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Kean is the Founder & CEO of MonetizeMore. He started MonetizeMore in 2010 with the goal to build a bootstrap business that would dramatically increase ad revenues for publishers. Over the years, Kean has perfected the proprietary MonetizeMore ad optimization model and now increases ad revenues for hundreds of publisher networks in over 40 countries. 

He is a pioneer in ad optimization covering areas like Adsense/AdX, GAM, header bidding and ad network optimization. Kean has always believed in empowering publishers to increase their ad revenues more efficiently and effectively via articlesvideos and technology.

  • GN

    Gustavo Nunes

    26 days ago #

    Hey, Kean. Nice to have you here!

    1) How did you come up with this idea and what do you think makes your company stand out on this segment?
    2) With +100 full-time team members remotely based, how do you exercise leadership?
    3) What are your bets for this year about the ad tech industry?

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      1) I originally fell in love with the online industry when working for a large online classified network. The job was an immense learning experience but once the recession hit, the company decided to lay off the marketing department. I lost the best job I ever had but I was determined to turn the bad into something great.
       
      Five days later, I'm on a plane to South America to go on a life changing trip. Four months into my backpacking trip I was on a four-day trek through the incredible Inca trail towards Machu Picchu. By the end of it, I was sitting on top of Wayna Picchu reflecting on my experiences throughout my trip. I have had the most fulfilling time of my life and it finally clicked:
       
      I will work and travel when I want, where I want.
       
      I have to start a digital business to enable this autonomous lifestyle. When I came back to Canada I was set to build my skills and come up with my big business idea. To do this, I made websites and tried out affiliate marketing. I grew important digital marketing and basic coding skills to bolster my capabilities and come up with that big idea.

      A big reason for my early success was that I was malleable in that we focused on results and less about the internal business early on. My goal was to achieve measurable revenue increases for businesses. This was originally going to be achieved by the below offerings:

      - SEO
      - Social media optimization
      - Analytics consultation
      - Ad inventory optimization
      - Customer usage model optimization

      I quickly found out that the greatest opportunity to grow measurable revenues was via ad inventory optimization. Rather than sticking with all offerings I focused on the offering that got the best results and only targeted online businesses that earned revenues via display advertising.

      In ad tech, the below traits set MonetizeMore apart from our competitors:
      - Remote first: Location independence is rare in ad tech which gives us a competitive advantage in hiring and tailouring to international publishers.
      - Long-term focus: Most ad tech companies are focused on the short-term. We focus on long-term win-wins with publishers and the tech we build.
      - Customization: Most of our competitors force publishers to use their tech, ad server and accounts. We are flexible and allow for ad inventory ownership as this is higher value to publishers.

      4 Share
      • KG

        Kean Graham

        16 days ago #

        Below are the three most important leadership traits when running a remote team that we have excelled in:

        1. Authenticity: Never delegate tasks that you wouldn't do yourself. An authentic leader leads by example and not by orders. An authentic leadership company culture is empowered by the same work lifestyle that the founder has enabled for him or herself. Authentic leadership in the tech industry requires disruption via innovation that has never been explored before.

        2. Data Driven: This is a trait that is more commonly possessed today by great leaders vs. decades before thanks to technology and richer data. A strong leader knows about the potential of bias in decisions including him/herself. That is why all important key performance indicators (KPIs) must be tracked and leveraged when making decisions or giving feedback. KPI numbers are the best way to tell an unbiased story.

        3. Great Communicator: Active listening is the fastest way to become an effective leader because it not only improves communication with your team members, it accelerates your growth as a leader. Active listening increases respect for you as a leader and allows you to understand what you need to do to become a more effective leader.

