was really key. So we applied that same model to PennySaver USA and primarily US traffic which was a different geo than the first client, and we were able to get very similar results. I believe we quadrupled their revenues compared to when they just started.

Justin:                   Sweet was, so when you approached PennySaver, let’s say you sold them on a deal, you get them board [inaudible 00:19:50], you get them on board, did you have like check list of things? Because it was still really new, you’ve only done it once with one client.

                                Did you with them like kind of create the kind of process or was it also custom. Did you just look at their system and try to come up with it on the fly or did you kind of have a process already that you were nailing through?

Kean:                    A lot of it’s custom, I definitely had a process. It was a lot of kin of a principle, the principles that I built for optimization. They’re somewhat of a process but if I were to, I would say it’s 80% customization, 20% process at that time.

                                But it’s something that I’ve been really able to prove out later on is that customization when optimizing a publisher’s ad inventory is so huge. It’s something that we learn is why we outperform some of our other alternatives because of that customization to the publishers content to their geo, the demographics of their users.

                                There’s so many little factors to customize it equals to large performance increases.

Justin:                   So you can’t just take a or you could, but it wouldn’t as effective. I can’t just take a template and go down the checklist, and fix this, fix this and necessarily have improvements. I may have some improvements that may work somewhat but not as effective is what you’re saying?

Kean:                    Yeah if the publisher wants to really realize their ad revenue potential then that customization is so key. They really kind of split hairs and they get the full, they really maximize their ad revenue that way.

Justin:                   I’m thinking back so Joe and I when we left and we had our previous employer as our first client, they gave us kind of a no cut contract that was the thing. They end up cutting it in the first year. One of the problems and it becomes apparent especially in this conversation, is that we weren’t direct, we were an operational cost, we weren’t directly tied to revenue or profit. So it’s hard to see like the value.

                                You just see the expense, hard to see the value that we’re providing. I think we do it differently today. But it was I think easier for that not to happen to you because you were directly tied to the profits. So that’s kind of one of the benefits of your business for both the client and for you as you can directly see and pretty easily see. Is it worth to you, is it worth it to them and should you guys continue with the relationship?

Kean:                    Exactly because the publishers that we work with these are majority of the revenue sometimes 100% of the revenue. So this is a make or break for them and yeah we do see the inside of their business and they are very dependent on us.

Justin:                   So right now our listeners are probably listening to this and they’re going okay Justin, he’s got this magical business where it was awesome with this first customer and they crushed it and made millions of dollars. They waited a year and then picked up PennySaver and they crushed it with them, they did really well.

                                So it sounds like this magical unicorn business Kean but you and I both know that’s not the way it works. So let’s talk about did you have any road blocks in the first year or two years that you ran up against or problems that were challenging?

Kean:                    Yeah so with our first clients we ran into a bit of a road block when we were essentially performing too well. Because we charge a percentage on the increase. Because they were making a lot of additional revenues, we were making some really strong commissions, and they didn’t like that.

                                Especially because I was their old employee, and their executives were like why is this guy that used to work for our company making three to four times more than he used to. Because they were looking at me as an individual rather than a business.

                                That’s something that I look back at, and I wish I communicated it better. I should have communicated the business as more than just me and rather than even little things like saying rather than saying me I say we [crosstalk 00:23:44]

Justin:                   Our team will get on that tomorrow, it’s just you.

Kean:                    Exactly.

Justin:                   But yeah I think though, it would have been hard for them because you were their employee, so it might have been even if you were communicating it, it might have been harder for you to all of a sudden be like well we’ll discuss that in our next board meeting you know what I mean? They might have been yeah Kean come on dude you’re killing me.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   That’s one of those ones you look back you’re like I wish we would have done that. You wish you could have, right? You wish you would have had that team and could have, because that would have been nice, you’re looking back at it, it would have been a good amount of money.

                                I got to think from the company’s perspective, so they were like, I don’t know if this is going to work, I don’t want to pay this dude and have it not work. Sure let’s do it on a performance basis.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   That just sucks because then you do it on performance basis you’re crushing it and they’re like, I’m paying him too money. But it’s totally reasonable, I understand where they’re coming from there.

Kean:                    Yeah, from our perspective they changed the goal post, but we renegotiated to a different essentially a different commission style, but it was still based on performance. But we kept on optimizing, and the performance kept on growing. So six months later we were already in just as much as we were last time.

                                So then they got mad again, because we didn’t have any other clients we didn’t have enough negotiation power. So we had to agree to flat retainer. Positioning would have helped having other clients at the time would have helped to have more negotiation power.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Kean:                    You don’t have much negotiation power when you only have one client at a time.

Justin:                   Sure yes.

Kean:                    SO looking back that would be how I would have done things differently, but I mean that first client worked out great. We had a great testimonial and we proved out a model that we use for our websites around the world.

Justin:                   Yeah, no that totally makes sense what you’re saying. I mean if they’re your everything, right? If they’re paying the bills and they want to negotiate with you, you’re kind of stuck. So yeah maybe if you’d added other clients quicker, if you had gotten a little more diversified in your client base you would have been in a better position to negotiate that right.

