Max is the co-founder and COO of WhatRunsWhere, a competitive intelligence service for online media buying. We help online and mobile advertisers buy more intelligently, discover new traffic sources, and keep an eye on their competition.
→ Find out what WhatRunsWhere does
→ His current role and what runs away or what he does personally
→ His thoughts on what kind of person he thinks is successful
→ His thought on wrangling big data
→ What examples of some companies that are using big data effectively to take market share
→ What other places that a startup can find big data
→ His strategy as a competitive intelligence service for online media buying
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Max Teitelbaum with us. Max, thank you so much for coming on the program.
Max: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Bronson: Absolutely. So let’s learn a little bit about Max. You’re the co-founder of what runs Wired.com. So tell us about your company. What does it do?
Max: So what burns? Where does as we do online advertising, analytics and planning for media buying. So we allow people to see what their competitors are doing online and on the mobile. On mobile as well. Take that information and bring back into their own campaign so that they can boost their profits and, you know, really take what their competitors spend while doing it and use that to reduce risk.
Bronson: Gotcha. When people come to your product, they think it’s like magic.
Max: I saw some do and others get what we do very quickly and see the value there. And others are, what is this? I don’t get what I’m looking at. There’s a myth.
Bronson: Well, even the ones that get it, I mean, it seems magical, like, wow, I can really get access to this kind of data. It seems like I should have access to it.
Max: Not really. The way I do it, the way I explain it is, you know, if if there are billboards on a highway where basically the car that drives around and takes picture of the billboard and someone’s on that billboard and where it is on the highway and we just make that information available.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely.
Max: I love the Internet.
Bronson: Yeah, I like that analogy. So what’s your current role? What runs away or what do you do personally?
Max: I will. Or do I do? Not that much. No, I’m joking. I am I am our chief operating officer. So I generally make sure that the company runs as smoothly as possible. I wear a number of hats as we’re still a small company, we’re only 11. So there’s always a lot of work to do. So I help support the sales team. I help make sure that, you know, all of our, you know, finances and all that reporting and all that kind of stuff is in line and where it needs to be. And then I liaison between our sales and support side and our tech side to make sure that there’s, you know, goals are in alignment there as well.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Like most startups, you do probably a little bit of everything.
Max: Everything but the development.
Bronson: There you go. That’s right. Same with my with my personal company. I have engineers and I let them do what they do as well. Well, you seem to gravitate towards big data with what runs where. And with even some of the startups that you invest in. Tell us real quick what is big data? Because you hear that thrown around a lot, especially, I think, the Obama campaign.
Max: Big, big, big data doesn’t necessarily mean, you know, one one thing big data to me at least, is when you have a sizable amount of data, I’m not talking about ten data points, but you have millions upon tens of millions of data points. And it’s being able to take that data and make something actionable or useful or use that to create a product or service.
Max: So, you know, with the Obama campaign, we’re talking about being able to take users, you know, geographic and demographics and likes and all that stuff and synthesize that into the correct political messaging across the country.
Bronson: Absolutely. Is big data changing the way that savvy companies market themselves? Or is it just the hype of the hour?
Max: Well, it’s a big day is a huge buzzword, you know, but being able to take large amounts of data and you know, if you look at Moore’s Law and how computers are expanding out and how a processor with come are able to deal with more and more and more data constantly. And we can use that to unlock insights that previously haven’t been able to be seen. So it changes the way that we do business globally, to be honest. Mm hmm. Um, from. From, you know how we stock inventory in the store to how we make our advertising decisions? All of it can be driven by data. Yeah. And, you know, we we use, we say the Harvard Business Review just for our study. Only 11% of decisions in marketing are made using data. Most of them are made using past experience and gut intuition. Mm hmm. And that means there’s huge inefficiencies within that market, and we hope that we can solve those inefficiencies using data. Yeah, because sometimes data shows you things that isn’t exactly logical. Like, you know, you may think that red outperforms blue in this banner. Mm hmm. But if you look at a sample size of a couple of million people, we may be able to see that in these cases. It’s exactly the opposite. Mm hmm. If you can analyze and view that, you suddenly have a much more efficient campaign.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. What kind of person do you think really is successful? Kind of wrangling big data? Does it take a marketing mind? Does it take an engineering mind? Does it take kind of an admixture? What do you think?