        1 Share
    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      3. Connected TV is going to achieve huge growth this year. Expect more consolidation like we've seen with Rubicon so far this year. Other countries will follow suit with GDPR-esque regulations forcing publishers to stop ignoring the need to run a consent management platform like the one we offer: PubGuru DataGuard

  • BG

    Brandon Gains

    22 days ago #

    Hey all!
    I'm excited to be back with the GrowthHackers community this week! A few of you in the GH community may remember me from my time running the marketing for SaaSquatch. I've been working with Kean & the MonetizeMore team for the past 2.5 years and it's been incredible. We're celebrating our 10th year in business this year and we have many new exciting projects in the pipeline. I've been in this leadership role managing a full stack marketing engine with a full-time team of marketing specialists, product designers and web developers from across the globe.

    A few highlights:
    PubGuru.com - our ad operations platform
    https://www.pubguru.com

    PubGuru Ad Inspector - our Chrome Extension
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pubguru-ad-inspector/nnoilpdinmjmdfpkdkbbkajejflbkoma

    PubGuru University - our Ad Ops training school
    https://university.pubguru.com/

    Traffic Cop - our Invalid Traffic Detection & Blocking solution
    https://www.monetizemore.com/solutions/traffic-cop/

  • AB

    Aristide Basque

    30 days ago #

    For which type of companies would you say monetizemore works best? What would qualify those companies?

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      Ad monetized publishers that are hungry to grow their business! If that is their #1 priority than fear of change tends to be minuscule compared to that priority. This is key because in order to increase ad revenues while maintaining strong UX, sometimes uncomfortable change is necessary.

      Large and sophisticated publishers with over 100M pageviews per months and 8-figure programmatic ad revenues per year are ideal fit for MonetizeMore. We specialize in more sophisticated publishers while our competitors are a better fit with smaller websites.

      For our Premium Publisher offering, we require a minimum of 20M pageviews per month.

      1 Share
  • MV

    Milos Vujnovic

    18 days ago #

    Hi Kean, excited to hear your thoughts!

    1. What would you say that was the biggest challenge in managing a remote team?
    2. Which software tools do you utilize for project management?
    3. From your experience with MonetizeMore - what would be your number one advice for a bootstrapped SaaS to achieve initial users?

    Thank you!

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      1. Below are the two biggest challenges:

      - We had decided to hire candidates that have worked in offices for many years a few times. They had great experience and results in an office atmosphere but this did not translate to a virtual setup. Some people do not have the self motivation to work alone. If a team member needs external pressure/direction from a boss in the same office, they will never perform well in a virtual environment.

      - Picking up on bad apples is more difficult in a virtual office. We have noticed early on that they tend to be unreliable, make excuses and use avoidance when faced with important questions. We have proactively improved our practices so that we watch out for this during the interview process and we require case studies and certifications before being hired. This gives the candidate many opportunities to miss deadlines and exhibit traits that are against our company culture.

      2. Below are the most common tools we use:

      Slack: Used for one-to-many communications
       
      Google Drive: For all collaborative docs. 
       
      Jira & Pivotal: Manage the developer and ad optimization teams' collaboration and priority lists
       
      Skype: Used to contact people immediately and for voice chats. 
       
      Trello: Manage projects and deadlines

      InVision: Used for product-led projects on the design side.

      3. Find the online communities of your target audience. Start answering their questions. If your SAAS has product market fit, then it is solving their pain points which tend to come out within online communities like Quora, forums and Reddit. This is a great place to have high quality 1on1 conversations that will solve their problems with your SAAS and anyone else who has a similar problems that found that post for the same reason.

      We do this on Google Product Forums and are a Top Contributor within the GAM forum as a result. This is one of the ways we empower ad monetized publishers.

      2 Share
  • JR

    JORDANA RAUBER

    16 days ago #

    Hi Kean, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
    1. Could you share with us some of the strategies used to amplify MonetizeMore user base when you first started the business?
    2. What is the main metric for success today, and how has it changed over the years as the company grew?
    3. What are the main challenges faced by publishers who want to monetize their content in 2020? Where are the best opportunities?
    4. How do you see the ads market evolving in the next few years? What technologies do you think will be playing a bigger role?
    5. For people wanting to monetize a small blog, for instance, where would you recommend starting the process or earning money with their pages?