                                So I think for our listeners that’s a pretty good point. If you’re starting off, whether it’s consulting or you’re offering a service to your customers, the quicker, even if you have like one major customer the quicker you can diversify your customer base add more customers where you’re not so reliant on that one customer the better position you are in or negotiation, it’s always negotiation.

                                So we’ve run similar things as well with our outsourcing companies so I hear you there Kean. Let’s talk about your first hire. When did you first bring someone on was it a VA, was it a partner, how did that work?

Kean:                    So we actually made two full time hires and that was three years into the business.

Justin:                   Sounds like 2014?

Kean:                    ’13.

Justin:                   Okay.

Kean:                    So January 2013 we hired a couple of team members from the Philippines and we essentially-

Justin:                   When you say we who was this at this point? Was it you and a partner was that?

Kean:                    Well actually it was pretty much just me, I say we [inaudible 00:26:43].

Justin:                   You’re saying the we, you’re still doing it, you’re rolling with it now men.

Kean:                    I absolutely have beaten it into myself to say we no matter what time period.

Justin:                   All right so 2003, the singular we, brought on a couple of VAs in the Philippines and how did that go? Were you nervous about that, were you overloaded with work and felt you need to, where you were at then?

Kean:                    That was a big shift in comfort for me to go from me doing everything to actually delegating some of the things and training something that is very difficult to do. Add optimization on the cell side takes a lot of skill talent, analytical skills, and it was very tough to train.

                                For those first two team members, I mean that took over a year to train them how to do that optimization.

Justin:                   Was that your first time hiring or at least first time hiring in the Philippines?

Kean:                    Oh yeah.

Justin:                   There’s a learning curve that comes with that anyway, some people are asking like should I do it, and I’m always like yeah you should. But understand that things aren’t going to be perfect. It’s not just that the people you hire, may not be perfect, you may not be perfect in running them or training them.

                                I think … But everyone should because the better you get at that, especially if you were young, the better you get hiring, the better you get at training, the better you get at like running teams, I mean that’s a skill that’s going to last with you forever.

Kean:                    Yeah completely agree. It’s something that I improved a lot. It took some time they improved, I improved at being a better leader and a trainer. They still work for the company today, so I think I did something right.

Justin:                   Yeah not so bad. So you got a whole bunch of people on your team right now. How many people do you have on your team?

Kean:                    We hired our 61st team member a couple of weeks ago.

Justin:                   61 that’s a lot of people men. So how many are in the Philippines? How many are in the US? How many are in wherever, how does that work?

Kean:                    We’re about 60% Philippines and then we have people all around the world, Canada, US Mexico, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, UK, Hong Kong, all over. It’s pretty wide spread after Philippines, but we had a lot of success hiring in the Philippines because we found people that work really well remotely, they’re very loyal hardworking, English is strong.

                                I think we’ve been especially lucky with the people that we found in the Philippines because the people that worked really well for us that are high performers, so we would get referrals from them. They would talk to the other people that they knew that were high performers and it was a very virtuous circle in terms of finding very solid talent. So I consider ourselves very lucky with the talent that we’ve got in the Philippines.

Justin:                   Yeah that sounds about right. It works the opposite way too thought if you get some bad people, [inaudible 00:29:35]. It’s not guaranteed to be bad but you’re probably in a worse position, but that’s awesome. How is the equity split in your company? Is it all you, did you bring on partners? Did they work their way into the equity did they buy their way in, how is that looking today.

Kean:                    I have full equity we have a, we’re working on a stock option plan to give some additional incentives to some of our executives but I’m 100 equity for our Canadian company.

Justin:                   You ever considered bringing on either investors or equity partners anything like that? What’s the line that you’d cross where you would do that, it would be interesting to you?

Kean:                    At this point I wouldn’t definitely not outside investment. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to be bootstrap and I always wanted the autonomy of the company to be there. For the local independence to always be there because that’s something that outside investment could [inaudible 00:30:29] in and I wouldn’t want to do that.

                                Then in terms of our executive talent I think we have the pieces that we need and we’ve been able to provide that incentive basis with stock options.

Justin:                   So you mentioned location independent, like our company is location independent in terms of our management team and our agents in the Philippines, everyone can live and work wherever they’d like. As long as they have an internet connection and kind of get their stuff done.

                                We do management meet ups every three or four months, we get our management together for a month and we do things like that. But your team is location independent as well and so I know a lot of you travel and visit places and travel around and meet up.

                                What do you think some of the upsides and downsides are of running a location independent business or team?

Kean:                    I would say the upsides are the freedom and autonomy that each one of the team members get. They essentially get to engineer their ideal lifestyle with the location and schedule freedom. We’ve seen that people our team members have been able to really thrive within that atmosphere because they’re essentially engineering their work and lifestyle in the way that fits them the best.

                                So I think that is the key upside to it. The downside is not having that human contact can be difficult for training, for disputes, for some of those tougher conversations. So we try to bridge that gap with a company wide retreat that we have once a year. We do it every October in the Philippines. We fly almost everybody in and we have those team building sessions. We try to bond.