Max: And it takes a measure of a big data, as I say, isn’t just marketing. You know, it goes across every industry. You I personally love statistics in school when I was in high school, I don’t know. I don’t know what my national statistics was. My high subject. Huh. I really I really do. It’s weird. I’ll sit at home and watch, you know, videos on statistics, really, really low statistics and take somebody that, you know, has a has a firm math background to actually go in. And do that. Yeah. But then it just having an analog mind and wanting to understand, you know, data is available to everybody. It’s what what do you infer what you choose to do with that data that that really becomes important.
Bronson: Gotcha. What are some examples of some companies that are really using big data effectively just to take market share? Do you have any kind of go to a case study that you think about of like let’s be like them.
Max: To take market share? Yeah, I think the banks do a console and it’s never been called big data, but the banks take the banks take a massive amount of data and use it to prequalify you for other stuff. And even when you look at these free rewards cards that are coming out, a lot of them have terms within them where they can take all these different data points about you and then use it to pre-qualify you for cars and for, you know, and for other credit cards and things that aren’t necessarily logically related. But they take that data, that spending data, that demographic data and leverage it back in. Or a perfect example, you know, is, is a DMP and data management platform like BlueKai or X or something like that that takes it, that collects this data from consumers and then sells it back to exchanges and networks to improve targeting.
Bronson: Yeah. Well, let’s let’s stick with those two examples for a second, because both those examples, they have a lot of capital use. A bank has a lot of capital to put out. These are working hard to get the data they need. They have teams of people to analyze the data. They have kind of whole system in place to really use big data to their advantage. Is big data something that only you can use if you have a big budget or can startups these big data.
Max: I mean, everybody can use big data and when that’s our big day is such a buzzword because you know, back when I my and both my grandparents ran a fairly successful clothing wholesale business here in Canada and and I was sitting with my grandfather the other day talking about it. He was an he was describing to me about how when they first when they first brought it on to a computer system, it took a week running 24 seven for all of their for all their SKUs to be put into, you know, and into a folder and, you know, and all broken down. Now, that’s a 20 minute process. Yeah. You know, once you have everything loaded, it takes time and so run and create that. So what we think is big data today is going to be small data tomorrow. Huh. So but but but the key there is that startups like, let’s say, are trying to data and try and make it available to everybody that that that that’s sort of, you know, the crux of disruption in a lot place is making something that was only available to a few available to many and then and then moving upstream at that point.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. So you talk about how you’re disrupting by giving in card to the to the smaller players. Are there any other places that a startup can find big data? Because as I’m hearing this, I’m thinking, yeah, I believe that I need a lot of data points. I want to think about it statistically. I want to be like Max and see the world this way. But outside of what runs where? Like, where do you actually get this data? I mean, it’s not just like.
Max: Well, what kind of data you’re talking about. We’re talking about marking data or we talking about sales data, you know, or you know or what what are we talking about? Because you can, you can buy data throughout your whole throughout your whole process. Yeah. We apply data from anywhere from our sales side to our technical side within our actual infrastructure to how we actually spend money. You know, yeah, we, we use our own competitive intelligence to help us better do our to do retargeting and all that goes up. And we and big data affects us day to day even when we don’t know it, especially when we’re talking about somebody. I do hire actually where they have a profile on you. You just don’t know it yet.
Bronson: So what places do you go for data for your own company when you do marketing? When you do, I mean, obviously use your own product, what runs where, but what other companies do you use?
