KEAN GRAHAM: Founder & CEO, MonetizeMore

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Bio:

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. Kean is an avid sport enthusiast and an even more passionate guy about traveling. He lives his dream of traveling the world and growing MonetizeMore. Kean believes that everyone on the MonetizeMore team should have location and time freedom. This means each team member has the ability to set their own schedules and work from anywhere in the world. This is the lifestyle Kean has created for himself and he believes each team member deserves a similar work lifestyle.

How did you get into the industry?

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 Huayna 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. Seven months later I started the digital business called MonetizeMore and I signed my old employer as my first client. They were still in tough financial times when I signed them. I convinced them by charging a percentage of the increased ad revenues so I would charge nothing if I didn't increase their ad revenues. It took a little under a month to close them and that was our first success story. We made them additional millions and pioneered the business model which we use for websites around the world.

Any emerging industry trends?

The ad technology industry is in a bit of a mid-life crisis. Many ad tech companies get away with the fancy marketing and lackluster tech. The fact is there is still a lot of money to be made in the ad tech industry so companies can get away with minimal value propositions and faulty tech. The fat is yet to be cut in the ad tech industry.

People are down on ad tech because the industry is a bit of a mess. There are many layers within the ad delivery pipe and many middle-men ad networks that provide little to no value. This just adds to complexity and decreases innovation. This is happening because publishers are still accepting these underwhelming ad networks that have all the same sources of demand and no unique demand of their own. They add little to no additional value to publishers while earning a revenue share for as long as possible.

This means the ad tech industry is bloated and more complex as a result. There is a new form of serving ads called header bidding. It has automated the management of ads for publishers and allowed the advertisers to compete for more impressions in a more efficient auction dynamic. This trending innovation in the industry has already re-shuffled several companies in the ad tech industry.

With most mid-life crises, the sports car eventually gets sold and hopefully lessons are learned. This ad tech mid-life crisis will end once the majority of ad networks that do not adapt to the new trends and offer more value will be victim to the consolidation of the market.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Header bidding and variations of header bidding is the greatest opportunity in the ad tech industry. Many publishers have had a difficult time implementing and managing header bid technology. The ones that have been successful have implemented header bidding in a suboptimal fashion and have lost $10,000s per month.

The opportunity lies in building tools to help publishers:

- Streamline header bidding implementation

- Have access to optimal and versatile header bid tech

- Get unified reporting for header bid revenue sources

- Get access to diagnostic tools to better manage and optimize header bid setups

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

MonetizeMore is establishing itself as the Moz.com of the ad tech industry. Where Moz cultivated and empowered a community of webmasters to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) via content, support and technology, MonetizeMore has been doing the same within the ad tech industry. The ad tech industry has had a similar evolution as the SEO industry but is about 10 years behind. MonetizeMore has been empowering publishers via blog, video, webinar, social media content as well as online community outreach. PubGuru is a tool developed by MonetizeMore to enable publishers to optimize their ad inventories in-house with features such as:

•    Unified reporting: No more copy and pasting to spreadsheets!

•    Discrepancy reports: Be the first to know when ad networks are showing blank ads

•    Header bid ad server: Get access to a header bid control center to optimize on the fly

•    DFP wizard: Implement DFP in a tenth of the time

•    Free optimization tools: Ad speed optimization, ad block stats, block malvertising and more

With each new day, MonetizeMore further establishes itself as the thought leader in ad optimization. Publishers can outsource their ad optimization to MonetizeMore or utilize complimentary content and technology to get similar results in-house similar to what Moz did 10 years ago.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

PubGuru is the future focus of MonetizeMore. As ad optimization becomes more common within publisher companies, PubGuru will become more of a common tool those teams will use. Below are some future features that will be available on PubGuru:

•    Tool to A/B test PubGuru header bidding tech vs. the publisher’s current ad stack

•    Layout optimization tool to conduct multivariate testing on highest performing ad placements

•    Simple setup of one line of JavaScript implemented in the header of each page

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We re-invest our profits by purchasing other publisher businesses that earn the majority of their revenues from display ads. After we purchase the business, we apply our technology and ad optimization practices to dramatically increase the ad revenues. We are then able to earn 100% of the ad revenue increase rather than a portion. As a result, this has been a very successful investment strategy for us since we consistently increase ad revenues with each newly acquired site.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

Since the beginning of 2013, we had a partnership with Google where we had the keys to their most powerful advertising platform for display advertising demand for publishers. It was exclusive to very large websites or partners like MonetizeMore. As a result, we received a lot of demand from publishers to become a client and get access to the best performance ad exchange in the industry. This partnership dramatically grew our business.

In January 2013, our largest client received a spam attack. One of their competitors sent a plethora of traffic that were meant to click on their ads multiple times with the purpose of getting them banned on Google. They were successful because this publisher was getting huge amounts of traffic and they sent such a huge attack that it created an investigation on our master account with Google. About three weeks later, that investigation resulted in a whole master account ban. When you’re banned by Google, that means that they revoke all unpaid ad revenues. The unpaid ad revenues were all our revenues for December and January. That was the highest gross revenue months we’ve ever had. $2.2 million and 99% of our revenue for those months were revoked.

Since then we bounced back via injection of personal funds into the business to make sure everyone was still paid. We learned from this by implementing the below:

- Fraud traffic detection and suppression

- Very stringent site screening

- Diversification of our revenue streams

As a result, we have grown the business sustainably and we've never been stronger. We also were able to strengthen our partnership with Google to become a Google AdSense Certified Partner.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Below are the greatest benefits from using MonetizeMore in order of importance:

•    Increased RPMs (Revenue per thousand impressions) and ad revenues

•    Full management of ad optimization so publishers can re-focus on their core competencies

•    Ad and traffic quality management

•    Unified ad revenue reporting

How do you motivate others?

In November 2015, we implemented a key performance indicator (KPI) system within each department with the following color system:

Green: Exceptional!

Blue: Great

Yellow: Room for improvement

Red: Terrible

This color determines the performance of each team on a daily basis. The KPIs range from project duration, to ad revenue increase to client or candidate leads. The KPI per team is the most important quantifiable measure of the whole team's performance.

The green KPI range is the best score and the red KPI range is the worst. If the team hits yellow they must discuss internally how to improve the KPI score and if it's red they have to urgently make changes to improve the score for the next day.

Since implementing this KPI system in November, company performance has dramatically improved. We've seen great collaboration within teams, more innovative thinking, greater work ethic and improved morale with the increased transparency and being part of a team that is working towards a clear and common goal. The KPI system has been one of our best implementations for 2015 and works especially well for remote teams.

Career advice to those in your industry?

I have learned an incredible amount during my 7.5 years of running MonetizeMore. If I were to sum up the most useful advice I could give anyone who would like to advance their career, I would give them the below advice:

1.    Ask Why: People who are not satisfied with 'how' or 'what' tend to be rising stars in their companies. They have a yearning to know 'why' and need to have a deeper understanding which tend to frustrate the underachievers.

2.    Deny the Status Quo: People that question and get frustrated by the status quo tend to take this as fire to make a difference via their own initiative. They tend to hate the answer, "Because that's the way it is."

3.    Do More: Most people are content with doing the minimum. The future leaders want to make a difference. They tend to be involved in extra-curricular activities, take interest in side projects and some even start a business at an early age.

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