                                We have some fun activities and we essentially give that face value and that rapport. That is the happy middle that we’ve found.

Justin:                   Yeah, I get that, you know we do our manager retreats three times a year. Then we have some of us will go down to the Philippines and meet with the Filipino crew, or we’ll have the Filipino crew go on kind of their own retreats as well throughout the year.

                                I think yeah it’s really important for them to kind of have connection. I found, you know Joe right now has our sales apprentices in Manila and they have an office, a temporary office for a couple of months where he gets them up to speed.

                                He’s like we’re getting so much done right now. I see like there’s a lack of getting stuff done on the customer service side right now by not having everyone in a room. When we are, when we do have those people in a room, it’s just so easy to reach over and be like hey Andrew can we check this out.

                                It’s just so much easier to get stuff done. I love the benefit, and I love the freedom personally, I love the freedom for our team. But I do, there is a bit of a case that the grass is always greener, right?

Kean:                    Absolutely completely agree.

Justin:                   All right men so let’s talk about, we talked about the top of the show. At some point Google Ad Exchange account, your master account was “disapproved” I say with air quotes. When one of your major clients was with hits with bots from the competitors. There was a three week investigation and overall you guys lost $2.2 million, meaning Google put that money on hold, and you weren’t able to access it. At some point they just stopped talking to you.

                                So tell me a little bit about how that went down. Like where were you, how did you hear about it, what was the deal?

Kean:                    So, this was happening towards the end of 2013 and business was good. We’re in Q4 which is a huge quarter for our industry and we were getting some of the highest revenues we’ve never got. What happened was our largest client that was getting huge amount of traffic, they’re earning like millions and they got attacked by one of their competitors.

                                Essentially their competitors ordered a spam attack which is essentially bots that are designed to click on their ads. They’re designed to do that so that they would get their competitors site banned by Google and they were successful.

                                So our largest clients their sub account was banned on Google and because it was such a huge infringement of invalid traffic it created an investigation for the whole master account.

Justin:                   So how did you hear about this? Did you just wake up in the morning, yawn and reach over and grab your phone and find out? Like when was the first time you heard about this?

Kean:                    I found out this actually I was waiting to for a flight to go to Chiang Mai and I saw-

Justin:                   Where were you at, in the US in Bangkok?

Kean:                    No I as in, yeah I think I was in Bangkok actually. I was flying over to Chiang Mai and I saw the sub account ban and keep in mind sub accounts tend to get banned for various reasons. But then we saw this weird payments are on hold, and we got a hold of Google, and they said an investigation has started but it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

                                So we didn’t realize it was a big deal until three weeks later when some people in our company tried to log into their accounts and it says, this account has been disabled. We got one email saying your account has been disapproved because of invalid traffic and that’s all.

Justin:                   When you got that, did your heart just sink were you guys like oh my God this is horrible?

Kean:                    Well I was not the first one to find out. I was actually in Singapore at the time and it was about 3:00 in the morning. I get pinged from everything possible and immediately got on a call for damage control. Long story short I didn’t sleep that night because I was drafting emails and talking to people and complete damage control for-

Justin:                   You have client’s earnings, I mean your client’s earnings were locked up in this.

Kean:                    Absolutely yeah. Absolutely.

Justin:                   So all your clients earnings are in trouble or at risk right now. You got to $2.2 million locked up of your money of their money. People are pissed and your clients are just starting to realize this or noticing this, because they’re probably getting emails too or at least they’re seeing that it’s not working anymore.

Kean:                    Yeah exactly so.

Justin:                   Did you like initially lay out a game plan? Did you give it a couple of days and try to see if things kind of corrected themselves or like what was your approach to fixing this?

Kean:                    We were as proactive as we could possibly be. Getting a hold of google and everybody possible, because we had a master account we were lucky enough to have a Google rep as well. But surprise surprise the Google rep got pretty silent after that happened. We were able to get one call out of him and essentially he could not really tell us anything. Yeah we really didn’t get anything out of it even though-

Justin:                   That’s just crazy, I’m getting mad listening to you right now Kean.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   Can’t really answer your questions, holding $2.2 million good luck kid, good luck that’s crazy. I mean so you’re like oh my God this is the worst thing ever. I mean you can’t … He’s not responding to you, what do you do?

Kean:                    So essentially we were talking with every publisher, one by one obviously they’re not happy, dealing with forum threads, dealing with a barrage of things happening and a lot of crazy publisher situations because they’re looking at losing two months worth of their revenues as well.

                                So we’re trying to set up one off deals and trying to keep them happy obviously we lost a lot of clients because of it, but we’re trying to help these publishers as well. So saving our company because if a normal company were to lose two months worth of revenues, 99% of the revenues over a two month period in the best quarters of their year that would kill them.

Justin:                   It’s not good yeah.

Kean:                    But we survived because we were location independent, we didn’t have office cost, we had a very lean business model. It did take some personal injection of funds but we survived and we became a more sustainable and stronger company from it.

Justin:                   Okay so you survived but that’s different than thriving. That’s different from saving your ass. How did you guys … What happened to the money, what did you do with your accounts, how did you kind of get that back and fixed for your clients and for yourselves?

