660: How This Ad Tech Company is Thriving When Others Are Flailing w/ Eric Berry

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Eric Berry, CEO of TripleLift.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

A relationship with the right referral partner could be a game changer for any Bob Company. So what if you could reverse engineer these relationships at a moment's notice, start a podcast, invite potential referral partners to be guests on your show and grow your referral network faster than ever? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with Eric Barry. He is the CEO of triple lift. Eric, how you doing today? Great, thanks for having me on. I'm excited to ch out with you today. Eric. We're going to be talking a lot about the triple lift growth story and some things that you're currently doing to operate the company. With you guys, being an Ad Tech Company in the landscape that's there. I think it's it'll be interesting for listeners to hear of how you're navigating those waters. But before we dive into that a bit, I'd love for you to explain your listeners. What is triple lift? What are you guys all about up there? Sure so triple if we're six and a half year old company based in New York City with nearly two hundred employees spread around town offices across the world. When we were started in Jen of two thousand and twelve, we basically we came out of a nexus which was a leading our TV or real time bidding based programmatic platform and we really loved what they were doing on a valuing ad impressions on a per user per impression basis to try to get the best outcomes for marketers across to the Web and programmatic is involved a lot. But really what we thought was the technology around valuing ad impressions is great, but the...

...underlying thing that was being bought and sold banner as was not great. We didn't think the format was particularly compelling and we didn't think it was the way of the future. And at that time, January two thousand and twelve, well, we saw with this whole crop of new platforms that were coming out and getting amazing traction with consumers. So we saw Tumbler and instagram and Pinterest, we're really blowing up and you know, we thought it would be crazy for platforms like this or the rest of the web, which was going in a very similar direction of very visual consumer focus direction, to monetize with stanner ads. And so we set back and for the course of most of two thousand and twelve we really thought about, you know, what are the different directions of consumer behavior? Where's consumer content, consumption going, and how is it going to be monetized? And what are you going to be the challenges of monetizing that in an effective fashion? And at the end of basically a full year of thinking about this problem, we realize that we needed to and even in talking of publishers, what they were looking for was monetization solutions that were not forced down their throat but that were actually conducive to the user experience that they're trying to create. So these great visual, highly interactive but fast and not flashing a blinking user experiences. The challenge, of course, is a how can you make that scale ble if there's a thousand different APPS and sites and whatever that a marketer wants to buy on and they all require different looks and fields, then it's going to be really tough for a marketer to buy, especially over programmatic pipes, through a demand fie platform or DSP. And so that we thought was a fantastically interesting problem in one that actually delivered a lot of value to the ecosystem. It deliver value to users because they would have better ad experiences to publishers because they get better overall experiences where marketers could tell better stories without resorting to flashing a blinking and so we created technology...

...where the BYSIDE, through the demand side platforms, could bid using a specification of assets, so an image capturing quick through heading instead of like a banner Ad Tag, and it would dynamically transform those assets to meet the unique look and feel or characteristics of the thousands of publishers that we worked with. And so in order to make that happen, we had to build all these inhalf technologies like computer vision that would understand what people were bidding with and and make it so that the marketers who use these assets had comfort that in all the different contexts where they be rendered, based on the publisher looking fuel as opposed to, you know, controlling their own attack, controlling their own banner. At that everything would look great no matter what, and it would be rendered in real time, in less than a hundred milliseconds, and so that's a really hard challenge. We had to raise venture funding to scale that business, to make it to a point where, you know, we could actually handle the billions of requests that an a tech platform needs to handle. And and so we did. Over the course of over two thousand and thirteen we raised a few million dollars. We've builked it out and we really embrace the mantra of creating effective user centric publisher monetization wherever users consume content. And you know, over the next few years we really scaled out the business from two thousand fourteen when we live, to last year, you know, where we're nearly two hundred people. The industries really taken a taking a great liking to programatic name of advertising, which is what we do and in Efact, the easiest way to think about it is, you know, facebook's add experience is this integrated add experience that's part of the fabric of the page, just like Instagram, and we create that same sort of experience for the rest of the web and AP ecosystem in a seamless way. Love it. So I want to I want to dive in Eric to it more of the triple lift story in terms of kind of the growth that you guys have experienced. You were you...