Max: I mean, it’s not necessarily big data, but will you use Alexa and Quantcast will look at, you know, demographic profiles across across websites and that we’ll use things like built with or, you know, those type of companies to look out, you know, large data samples on other companies. Or if we look at ghostery and that kind of product and how they, you know, how they categorize ad networks, I mean, those are very specific and they’re not necessarily big data, but those are very specific examples of tools that we use. But well, basically, we knew, as I say, about big data. But when you can spy on your own data sets. Mm hmm. You can then start to make inferences from. And there are tools out there to help you do that.
Bronson: Now what? What do you mean, spy on your own data set?
Max: Like when we send our military users, we have data, we have a certain number of emails and we have a certain or unsubscribe, you know, a certain number open to a certain number of close to a certain number, actually, that come out of that. And when we take that back in and take it out of our email program and we put it back into to, you know, somebody to actually sit down, analyze it, we can say, okay, this test or what we’ve done here has results in X. Yeah.
Bronson: Do you think that’s kind of an untapped resource that a lot of startups have data of their own that they’re actually not analyzing well enough or at all?
Max: Yeah. You. You should create a company that helps them do that.
Bronson: All right. There you go. There you go. So go ahead.
Max: Data generated everywhere. You know, even, you know, like anything that you do within a startup, the numbers we have, for example, we have we do is something we did. We we do something called war reports. Weekly action reports. Mm hmm. Where when we have salesmen with our business book on business development, when we get a report about the number of calls they make, the number of people that pick them off I call, the number of emails sent, the number of emails return, and for each different action that they’re doing. So we can say this is what’s been effective in your weekly process here is what’s not being effective within your business.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. So it makes you have a deep understanding of the ad industry just by virtue of your product. What runs where you probably see the landscape of ad buying probably more fully than most people, especially if they’re just getting into it. What ad networks do you gravitate toward? What ad networks do you think right now? Give the best ROI? And I know that’s going to depend on industry. I know it’s going to depend on specifics.
Max: But be very.
Bronson: Tell me if there is one, what it is or which ones work for different channels best or different companies best.
Max: There’s no answer there because there’s an audience for any product on almost any ad network. Mm hmm. You just have to find it. The place that you know is really exciting is I don’t know if you know this, but yesterday we just announced that we released an app monitoring coverage so we can show you what’s running within Android apps. But that that mobile landscape is really interesting to me. Mm hmm. As mobile is where, you know, general display will bind was ten years ago. Yeah. So it’s going to evolve, and the people that figure it out now are going to do really well moving forward, especially if you can capitalize that for your brand or you’re just doing something in direct response. Marketing for is suddenly, you know, becomes a very interesting, you know, industry to be in. Mm hmm. And though all those ad networks, anyone from AdMob to, you know, to smart out to, you know, Inmobi to top to top, John jumped app or tapped everyone to type in their name somewhere. Yeah. You know, being able to fully understand the picture, what’s happening there is extraordinarily important. Yeah. And you can leverage that. And it’s and the process is the same on display. It’s just a lot more refined. Yeah.
Bronson: Yeah. Let me ask you this. When a startup decides they want to do ad buys, they want to go and, you know, have advertising on Google, Facebook, you know, fill in the blank, whatever it may be. Are they wasting their money if they’re not doing the what runs where kind of research, if they’re not figuring out what the.
Max: Actually you waistline you you waste money doing the testing phase if you can look at what other similar companies have done and been successful with. Mm hmm. And, you know, here are all the different images and all different, you know, calls to action they’re using. They’re out of. Here’s the one that works for are all different questions. They tested here the best one. Yeah. Save a ton of time and money and and, you know, and before you do any of that, you should also just be retargeting your wizards of you. You know, there should be a strong focus on internal traffic and you can convert more of the people that come to your website. They’re very educated about your provides a much cheaper conversion channel for you.
Bronson: Yeah. Who do you guys use for retargeting? What’s your favorite company called? Perfect audience. Yeah, actually, I think I’m going to have them on the show as well.
Max: Yeah. Yeah, that’s Laura.
Bronson: Yeah, I think I have them coming up. I got a lot on my nose. My producer.