Kean:                    So we tried to save as many client relationships as possible. We kept everything afloat and then we also had some other publishers and another master account that was not affected. So that we were able to still earn from that. We made three major changes that made us a more sustainable company that eventually did thrive.

                                So number one we implemented a screening process. So any publisher that applies to MonetizeMore now goes through our screening team and essentially our team makes sure that each publisher is 100% Google compliant before even having a chance to get access to our master Ad Exchange account.

Justin:                   Yeah and previously it might have been one of your smaller publishers that just had something wrong with their account which kind of spoils the whole bunch right?

Kean:                    Right.

Justin:                   Now you’re thinking if we take anyone on we’re vetting their traffic, we’re making sure everything is legit. I mean it wasn’t even a case of their shot at being legit though, it was a [inaudible 00:40:18] bots. By the way I’ve seen this happen before, I’ve heard this kind of complaint, and if I had never seen it I might be like yeah sure competitive [inaudible 00:40:25] bots.

                                But I’ve actually seen it, with someone I know personally, and I’ve seen their analytics account where the traffic was coming in. I’ve seen their ads account where they got such a ton of clicks from these bots. Came very quickly, clicked on other ads I’ve seen that happen. So yeah men, so I mean how do you protect against bot clicks.

Kean:                    That’s essentially the second thing that we implemented. We partnered with a flawed traffic detection and suppression company to essentially do exactly that for our publishers. So they would once you implement the Java scripts on the publisher page it would detect the fraud or invalid traffic and then suppress it, so that no non human risky traffic can make it on the website.

Justin:                   Do you think that’s how, companies like let’s say the New York Times for example, do you think that’s how they avoid problems like this? I mean do they use companies like that you think?

Kean:                    I wouldn’t know exactly which company they use, but I would say it’s very likely that they use fraud traffic detection and suppression.

Justin:                   Yeah, okay. So that’s the second thing, what was the third thing you’ve done?

Kean:                    We diversified our revenues. So, before the Google disapproval we were too dependent on our Google master account namely our big one. So what we did was we diversified towards our premium publisher model where we worked with very large publishers, where they were large enough to have their own Google Ad Exchange account and they’re completely independent of our master account.

                                So if the ban were to ever happen again they would be completely unaffected. So we really build our premium publisher business and we also built some new products so that our revenues are so diversified so if one of them goes down we are still a profitable healthy business.

Justin:                   So I hate to do this to you, I’m going to throw it in there though, just to throw it in there because I’m a jerk. But one of the concerns or fears is like if you have someone logging in from a particular IP into your master account, and they’re logging in into someone else’s account, because they probably do I’m sure they need to, right?

                                Even if it’s not that master account, because they’re logging in from that same IP, they could easily tie that person to both accounts and ban the other one as well. I’m not saying they would necessarily but they could, and that’s the fear with Google. You got to deal with their horribleness when they’re horrible. So how do you work around that?

Kean:                    So Google has a tracking technology to segment that. Within the sub accounts there they have it broken down by domain. So only if the fraudulent traffic happens on that particular domain, then it’s attributed to the sub account and only isolated to the sub account. So only if a whole master account gets banned, will all the other sub accounts be affected.

Justin:                   Got you, okay men what a mess. So you never got the original problem truly fixed, like Google didn’t fix it for you but you did take steps to avoid this in the future by diversifying not just having everyone under the Google master account, using their own accounts if they were large enough through your premium partnership program.

                                By using the fraud detention and suppression unit basically third party company. Then what was the third thing? oh diversifying your [inaudible 00:43:59] oh the first one was checking, like basically vetting the partners you took on. So I mean but you never got that money, didn’t come back, that’s one Google kept it.

Kean:                    Yeah, that’s gone forever and we have no expectations of it coming back. We have that other Google Ad Exchange master account and it’s still healthy. Since implementing the screen process and the fraud traffic detection and suppression we haven’t had any issues at all since and we’ve been very clean.

                                We’ve also been able to set up a certified partnership with Google where we are Google AdSense certified partners and they essentially vouch for us as a business. We’ve been able to do that despite all the issues we had with that previous master account.

Justin:                   That’s so interesting, so you’re a Google partner on one account and banned and lost on the other, it’s amazing you did that. By the way I know you probably don’t want to rock the boat here the risk of sounding like an ambulance chaser, I’ve got some attorney friends that probably would love to go after the $2 million if you’re interested. I don’t know if you want to.

Kean:                    I appreciate the offer but Google is a very important partner to us so the partnership with Google is worth more than $2.2 million.

Justin:                   Yeah for sure. All right, so last question on this particular topic. I’m listening to this podcast, I’ve got a ton of traffic, I’ve got some AdWords, I’m sorry some AdSense monetization on the site, I’m a little worried about working with you, because you lost a bunch of money, how do you calm my fears and let me know that’s not going to happen to me, and I’m going to be good?

Kean:                    Because we are not safer than all the other alternatives that have master accounts. Our screen proof-

Justin:                   Because you’ve gone through this?