...were number one hundred and sixty three on the ink five hundred list this past year on the crane's fast fifty, coming in at number twelve. You're on a crane's best places to work in New York City the last three years. So clearly you guys are doing some incredible things in terms of growth while maintaining amazing culture in that growth. What were some of the elements things that you guys did right along the way to get to where you guys are today? Yeah, I think that's that's a great question and I think you know, being an a tech company and being a company in the sort of current venture environment and a competitive market like New York, there's a lot of things to think about. And so you know New York is a that's where HQ is and maybe two thirds of our employees and so you know it's competitive in terms of salary, in terms of expectations are on benefits and the like, which means it's expensive to hire people here and if you're trying to run a possible business, that's makes it harder. And then there's a question of add tick and and attack is you know, it's it's an interesting field because, on the one hand, people spend money in attic so unlike consumer businesses, where you're sort of forced to get to critical scale before you can even begin to think about monetizing, people are happy to spend the money. Like customers will work with you if you deliver real value, and we have K study after case study where we do deliver real value. But it meant that we had to be on the flip side. is at tech is like not the most favorite space for investors right now. So you know, the public market companies have not done particularly well and that sort of cast and negative overhang on the ecosystem. And it is what it is. You know, we're fairly confident that it's a cyclical thing and so we need to run our business effectively to emerge a successful, sustainable business. And so really the way we think about...

...our business at the end of the day is they have a mission effective, user centric publisher monetization wherever uses consumed content. We believe that that's the right way for simply a company to exist, which is like we think our mission is a good mission and that people and brands and publishers and users like that mission. And so as long as we deliver valuable products, moving a good situation. But we can't be reckless. So, unlike a lot of BC back companies, and we are vc back company, the VC market is not super hot for attack right now. So we need to be very thoughtful around our planning process, around our expenses, around our hires and what delivers are alig and what does not, much more so than a standard vc back company that is really focused primarily on overall growth of their business. Like how do we simply get the highest x metric that's going to get the next VC investor to invest in our business? One that's not necessarily attractive if you're like the media is kind of spun this notion of raising big rounds of funding as a positive. But if you're a company, that means you have investors that own your company and they've just taken your stake and they control a lot of the activities that you can do and you know, like in uvers case, they can fire the CEO. So we want to run a business that's the sustainable, profitable, thoughtful business that's also flexible around where the ecosystem is going. And so we spend an awful lot of time every every year, of course, like building a really robust model. It's around not just like the general lines of business, but within those lines of business, the different drivers of growth, the different like subways to think about. You know what's driving that line of business and the different margins that may be associated with a different pieces...

...that are parts of that line of business. And then what are the people at the company that have different Roy effects on those current lines of business, and then what are the effects that they might have eighteen and twenty four months out? And their assumptions always but we try to base them on some sort of reality and then we build fairly rigorous models that we believe are very explicit on what those assumptions are. And every single month we meet and we continually refine the plan for the year based on how we're attaining relative to the expectations for our plan. And so you know, if x line of business or why line of businesses under or over performing, then we will change our hiring models or investment in marketing or investment in Tenne accordingly, based on, you know what, whatever's happening. So if we realize that investing in ten he's having an outsize impact on sales, then you know, we should continue to invest in increase our investment and we should do it as quickly as we can. And so it takes a lot of vigilance to run a business like that and it's a lot harder than kind of just running in assuming your business will eventually get funded again. And how often did you guys say that? Or did you say that? You guys are are looking at that is you say twice a year, every month, okay, every month least, at least every month. And and that's you, you and your entire executive team. or WHO's involved in those conversations? Yeah, that's the entire executive team. Well, and in doing that it's really it's forcing you guys to operate the company. So that is it is incredibly effective in a space where, you know, there are a lot of companies struggling. Are there any other that? That being a very tangible takeaway, I think just the those those monthly meetings that you're doing assessing and what's working, what's not working, and then and then a justing your spin accordingly. Are there? Are there other things...