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      1. As a young B2B business, having a small user base was necessary and ideal for the quality of our offering. We amplified our user base by achieving the best results possible. It was just me for the first three years. I walked through walls to increase my publisher partner ad revenues. Through those innovations I was able to perfect the MonetizeMore ad optimization business model.

      2. Our main metrics for success are:

      - Monthly Net Revenues: The best overall metric to gauge the current state of the company within the context of seasonality.

      - Net Growth %: This is calculated by taking New Revenue % - Churn Revenue %. This is the best metric for the growth of the company.

      We used to focus on Net Revenue as the main company metric but we recently introduced Net Growth % last year.

      3. We have identified the below are the biggest problems that ad monetized publisher face and how we solve them:

      - No idea what parts of their publisher business are most profitable: The PubGuru revenue attribution report provide revenue stats for each traffic source so they can decide where to invest in more.

      - Publisher ad inventories tend to break often: PubGuru Ad Inspector crawls their page in real-time and uncovers any ad setup issues and how to fix them.

      - No clue how to increase ad revenues: Custom notifications can be found in PubGuru to specifically recommend what to adjust on their site step-by-step to increase their ad revenues.

      - Unintentional Invalid Traffic: This causes getting banned by ad network accounts like Google and losing all unpaid ad revenues overnight which ruins some publisher business. Traffic Cop, proactively block invalid traffic from viewing or clicking any ads.

      - Being Privacy Regulation (ie. GDPR and CCPA) Compliant With One Tool: Many tools only support one regulation when pubs need to be compliant with many because their traffic comes from all countries. PubGuru DataGuard is compliant with GDPR and CCPA and only requires one implementation.

      4. A big market force in ad tech is ad monetized publishers are becoming more capable. They are becoming more able to run effective in-house ad op teams that can be amplified with relevant ad tech. However, they can't compromise on ad inventory ownership.

      As a result, the all-or-nothing ad tech offerings will eventually disappear. Unbundled ad tech offerings will replace them that will enable publishers to pick and choose the ad tech offerings that best compliment their in-house ad op teams.

      Ad servers like Google Ad Manager (GAM) will continue to dominate. Innovative ad tech that compliments GAM will play a bigger role. Ad tech that amplifies in-house ad ops teams without compromising on control, transparency and performance will thrive.

      5. When starting a blog, start with Google AdSense. There's no need to run a sophisticated ad optimization setup with little traffic and ad revenue. It only makes sense to optimize once you start getting millions of pageviews per month.

      Overall, I'd recommend the below as people grow their blog:

      • Only AdSense: Under 1M pageviews per month
      • GAM setup: 1M pageviews per month
      DoubleClick Ad Exchange vs. managed demand on GAM: 2M pageviews per month
      Header bidding setup within GAM: 10M page views per month

      2 Share
  • BB

    Barbara Bonfim

    16 days ago #

    Hi Kean, thanks for your time and sharing!

    In your opinion, what's the backbone of a truly remote company?
    Also, how to make sure everybody feels welcome and comfortable in a mixed structure (part remote)?

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      I would say culture, without a doubt! As a location independent business, culture is so important. Whenever we make hiring, promotion, or team member review decisions, we always refer to our company culture. It is the backbone of our company and a greater effort needs to be made with a remote team to consistently remind the team of our cultural values and their behaviour should be cognizant of the culture we worked so hard to establish.

      For partially remote companies, it's important that the leaders make an extra effort to involve the remote team members. Sometimes that means broadcasting office events or making sure relevant remote team members are not left out of important discussions. It's also important to offer remote work to all team members, otherwise resentment could seep in for those that aren't allowed.