Kean:                    Oh yeah. So someone who’s been burnt is less likely to get burnt again versus someone who’s never been burnt because they know the pain.

Justin:                   They’re smart for sure.

Kean:                    That’s true.

Justin:                   Got you men. So let’s talk a little bit about your company. I mean your marginal, I mean your revenue is marginal. I mean you get a piece of your clients. You said you have 61 hires. How big are you today? Like how diversified are your publishers, how many publishers do you have right now?

Kean:                    So we’re pretty heavy on the premium publisher end. We have close to 300 publisher networks, and thousands of domains that we manage all of their ad inventory.

Justin:                   By networks I maybe one company and have 60 different sites or something that are part of my network right?

Kean:                    Exactly.

Justin:                   Okay so you’ve got. How much traffic are we talking about overall, do you have an idea in terms of like how many visits per month or something?

Kean:                    We are close to 300 million unique users per month and over 15 billion ad impressions per month.

Justin:                   Sweet lord okay, so you’ve got some traffic, you got to a ton of traffic. How much revenue total revenue is coming in and then what are your splits on that?

Kean:                    The total managed revenue of all the publishers?

Justin:                   Yeah.

Kean:                    The total managed revenue of all the publishers per month, I believe last month was $7 million.

Justin:                   Okay then you don’t get a piece of that, you get a piece of the piece right? Because depending on where they were at before and then what you’re at, you’re going to get a percentage of the [inaudible 00:47:19]?

Kean:                    Yeah and keep in mind with our premium publishers we have a lot of one off deals that are better tailored for their situation because certain publishers prefer different metrics. Some of the calculation of our commissions can get quite complex based on their situation.

Justin:                   How do you deal with I mean do you have a, this is a quick question we get often too is like do you offer discounts to different publishers depending on how big they are? Is that transparent or is that just someone that just needs to ask about it?

Kean:                    We apply, we customize our pricing based on their situation and volume does help and sometimes we do tiers, tiers of volume that they bring in, because it’s very common for a publisher to test us out with one of their sites. If we perform well then let’s do their whole network.

                                So we incentivize by giving them incentives to add more volume to our network, and we actually encourage them to start with one site because we want to make sure that they’re comfortable first.

Justin:                   So who’s the small, let’s say I’ve got a site it’s getting you know 100,000 visits a month, it’s making $10,000 a month, is that too small for you? Like what’s your kind of like minimums that you’re looking for. Tell me like what a minimum is, what’s your average customer and then what’s a whale look like?

Kean:                    Minimum is half a million page views per month and that would get eligible to run Google Ad Exchange within our master account and some of our Ad Exchange optimization and we also have a dash board where they can view their Ad Exchange performance.

                                Then we have a middle tier product called MonetizeMore On Demand. That implements header bidding for these publishers which is a very new thing in the ad optimization industry. It’s essentially ad optimization 2.0 we have a technology that facilitates like for publishers and we do a concierge set up for these publishers.

Justin:                   What kind of traffic are we looking at for the middle tier option?

Kean:                    Over 10 million.

Justin:                   Oh Jesus. Okay.

Kean:                    The over 20 million page views per month that’s the minimum for a premium publisher, and they essentially get everything. Everything with one commission charge based on our performance.

Justin:                   Okay so you’re looking for a ton of traffic. What if I have a side business making like let’s say 250 to 300,000 page views a month but it’s super well monetized. I mean that’s just not what you’re looking for. So I’m making $20,000 a month on my 300,000 page views like that’s just not interesting to you because it’s well monetized. You’re looking for the high traffic low monetization sites?

Kean:                    Yeah we’re looking or long term partnerships where they get value from MonetizeMore. We’re looking for success stories, and for us to provide sufficient value, they need to be of a certain size and half a million page views is what we found is what they need to be before we can offer them enough value for them to run MonetizeMore many years into the future.

Justin:                   So this could be, I mean the major players but it could also be some of the like newsjacking sites, celebrity sites, that do get a ton and traffic and don’t make that much per visitor. Those are the ones that you think you can apply your magic to your mojo and make you make more money.

Kean:                    That’s one of the site, so some of our entertainment sites, some of our education. Some of them get really crazy high RPMs as well. With the newsjacking sites that’s actually an interesting point, the Google AdSense has actually banned any fake new sites.

Justin:                   I saw that yeah.

Kean:                    So now fake news sites cannot earn revenues on Google AdSense so [inaudible 00:50:59]

Justin:                   I mean like what do they mean by that? Like the Onion’s is a fake news site, butt I’m sure they’re fine right?

Kean:                    That’s actually an interesting point, I’m not sure if the Onion was affected perhaps-

Justin:                   You know what I mean? Like I understand you’re saying not a satire site but like a … I mean you know it when you see it, right what it says with all the election stuff going on, it’s like Trump ate an alien yesterday, that’s clearly not true. I think those are the ones they’re talking about right.

Kean:                    Yeah and maybe the onion has some type of disclaimer in their saying it’s a satire seg which would get them off the hook, but yeah.

Justin:                   If you could tell me, Kean you have several different kind of customer avatars. For our listeners describe to me kind of your perfect customer. Someone called you up said hey I want to join what would they look like, what kind of site would they have?