Max: Was. Yeah, I know. I know, Brad. And they built. They built a great product there. Yeah. So we’re we’re happy to use them. And it allows us to integrate the Facebook side and the display side together. Yeah. Are there other favorites we we really love the guys over at Retarder dot com. They’re good friends. AdRoll is great is there a lot of them retargeting sort of you know, like splat and or is there Domino’s and you just find one that you like.
Bronson: Yeah. There you go. What’s the biggest mistake that you see startups make over and over in terms of ad buying? Is there one mistake beyond the obvious? They need the data like you already talked about. Is there any other big mistakes they make?
Max: Yeah. I mean, they they do it for a large branding play. And in most cases, you’re not going to unless you’re just doing retargeting, not going to get the tech brand that you want with the customers, with the budget that they set out. Mm hmm. You know, when you see when you see a company doing a large brand play, they’re spending millions upon millions of dollars a month on display advertising. So startups, I don’t feel our direct response focused enough where they’re setting our cost per acquisition for their user. So the only way to meet those goals, they say, Oh, I should show up on TechCrunch, I should buy something there, or I should show or I should show up on this really exciting assignment. Maybe give me a terrible return on investment. Mm hmm. For us, especially as cell phone and startup, it’s all about profitable growth. So how do we find the correct channels that may not may not necessarily, you know, do the most of your bread and butter, but really present you with great users?
Bronson: Absolutely. So don’t try to just get your name out there. Don’t try to build a brand. You can’t afford to go direct response, get something out of it, get an email address, get a sale, get a landing page, get on converted, that kind of thing.
Max: Start a start. Start a conversation. Don’t just say, you know, we’re here. And for some, start, that works, you know? Mm hmm. You you start to see ads and you start to see, you know, square our squares square. And then you see them, you know, they start popping up everywhere. Yeah. But there are also tons of people that spend money on untargeted advertising. Yeah. With the proper tracking and without the proper metrics behind it that lose a ton of money. So you have to attract them when you’re when you’re doing all this. You have to have a clear conversion metrics and you have to actually follow through and work towards optimizing. Yeah.
Bronson: And a company like Square has Jack Dorsey behind them, which you probably don’t. So he already has a brand that’s let it be known everywhere.
Max: But the point is, don’t just spray and pray. Don’t just, you know, say, I’m just throw it up here. And I hope that this works. You know, even if it’s not hard to take some data and leverage against it.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Let me ask you this. You obviously gravitate toward ads. You like ads? You wouldn’t start. What runs away or if you didn’t feel some connection with them? Do you think that any growth strategy can outperform ads, SEO, social? And obviously, again, the devil’s in the details.
Max: On all.
Bronson: Walking out outperforming, huh?
Max: No, and that’s that’s not true. But it really depends. I mean, I’ve been I’ve been in the online advertising business. I was 15 years old. So I’ve been doing this for a fair amount of time. Yeah. But an ad is like being able to talk to an adult. People talk so much. But for us, for example, we didn’t start advertising our own company. We’re an advertising company for the first year and a half.
Bronson: Mm hmm.
Max: So we built our whole world based on social interaction. We bet we didn’t even knew how much social media, what was just about industry outreach. It was about building great product and being involved in engaged and doing training events, webinars, you know, really just, you know, trying and trying. You know, I would die. I would die to get a customer. I still, you know, every customer is important and you look at them that way. Yeah. There’s no delusions of grandeur. You know, if I have to get on my knees and beg to get this customer, I and get on my knees and beg, and eventually we’re going to get to customers through customers 20 to 30 or 30 or turn to 300, you know, and I’ll keep them there and then eventually get to a point where you should be retargeting from day one, you know, and we didn’t do that. So that that was a bit of an untruth earlier. Yeah, but. Besides that, we didn’t start to even buy display media or Facebook media or anything until a year and a half until where we’re done. Advertising gives another growth channel. So once you have your business set up and your metric established, you can have as good as another growth channel. Yeah, I feel it’s the same way with social. You should be doing social since day one, but you can really ramp that up.
