Last Updated on November 16, 2020
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About Kean Graham
Kean Graham is the CEO of MonetizeMore, an 8-figure ad tech company that is a Google Certified Partner with 100+ full-time team members remotely based across the planet. MonetizeMore was conceived in the mountains of Machu Picchu and has grown to $23M in revenues. Graham has traveled to over 90 countries during the 10 years that he has been growing MonetizeMore.
I originally fell in love with the digital 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. Seven months later I started the digital business called MonetizeMore which now offers this autonomous lifestyle to every member of our team.
How did you get your first several customers or users? How many users or customers do you have now?
The business has been bootstrapped since day one. It was just me starting the business so my greatest startup costs were my personal costs since my time was the greatest input. I created and launched the first version of MonetizeMore on WordPress.
The first client was a huge success and a great initial testimonial, however, getting that second client was quite tricky. My offer to dramatically increase their ad revenues was met with skepticism. Many thought it could have been a fluke. After a couple years, PennySaverUSA.com took a risk on me.
I had a chance to prove out my business model on a new site in a different country with different traffic. Thankfully, I was able to prove out the business model again in a big way by increasing their RPMs by over 300%. They were very happy and this second testimonial was a catalyst to attaining new premium publisher clients.
Thanks to all this marketing we now have over 300 publisher network customers that run 1000s of domains.
How does your company grow and acquire new customers?
Content marketing and paid content are huge for a B2B business like MonetizeMore. We have spent a lot of resources on content marketing for over 10 years and we are a leader in our industry because of it. We get hundreds of organic leads every month while our competitors have to rely on AdWords and spam email campaigns to get new leads. As a result, our lead quality is much higher and has greater intent.
Below are the top 3 marketing tactics that have worked well for us:
- 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 leads.
- Round-up Posts: A well-executed round-up post based on trending topics in our industry has gotten a lot of views, shares and attention from the most influential players. The extra time it takes to create a round-up post has provided a much greater return versus normal blog posts.
- Strategic Partnerships: We have partnered with several other companies that have complimentary offerings. As a result, we refer each other clients. We have received our highest quality leads via this channel.
PR has also been a really successful marketing channel. Below are the top 3 sources of our PR success:
- HARO: An incredible tool to reach reporters that are interested in writing about your business or expertise.
- Networking: Meet these reporters in-person, offer to get on calls with them to disclose all the latest trends in your industry and share and comment on their articles to keep top of mind.
- Guest Articles: Send proposals for them to publish your guest article that is relevant to their audience, is not self-promotional and is about an interesting trending topic from a unique perspective.
What actionable tips and tricks do you have for new founders who are looking to get their first thousand users or dollars?
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:
- 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. It was this early pivot that enabled MonetizeMore to perfect the ad optimization model that has made additional millions in profits for clients.
To succeed in the first year of a B2B businesses, I recommend perfecting a method that creates measurable positive results for other businesses within one niche. You will succeed if you can, “Make a rich man richer and take your cut.”
What is something you’ve learned that would not be obvious to somebody who hasn’t worked in your space before?
When I started, my business it was challenging and exciting. We were able to break even by month five. Our first client was the employer that laid me off. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to make them additional millions. The biggest lesson I learned is to not communicate the company in terms of ‘where we are’, but ‘where we’re going’. If I knew that early on, I would have avoided some re-negotiations and would have made a lot more money early on.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you (good or bad) on your founder journey?
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 2014, 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 Certified Publishing Partner.
What are your favorite books?
Anything you’d like to plug?
For those ad monetized publishers out there that would like to get customized notifications and step-by-step instructions how to execute, they can download this free Chrome Extension: monetizemore.com/pubguru-ad-inspector
- How To Build An Online Brand With Paige Arnof-Fenn
- Focus On Getting The First Customer With Jason Cherubini
- How To Sell Consumer Products With Derek Jouppi
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