Kean:                    They would have website that gets over 20 million page views per month. So our premium publisher they have a community that has a high return on traffic, high [inaudible 00:52:03] to get over 10 page views per vision. They have traffic from all over the world and they are interested in really driving the results. They want to improve their revenues.

Justin:                   So CraigsList or a Wikipedia would be, you’d love your chops all over those sites, put some ads on those, yes please.

Kean:                    Yeah.

Justin:                   Got you.

Kean:                    Except for they’re not so interested in revenues.

Justin:                   No, yeah, not so hot. So tell me what opportunities do you see in your market? I mean do you see this as a growing market in the next 3, 5, 10 years. Where do you want to be? Where do you want to fit in? Where do you see your company in the next 3, 5 10 years.

Kean:                    So we are automating our business in a place where we get the best from manual ad optimization and technologies. So we do not want to compromise our performance as our number one priority. So we are building our technologies so that it’s a useful tool for our team and eventually we’re going to enable publishers to use our technology to optimize their own platforms.

Justin:                   So you got this internal tool that you guys are using. You want to take the internal tool, pretty it up a bit and let publishers use it externally. But right it’s built for you guys.

Kean:                    Yeah so we are going to be releasing a new product called PubGuru. Essentially what it does is it’s a platform that can bring a publisher from just running Google AdSense directly on page to implementing DFP then implementing header bidding and implementing Ad exchange on [inaudible 00:53:49] allocation within DFP so that it’s all competing against each other and all facilitated within that platform.

                                It essentially enables your Joe Schmoe webmaster who doesn’t have much developer experience to actually implement it on a site where currently it’s not possible with the current offerings out there.

Justin:                   All right Kean you’re nerding out on me a bit men, sounds interesting. But it’s basically a self service platform. Are you going to offer that as your idea? Because it seems like let’s say I get the 200,000 page views or the 400,000 page views, I’m under your minimum I mean who’s out there to help me? Are there competitors on the lower end or is this designed as a self service platform to help people like that?

Kean:                    It’s designed as a self service platform for publishers that want to do it on their own, offering to run it as outsourced and optimization but not all publishers want to do that. So this is kind of-

Justin:                   Like an in-house person or team or something?

Kean:                    Exactly so we’re going to provide the tools for them to be able to be empowered by technology where they normally don’t have their own technology. Because a lot of these publishers they’re reinventing the wheel in-house and there’s no offerings out there that actually allow them to do some very high level ad optimization.

                                A lot of our competitors they are built to be scalable and they only really do well with very small sites. There’s nothing out there that does really well for the very large sites out there.

Justin:                   Got you, I mean for your benefit I mean obviously it diversifies your revenue give you some recurring sass basically. Diversifies your business, gets you into kind of a new space and allows you to deal with customers that you don’t have today. Because the ones that want [inaudible 00:55:43] done for them service are hiring you and the ones that aren’t you’re losing right?

Kean:                    Exactly and the really exciting part about it, that we’ve heard from publishers that’s really important is transparency. They’re currently not getting transparency from the other ad technologies out there and we want to offer that to them so they can optimize their ad inventory on their own and they can also get that full transparency so they know what’s happening within their ad inventory.

Justin:                   Would you roll up all of your customers and show how everyone’s doing in aggregate not each individual person, but would you show kind of aggregate numbers on that?

Kean:                    I would be open to it especially for some interesting stats to show trends and be able to benchmark.

Justin:                   That would be interesting, I wouldn’t want you showing my numbers but I wouldn’t mind so much if you showed aggregate numbers or industry numbers.

Kean:                    Exactly like anonymous numbers as aggregate. I think that would be really interesting and could be quite useful but it comes down to obviously all the fun legal stuff.

Justin:                   You’re getting the platform up and ready and I know that’s always over budget and takes longer than you expect. Kean man thanks so much of coming out. Is there anything I should have asked you about that you wish you had more of a chance to talk about?

Kean:                    NO I think we covered everything.

Justin:                   Cool, mean well if anyone wants to get a hold of you obviously they can monetizemore.com check out your site a little bit more about what you guys offers, see if their site or their business is a good fit. Anywhere else you hang out Twitter, Facebook or anything like that?

Kean:                    Yeah so we have a ad to MonetizeMore Twitter account, we have /monetizemore Facebook account, and we have a /monetizemore LinkedIn account.

Justin:                   Yeah buddy, where you at right now in the world?

Kean:                    I’m in Taipei Taiwan. I just moved into an apartment here a week ago and I’ll be here till right before Christmas.

Justin:                   Nice men I settled in, I’m Saigon been here about a week and I’m going to be here through Christmas. I’m doing a couple of months time for me to settle in for a bit.

Kean:                    Attaboy nice, it should be nice. Yeah thanks for the webinar this has been great talk.

Justin:                   Yeah thanks so much for coming on men, appreciate it.

Kean:                    Cool, all right. Take care.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:                   All right Joe time for some news and updates. First off buddy we got the three new sales apprentices, they’re on board, they’re trained we spent quite a bit of time working with them in Chang Mai. You actually took them down to Phuket for our retreat down there. Then they’re now off in Manila working with your directly men tell me how it’s going?

