Month: May 2022

Talk-Commerce Lewis Rothkopf

The new world of digital with Lewis Rothkopf

Remember the days when you could turn on Google Ads, and the customers would come flowing in the door? Those days are gone, and Lewis Rothkopf walks us through techniques and ways to spend smart and measure often.

Lewis has led global businesses and revenue lines at the world’s foremost marketing, ad tech, and media companies. Lewis has contributed to the demand-side global inventory supply chain, as well as mobile, video, and advanced TV, streaming audio, digital out-of-home (DOOH), social, and emerging channels businesses.

Brent Peterson and Lewis Rothkopf discuss the digital advertising industry from the lens of a veteran digital marketer. Rothkopf’s innate interest in this niche started at a very young age. He exerted all efforts to learn the processes and metrics on how marketers measure success in this field, including artificial intelligence (AI) and media buying. Enjoy this episode and gain insights into digital marketing and advertising that is not just from the book.

Stay tuned and enjoy this Talk Commerce episode.

A notable quote from this podcast:

“So there’s no machine to learn, and then take those learnings and turn them into better outcomes. So AI is becoming more and more entrenched in everything that we do. It’s just more often called machine learning. And, you know, we do it, I’d have to imagine that all of our competitors do it. But it’s the sort of thing that can make better decisions quicker than humans. So yeah, you got to get on board with that.”

Our guest today is Lewis Rothkopf, CEO of, a demand-side platform (DSP). It is a media buying platform for marketers.

Here, Lewis discusses the idea of digital advertising from its primitive days until today, when AI is already making noticeable progress in the industry.

Gain useful insights on how the advertising industry has changed over time, including how marketers measure campaign performance’s success in the past until now. Look at the optimization efforts that can be done these days to maximize the results of any digital advertising campaign.

Key Takeaways

[2:18] – How do marketers measure success? (Click Through Rate, Cost Per Action)

[6:06] – The Technicalities

[11:46] – The Budgeting Scheme

[14:05] – How does Google rule the digital advertising industry?

[16:44] – The Industry’s Changes: Explained

[26:48] – The Role of Martin.AI

[35:01] – Artificial Intelligence in Digital Advertising

Ideas/Quotes by Lewis Rothkopf

  1. In truth, I’ve been in the space, as Brent mentioned, for 23 years. I started at the beginning of digital advertising at a company called double click, which was subsequently bought by Google. I’ve seen it all I’ve seen what works, I’ve seen what doesn’t work. And it’s really been my mission for the last six or seven years to fix the industry. I began by trying to fix it during most of my career on the sell side of that is people who are selling advertising. And you know, not surprisingly, if you really want to fix things, you have to be on the buy side, which is the people who have budgets to spend money on advertising, because of course, those who have the budgets are those who can really help dictate a better and stronger and more accountable industry.
  2. So in the very beginning of digital marketing, marketers measured the success of their campaigns by click-through rate, right, so an ad is displayed, the user a consumer clicks on the ad, and a number of times, and that n number over the number of impressions is your click-through rate 23 years ago, that was really the best measure that was used, there’s only the only measure that was used. But that was a really long time ago. And so things haven’t changed, marketers are still measuring their success by things like click-through rate, they’re also measuring by things like views through so how many people sat and watched a video ad to completion. And if that video complete rate is high, then the marketer goes home happy, except maybe they sat there and watched the whole video, or maybe they were in a different browser tab, or maybe they were in the bathroom, or maybe they were in the kitchen getting a snack. And so that’s not a great measure, either, where you start to get a bit more excited is something called CPA cost per action.
  3. Look, we’re a small company, we have a dedicated group of engineers and data scientists who are willing and excited to help you, I mentioned that we’re a small company because we help in many cases, midsize agencies and mid-sized marketers punch above their weight, right companies that don’t have an army of data scientists in the house to do all this measurement and all this optimization that we talked about, they can do it with us, and they are doing it with us.

