Greetings from the PowerInbox Team! We’ve taken a bit of a break from our InsiderInbox, but we’re back with a very special guest.
Our friend Jake Burle, VP of Sales at Keywee, has been in the publishing and adtech business for over 10 years. Formerly with LiveIntent, he’s now become not only a PowerInbox customer, but also an advocate for our platform and our mission to help bring publishers and advertisers together to reach the right audiences through the power of email.
But, he’s not just our friend because he loves us! He’s also super smart, driven to succeed for his clients and a fan of 90’s hip hop. What’s not to love?
Jake began his career in the financial business, but now runs Keywee’s global sales team, working with customers and other stakeholders to help drive revenue and hit Keywee’s goals. (Did we mention he’s also extremely driven, energetic and motivated?)
Here’s Jake’s perspective on the current state of publishing and ad tech and what it takes to succeed.
1. Why did you choose digital publishing, or maybe it chose you?
I got into the space over 10 years ago, working with publishers in the email space, first with LeadRev, helping to generate leads online and then going through the acquisition of the company. I then joined Datran Media, which later merged with ContextWeb to become PulsePoint.
I guess you could say I got to that point through a little bit of both—my choosing and it choosing me. I was moving back to NY, and a friend, Evan Greenberg, asked me to join his company (LeadRev). In his trying to convince me to join, I realized how creative the industry is, which was an interesting contrast to finance, which is also very metrics-driven. I’d always been intrigued by advertising. Particularly digital and the fact that you can measure everything, yet still be creative. If you can think it, you can probably build it.
It wasn’t long before I started falling in love with the industry. Evan took me under his wing and taught me how to lead and manage a business. It was a great tutorial in leadership from Day 1.
2. What is your personal mission statement?
Do the right thing, just like the Spike Lee movie. If you do right by clients, your people and your company, everything else falls into place. If you don’t do the right thing on any of those three, something always comes back to bite you – 100 percent of the time, whether it’s damage to your reputation, loss of clients or losing respect from colleagues. Always do what’s right for them—you can’t ask for much more.
3. Tell me something about your job, other than money, that inspires you or makes you love coming to work.
Free food! I’m kidding, although that is a nice perk. But truthfully, I love seeing people succeed. I’ve hired a lot of people and built an extensive network of people I’ve coached—some of whom it was their first job out of school, others had been in the industry for 5 years or more. And, I love to see people develop and grow professionally. It’s a great feeling to know I’ve had even a little bit to do with their success.
4. Offices or open work space?
I almost didn’t take the job at LiveIntent because it was an open space environment. But, after seeing what it’s all about, I’m 100 percent about open space—just straight up tables and chairs, a very open environment.
From my experience, it facilitates learning in real time. Where else can you overhear marketing, engineering and customer service all working at once? Whether it’s hearing an anecdote about a technical challenge or eavesdropping on client call, you get a better understanding of what the entire organization is working on and challenges they face. You can ask questions, it facilitates collaborative learning environment and gives you a better sense of how the whole company operates beyond your specific role or department.
It also gives the sense of a flat organization. When leadership sits in the trenches with you, regardless of their title, it shows we’re all in this together. It gives experienced staff and leadership an opportunity to help someone in real-time, especially if it’s urgent. If you’re locked in an office, you’re disconnected.
5. What is a skill that every digital publisher should have and why?
Publishers need to work on a really solid understanding of audience engagement. Between social, games and email—they’re all fighting for attention. Your content and the way you engage with audiences is what keeps them coming back, and that’s your bread and butter.
A lot of pubs are challenged because they don’t have a sense of how to engage, of how to curate more audience and use different channels to do it. It all comes back to providing great content and making sure the right audiences see it.
6. What is the best part about your job?
Helping our partners get maximum value out of social. We see publishers that are reluctant or skeptical about how we will perform for them. Then there’s the ahha moment when they realize the value Keywee can bring. When we launch, they immediately see the fruits of our labor and the benefit of partnering with us.
7. Why are some reluctant?
When we provide estimates, it’s hard for them to believe that we can provide the kind of results Keywee can bring. They’ve been doing it on their own, they’ve tried so hard, but they can’t crack the code. They’re frustrated because, who knows their content and audience better than them? Sometimes it’s tough convincing them that we can help but we ARE the experts.
But, at the same time, if we can’t help you, we will tell you. There’s no sense spending time on a campaign we know has a slim chance of success. It’s an investment from us as well as the client. Turning down business is sometimes a good thing, people respect that and come back when the opportunity makes more sense.
8. If you could only use five (digital) marketing/ad/publishing tools, what would they be? And why?
Keywee – because we’re the experts in paid distribution on social.
PowerInbox – for its flexibility in handling different types of ad units, and for email especially, it’s an exceptional tool for publishers.
A good DMP like Lotame. Every publisher needs to harness their data and make it actionable.
JW Player – As video becomes more important, having a good tool to monetize video is key.
Fyber – Fyber is doing an absolutely tremendous job for in app header bidding and monetization.
9. Facebook or Twitter?
100% Facebook. Facebook is our specialty here at Keywee. We’re able to target and optimize much better on Facebook than anywhere else. Personally, I’ve always been more of a Facebook guy anyway. Even when the other social channels started taking off, I’ve been loyal to Facebook because I like the layout, the control, how you can consume or block content, and mute people and conversations when you want to.
It’s also just nice to see people’s happy moments, like birthdays and their kids, and share my own, like dancing with my daughter at a wedding or venting about my crappy sports teams. It’s just fun to share that stuff with the world.
10. What is the biggest digital publishing trend/challenge for this year?
Looking back, there was a lot of talk about GDPR, and how it would hurt the industry. Now that we’re on the other side, things are calm on that front. Anyone who had a global presence was severely impacted, even if only for a month or two before and after implementation. Every attorney, every publisher…anyone who fell into the tech stack was impacted.
Looking ahead at 2019, the challenges are really on the distribution side. Publishers have to develop a diversified strategy for distribution and less dependency on a single channel. You can’t put all of your eggs in just one or two baskets. If you’re only getting distribution through one channel, it can put you out of business. Why let one company have so much power over your future? If you have a very diverse distribution strategy in place, you can spread the risk but invest more in channels that are successful.
Because of Keywee’s machine learning technology and algorithms, we can add stability to a sometimes turbulent space. That’s the biggest value prop for us: almost no matter what happens in the channel, we can help you adapt to get results.
11. What’s your go-to karaoke song? And why?
Anything from the Notorious BIG. I grew up in Brooklyn in the 90s in the height of the hip hop scene, and I’ve been a big fan ever since.
12. What’s the one or two things you can’t live without to get the job done?
A good night’s sleep and a hug and kiss from my wife and daughter in the morning. If that doesn’t happen, my day doesn’t start off well.
Thanks Jake! We love hearing your first-hand perspective on what’s happening in the digital publishing!
And, we’d love to hear from you, too. If you’d like to be featured in our InsiderInbox, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re interested in a wide variety of viewpoints about everything in digital publishing, marketing and advertising. There’s so much to learn, and such great expertise out there—our goal is to help us all become better, smarter and more effective by hearing from our peers about what’s shaping the industry and moving us forward.