Joe:                        It’s going great. I’m not sure whether it’s because we’re just a little bit more of a mature company, we have process in place, or it’s because we have good people to kind of help with the training, and it’s not just all on me and you.

                                But it’s been going great we’ve been able to get these guys up to speed a lot faster than the normal three months you’re totally useless thing. They’ve already closed some deals, so it’s been exciting, having an office, having them there, hearing them on the phone, using my scripts to close deals and to get people what they need.

                                So we’ve been doing a lot of high touch stuff. For those of you out there who are buying or selling on our platform you’re probably going to be talking to one of these guys soon.

Justin:                   So we got them out middle of October is kind of when they started with us. When do you think they’ll be fully kind of ready up and running you know running at least like 80, 90% efficiency?

Joe:                        I would say like Christmas.

Justin:                   Nice men so that’s not too long. We’re talking a little over two months now?

Joe:                        Yeah the biggest hurdle now is definitely teaching them how to negotiate the deal and how to do counters and how to do that part and that’s definitely more of an art. It’s just going to take some tries of going through that stuff.

                                December is normally a very active time for us for deal negotiations so there’s a lot of examples to teach them with.

Justin:                   It’s interesting we went from hiring normally one apprentice at a time, which is kind of how we’ve done it in the past then we hired two on the marketing side. This time we went with three, do you think that was too much do you think it was just right or were we kind of so far behind on these hires that it was just so needed it didn’t matter?

Joe:                        I think it’s just right especially for sales, sales is a competitive environment. It’s definitely helped out that way and we can keep it a team as well where other guys can pick up the slack if somebody is having a bad day or needs help with a particular client or what not.

                                So yeah hiring three has been awesome. I think if we only hired one it would have been too much of a load on one person and three is nicely distributed.

Justin:                   Nice mean we’re actually looking for a customer service manager in the new year. Probably have the ad up maybe January, February and have them out like March, April. One of the things that’s an open question is do we bring out a manager to run the team of customer services we have now? Or do we bring out two or three people and develop a manager out of those apprentices? So that’s something I’m weighing and we’re definitely discussing. I know which way you lean on this.

Joe:                        Yeah I mean I think always a slightly competitive environment will assist you. But more important I think just having them in an office now with these guys for a few weeks tells me that you got to go down this road and sooner rather than later I can get some people out here to help you on the customer service side.

Justin:                   Speaking of which this is something we should probably bring up is that you’re previously running kind of vetting, and the customer service team in addition to sales right? Well as we bring on three new sales people that’s just too much for you to take on.

                                With the two new marketing people I’ve brought on and trained, they seemed to be doing well, of kind of running our marketing side. So this is an opportunity for us to switch responsibility on the vetting customer service side from you over to me.

                                So it’s something I took over in the last month or so and will continue to run as we look to expand our team there, bring out a manager, or a get a manager trained up and kind of split that off. We have one person right now that’s kind of listings manager and the customer service manager. We’re really seeing a need for two roles there. So we’re going to be splitting that heading into 2017.

Joe:                        Yes. So I’m really glad to have this on your plate now, I think that you’re better suited for this kind of customer service angle. I’m more of a sales and a production type guy, maybe with a little accounting in the mix rather than customer service.

Justin:                   Speaking about heading into 2017 one of the things we’re trying to accomplish in 2016 is squeaking out 10 million I sales for the year man. We were hoping to get that done this year, I think we’re going to be close. We have a big deal that we’re trying to wrap up, should be wrapped up here in December.

                                If that happens we’re going to hit our 10 million if not we’re going to be super close somewhere between nine, nine and a half and 10, right around there Joe?

Joe:                        We had a great November so you know like you said, we need that $1.5 million deal to absolutely crush in 10 million. If we don’t get that one done this year, if it falls through to next year then who knows December is always a high activity month for sure but we might come up just a few hundred thousand short which would definitely be a little disappointing.

Justin:                   It’s funny how December can be a pretty a much larger month. We might have like a slow month during the summer but December is actually pretty active for us. Speaking of December, you and I are kind of settling in, so I’m going to be in Saigon in November, December, January and probably February, you’re going to be in Manila all that time.

                                We don’t have any like major meet ups, we don’t have any particular events that we’re going to be going to. So if anyone is out in South east Asia and stopping by either in Manila or Saigon do reach out to us if you want to grab a coffee or a dinner or a beer whatever.

Joe:                        Absolutely, I might be doing some island hopping type quick trips within the Philippines, but I’m not going anywhere big.

Justin:                   Cool men, let’s do some listener shots also known as the indulgent, ego boosting social proof segment, first up Koran said, “Great podcast gents, very inspiring story Justin. Like you biz process is something I struggle with as well.” Yeah I think having your business processes in place are really good.

                                One of our best I think articles on that is our standards operating procedures, blog post, which I’ll share in the share notes if you’re interested to read more about that.