...that you guys are doing that you feel like have allowed you guys to experience the success that you're experiencing now? Yeah, I mean, I think something is like it's being realistic, and so you know, a lot of companies operate with margins that are not sustainable and they will the wily coyote or something where they kind of like run and then they run off the cliff and they realize there's no more cliff underneath them and they fall down. And you know that's happened. That happened to a lot of the ad tech companies that went public, which is one of the reasons that add tech is suffering from the negative overhang that I mentioned, and and that's because they didn't have like a sense of propriety or just like a reasonable outlook. And so you need to make a determination about your business, about what the ultimate right way to be running that businesses and have it passed to be getting there. And if you don't, if you're not, like there are things like like margin and in expenses and marketing expences and ten allocations that that are the right things in our industry, standards and the like, and if you're not hitting those, if you're an outlier and you're not being careful about it and you're not coming up with a plan to like resume normalcy within the sort of bounds of what you should the way you should be operating, your business will not be successful. And so it's okay too like this tolerances that you can be geed from and even if you're too far out of the tolerance, you have to have a path to get back to where you need to get to, and so that's been really important for us. Love it. I also want to touch on the fact are that not only are you guys, you guys, are growing like crazy, but you're doing so well, also being one of the best places to work in New York City, which I think is a really impressive feet. What would you say have been the most critical things that you guys have done to to maintain a culture that that keeps people around and and and...

...and allows you guys to recruit great talent and then keep that talent working for you guys and loving working for you guys. Yeah, I mean I think you know we have a we have a clear mission, which I've mentioned a few times, and we certainly make that abundantly obvious in the hiring process. We we have values that we've clearly articulated. These are company values that are not like a customers always ride or whatever, but our behaviors. So we took this this exercise, or did this exercise a few years ago where we considered, you know, triple lift is in a complex, dynamic ecosystem, so we don't necessarily know exactly what we're going to do five, ten years from now, but we'll have a vague sense of it. And so if we think about triple with as a success case and triple with as a failure case, what are the behaviors of the employees that led us to both of those outcomes, understanding that there are certain things outside of those that could also have contributed, but we really thought about we thought about the behaviors that were particular to our industry and to what we're trying to do to be successful, and we isolated those and there was a long, difficult, contentious set of conversations. Was Not just founders but people that we thought were the highest performers in the business and those became the base of our company values, and so every single higher is graded on company values and how they index against those company values. And so we hire people that are really good fit for what we're trying to do, that care about our mission, that live the TRIPOLIS values, at least implicitly, if not explicitly once they join. And you know, we also try to make it a comfortable place to work. So once we've found these people that are the right people for us. You know, it's the things that make people happy are, you know, autonomy, accountability for what they do, ownership for their work, not necessarily like paying them...

...the most, and a lot of studies show that the value that people get with with their work and how much they appreciate it is only loosely at best correlated with their compensation and more is with like their ownership, that trust, the responsibility, and so these the things that we really try to index highly on. Eric, this is this has been a really, really helpful I appreciate you sharing your growth story how you guys have gotten to where you are. If there's somebody listening to this they want to stay connected with you or they want to learn more about triple lift. What's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yeah, I mean you can follow me on twitter, even very eat the ferry. You can reach out triple liftcom. So I look forward to meeting anyone that might want to reach out. Awesome, Eric, will thank you again so much for your time. This has been fantastic, so I really appreciate it right thanks. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the BEDB growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners, and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, we'll talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner in a city near you, go to V to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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