Bronson: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So you talked about early on how you got your new user acquisitions. What are your primary channels now? Where do you see most of your new users coming from, from ads, from social word of mouth?
Max: It’s a it’s a it’s a huge it’s a huge mix. We do a lot of press. We do we have a lot of word of mouth, a lot of search and SEO come in, a lot of ads. I mean, it’s a huge mix, you know, yeah, we have a couple of different departments that do nothing but user acquisition between marketing and sales, and that support does a bit of it as well.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s right. Well, let me give you a chance to kind of give back to the community. There’s a lot of 15 year old Max is sitting out there trying to figure out what to do next.
Max: I hope not. The world is going to be in trouble. There are people in there.
Bronson: Well, maybe there’s not too many, but there’s a few. 15 year old Max is out there watching this and they’re trying to figure out how do you learn this stuff? Because obviously I asked you these questions and it’s second nature to you. You know, these answers. You don’t have to think about them. These ideas are just they’re within you at this point. But how do you get to where they’re within you? What did you go through? What was your development process to where you can give this kind of interview?
Max: Well, I mean, the first step is to just do it. You know, Nike has a great slogan because I do I believe in learning by doing so if you get your hands dirty. I learned a lot quicker. Mm hmm. You know, and sometimes that’s definitely detrimental. I lost a bit of my doing that. I took a chunk out of my life, and I was chopping wood for the second time in my life and put I into my, like, once, like, you know. And that’s actually a true story. I started through it, but, but, you know, blurring, you know, sometimes you fall, but it’s just about how you get up and how you how you move forward. And then the other bit of it is mentorship. So it’s about reaching out to other people, other successful people, and say, Hey, do you mind taking some time talking to me? Yeah, I would talk to people that are in fields nowhere related to mine. Yeah. And if anything’s interesting to me, any business person is interesting to me because I can take that and make parallels with my own company in my own business. Yeah. So I to talk to you and say, you know what? What’s your biggest learning experience? I can bring that back and sort of try to apply that to my business or just a hunt for knowledge and a hunt for, you know, expertize. And you’d be surprised how responsive people are, especially if you say, you know, I’m, you know, I’m a startup, I’m new. I just need to find metrics for you to bring back some advice. Yeah. And combine it. Combine that with your practical experience and assuming that you’re driven enough will be successful.
Bronson: Yeah, well, that’s exactly what’s happened today. We reach out to you, say, hey, you want to come on our program? You don’t know me personally, and here you are giving me your time. Open it up. Kind of your knowledge for me, just because I was willing to ask and I’m willing to be humble and learn from somebody. So it does work. You mentioned just doing stuff, trying stuff. The Nike slogan. Well, what do they try, though? That’s the question. What they’re going to have, because they’re they’re the 50 year old. Do you they don’t even know what to try yet. So what do you.
Max: How do you start a business at this point? You have so much information, you do a little bit of reading. Mm hmm. And then you just. You think you find out what you think is right, and then you find out what you think is wrong very, very quickly. And but but again, as soon as you ask for help, you’ll be able to you’ll be able to avoid some of those mistakes. And you’ll also be able to find a great starting place. Mm hmm. You know, when. When I started, I had no clue what I was doing. What I. I put out my first campaign and asked, you know, a little bit of money and, you know.
Bronson: What did you start with? What was your first campaign or one of the early ones? Well, I don’t remember.
Max: I can tell you I got one of the first things that I got banned from AdSense when I was like 14. Because I put I put up or I put up a website. Mm hmm. And and and it was a website about, you know, this video game they really liked. And I quote, The World Champions Match. And I was like, Hey, Mom, Dad said, look, I have this. I get paid money with my ad. So everybody came to my website and it click on my ads because we maximized fan two days later. AdSense. Learning experience in there.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Max, you’ve you’ve given us a lot of great advice. You’re obviously a wealth of knowledge is a reason why what one what runs where is doing as well as it is because guys like you were a part of it. So Max, thank you so much for for coming on growth after TV.
Max: My pleasure.
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