                                I had a message from Onandaya, said “Empire Flippers are you based in Thailand?” No we’re not although we do visit Thailand pretty often. You can find us in Bangkok, Phuket or Chiang Mai if not us as a team, you can find one or two of our team members there definitely a few times a year.

                                Boris had a question, “Justin are general magazines style sites still useful for either AdSense or Amazon or do you recommend to niche down? I think magazine style sites still do just fine. I think if you’re starting off, or you’re looking to just get started, niching down to a very particular niche or industry is just easier to get traction.

                                If you have a magazine site about anything and everything and it’s very wide ranging, it’s hard to get any traction because it’s just about everything. You’re not really building your crew, you’re not really building your audience or your followers or your readers.

                                [inaudible 01:04:32] specifically about drones for example, and you’re talking the latest stuff with drones, you’re going to be kind of up on the drone topic. People are going to recognize you as an expert and that’s easier to kind of build your audience, build your tribe.

                                Also, if your site is about a particular niche or industry like drones for example, and it’s AdSense type site your cost per click is going to be higher generally. So when you have just kind of like about every subject kind of magazine style site your CPC is much lower than if it’s very specific and targeted.

Joe:                        Yeah I completely agree there especially with Amazon. I mean you made the example with AdSense but with Amazon as well. Because you can really kind of pick through the products that you want to promote, make sure they’re high value sort of products and accessories.

                                Whereas you have a general magazine site you never know what kind of products that you might be writing an article on. So definitely we recommend sticking to niching down especially when you’re starting out, it’s just going to be a lot easier to get traction in the rankings as well, at least you can find that kind of easier to rank for type stuff. So stick to niches there where it’s at.

Justin:                   Riches are in the niches, men that sound so cheesy. I think Amazon particularly [inaudible 01:05:40] for buying intent and that’s going to be really important too because you’re going to want people that are searching with some buying intent, so they’re more likely to click through and go buy something on Amazon than then just kind of click through to get more information.

                                All right buddy we’ve got some great mentions some great interviews I want to share, we’re going to put links to these on the show notes. Had a really fun webinar with our buddy Greg over at Jungle Scout on how to sell FBA business.

                                If you’re at all interested about the process on selling an FBA business, but you have to go through with the immigration or turn over or transfer looks like, it’s a great webinar to take a look at.

                                We also got a guest post over our niche proceeds about selling a $550,000 Amazon affiliate site in only 29 days. So we had a seller come along wanting to list and sell their business in less than 30 days we were able to sell their half a million dollar Amazon affiliate site, which is pretty exciting.

Joe:                        Yeah it was a great post and I was involved in that sale, glad to see it’s still working out. We really need to follow up with that buyer, maybe he’s ready to buy again.

Justin:                   Yeah for sur men. There’s a guest post that went live around human proof designs about buying sites. He build sites from scratch for people that are looking like you know, that are just starting out and don’t really know how to build their first site. But he recommends look if you’ve got the money, and you’re looking for earners you can buy earning sites right now and talks about the buying process.

                                Also a guest post over at Earth Class Mail on their blog about 11 mistakes sellers make when selling their business. I think it’s great that we got a guest post on Earth Class Mail. We’re huge customers, and we’ve been customers since how long?

Joe:                        2008. Yeah we spend a lot of money on Earth Class Mail.

Justin:                   Almost a decade so not only have we spend some money with them but we’ve been with them almost a decade. I’m with them personally, you’re with them personally our business is with them. We get mails there, we get checks they deposit for us. I mean they just, I run any bit of mail is all run through Earth Class Mail.

                                I get credit cards sent them, I get just everything sent through Earth Class Mail. They’ve been hugely valuable to our business, long term, it’s helped us run our business overseas and people ask how do you do that and what kind of address do you use well Earth Class Mail helps a lot with that.

                                Oh and they’re not sponsors either, they should be probably. If we ever need sponsors we’ll hit them up for it.

Joe:                        Absolutely. Well I started to see that they had a blog, and they had mentions of people using their platform, I was like wow we fit in perfectly for this, we’ve been doing it since the beginning so interesting to hear from them.

Justin:                   Do you remember it was six months ago or maybe a year ago or something, I read something about they ran some financial problems. They were bankrupt or they got bought out something I don’t remember exactly what happened. I was like oh shit, is Earth Class Mail going out of business? I think they put it on Twitter on something and their CEO reached out to me he’s like, “No, no we’re not going out of business.” I was like oh okay, great that’s when we first kind of connected with them.

                                Seems like it’s a really cool business they got going on, I really like their model. They’re old school, they’ve been around and have been doing it a long time but I think it’s a really valuable service.

Joe:                        Yeah absolutely if you’re going to go remote. If you’re going to be overseas and running your business I highly suggest getting an Earth Class Mail address.

Justin:                   Do it before you leave too because there is some paper work you have to sign and get notarized and stuff to prove that it’s really going to be your permanent address so make sure you do it before you go overseas.

                                That’s it for episode 164 the Empire Podcast thanks for sticking with us. We will be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at empireflippers.com/monetizemore. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @empireflippers. See you next week.

Joe:                        Bye, bye everybody.

Speaker 2:           Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit up empireflippers.com for more that’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.

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