      3 Share
  • KG

    Kean Graham

    16 days ago #

    Thanks for all the thought provoking questions guys! I'll be back later to answer any additional questions :)

  • MP

    Magnum PubgLite

    17 days ago #

    Hi! Kean, I am a 16 year old boy. I am thinking of starting a startup named Mavedamic ( for those who dare to focus more on learning what they love rather than colliding themselves within the usual academic curriculum). The word Mavedamic is made of two words - Maverick + Academic .
    My startup would be really simple, it will be an app or website based service that would provide free videos and motivation to the aspiring young entrepreneur or unconventional people, the videos would be embedded from other sources like YouTube , etc.
    We won't create videos and will be a platform for providing them the personalised experience of choosing their own respective field. They will also get certificates and further assistance in their career. Later on, we will go for subscription based ( normally 5$ a year) as our motive would be non-profit and price taken would be necessary to continue the services.
    Please help me with it and validate and edit if anything necessary in the idea.
    I came with this because I am one of those unprivileged who are facing barriers in doing what they love by a thing called ' academic barrier' and believe people need know we need a change in academic structure.
    Hope you answer my questions and guide me.
    Thank you!
    PS: I am from India where only focus is given on academic and eventually people pursue their career in doing jobs they don't like. There is lack of entrepreneurial mindset and this is why our country is lacking economic development and even good employment opportunities as there are only job seekers not job givers.

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      16 days ago #

      It is exciting to see you are entrepreneurial at such a young age. Remember, persistence is one of the most important traits to success as an entrepreneur. Not necessarily on your first idea but to create value in an industry to build a sustainable business by iterating your business model to achieve a strong product market fit.

      There is a lot of opportunity in the online education field. However, there's also a lot of competition. That is why it's important to niche up. You have definitely identified an important problem that needs to be better solved, however, the target audience is too large. By targeting everyone, you target no one.

      I would recommend to find an education niche that you're interested in that is not well served. Niche down as much as you can and build from there. For example, you could build courses to teach woodworking for kids, financial tech tools for seniors or clarinet lessons for teens. There are so many niche courses that you could build that aren't available today.

      I'd also recommend to charge from the start. There's a negative effect on price perception when offering things for free. People assume quality is tied to price. So if you offer it for free, users won't tend to take it seriously. Having them commit financially is an important step towards having them commit to finishing the course and gain the important knowledge and skills. You can still offer free trials and teasers for free but at least have a freemium offering.

      I wish you the best of luck!

      PS. I've traveled through India and I am very impressed with the new generation. I saw a big difference between the new and older generations. The entrepreneurial spirit and tendency to think big is strong in the new generation in India. I'm excited to see what new successes come out of India in the years to come :)

  • SA

    Stoica Alexandru

    16 days ago #

    Hello, Kean

    From your pov, whats the qucikest/cheapest way to grow from 0 to first 10-20 customers?

    • KG

      Kean Graham

      15 days ago #

      Since we have always been a bootstrap company, we have always thought lean like this. Below are the top low cost marketing initiatives with the highest ROI in terms of getting new customers:

      - Genuinely Answer Questions: We answer ad optimization related questions on Google Product Forums, Quora, Twitter and Reddit. We have found that this enables positive interactivity with sub-communities, establishes us as authorities and drives many qualified leads.

      - Compelling Shareability: Come up with clever ways for your users to share your content or products. For example, within PubGuru Ad Inspector (PGAI), we've built sharing functionality so it's easy for users to share the data that PGAI within forums when they're trying to solve their ad inventory issues. This will help them resolve their problems quicker and will also show any users viewing that forum post the power of PGAI. All of a sudden, the PGAI users have become advocates in a very scalable way.

      Strategic Partnerships: If your blog post is unique and useful enough, you can get other sites to refer their users to it. The typical way is via email outreach, however, this can be done via PR, going on podcasts or finding companies that have an audience that need the info that your blog provides. We have successfully setup partnership with companies like Google and WP Engine which have sent valuable traffic on a consistent basis.

      Each of these are relevant to companies trying to get their first 20 customers. They are easy on the cash flow and can have incredible returns!

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