Resources/Social Media Website

Social Media




Brent: Welcome to this episode of Talk Commerce. Today. I have Lewis Rothkopf. He is the precedent of Martin DSP. He is a digital media veteran with more than 23 years of experience in the space. And the funny part is Lewis was just telling me that he’s twenty-five years old.   Lewis, why don’t you go ahead, introduce yourself, and do a better job than I did. Tell us what you do in your day-to-day life and maybe one of your patterns.

Lewis: Thanks for having me. Your note that I’m twenty-five years old is absolutely accurate. I began working in digital advertising when I was a fetus, and that’s why it all sort of worked out so well. I also want to compliment you on getting the name right on the first try. Rothkopf means redhead in German. And if this were a video podcast, you would see that I do not have any red hair. So I’ve begun with my name being a lie. In truth, I’ve been in this space, as Brent mentioned, for 23 years, and I started all the way. Back in the very beginning of digital advertising at a company called DoubleClick, which was subsequently bought by Google.I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen what works. I’ve seen what doesn’t work. And it’s really been my mission for the last six or seven years to fix the industry. I began by trying to fix it during most of my career on the sell-side,

that is, people who are selling advertising and, you know, Surprisingly if you really want to fix things, you have to be on the buy side, which is the people who have budgets to spend money on advertising. Because, of course, those who have the budgets are those who can really help dictate a better and stronger, and more accountable industry. That’s why I made the jump. And it’s why I’m really passionate about what we’re going to talk about today. 

Brent: I think the idea of marketing has been out for a long time. And then the idea of measuring what your marketing has been out, you should always try to measure it. And I think the reality is that most people doing marketing aren’t measuring at all what they’re doing. I know that we talked a little bit in the green room about your approach to measuring the marketing and what that means to the person that is spending the money on marketing and how that really helps them, and maybe go into some of what we were talking about where it hasn’t, you know, things are changing in the digital market.

Lewis: Yeah. Great point. So in the very beginning of digital marketing, marketers measured the success of their campaigns by click-through rate, right? So an ad has displayed a user, a consumer clicks on the ad and number of times, and that N number over the number of impressions is your click-through rate. Twenty-three years ago, that was really the best measure that was used. There was only the only measure that was used. But that was a really long time ago. And so things haven’t changed. Marketers are still measuring their success by things like click-through rate. They also measure by things like view-through, so how many people sat and watched a video ad to completion? And if that video complete rate is high, then the marketer goes home happy except. Maybe they sat there and watched the whole video, or maybe they were in a different browser tab, or maybe they were in the bathroom, or maybe they were in the kitchen getting a snack. And so that’s not a great measure either. Where you start to get a bit more excited is something called CPA cost per action. And that is the cost that is imputed from the number of times that a consumer sees an ad. And then it takes the action that action can be buying a product or signing up for a lead gen form on a website or really anything. And while that is eons better than click-through rate, it’s still problematic. And the reason for that is a cost per action fails to separate users who saw an ad, comma, and took the action, so I know I’m going to go out and buy a pair of Nike sneakers.For instance, I see a bunch of Nike ads, and then I go and buy the Nike sneakers, but I was going to go buy those sneakers regardless of whether or not I saw the ad versus somebody who knew they were going to buy sneakers, saw the ad for Nike’s. These are super awesome. And they went out and bought the Nike’s because they saw the ad. And so that relationship between people who saw the ad and then people who bought the product because of the ad is called incremental lift. As opposed to CPA, which only tells you how many people saw the ad, comma, and how many people bought the product. So you’re giving credit to wherever you’re running that advertising as a marketer for people who would have been your customers anyhow. And so I think that’s crazy. We believe I believe that in order for measurement and optimization to be accurate, it has to be. Otherwise,

you’re using these old proxy metrics or vanity metrics where, you know, as a marketer, you pat yourself on the back. You’re like, oh man, a lot of people saw the video. But it’s not really true. And even cost per action. All it tells you is that you reach the right audience. Congratulations. You reached people who buy sneakers but were going to buy sneakers. Anyhow. So you just wasted that money as opposed to crediting the supply source when the action was taken because of the advertising. 

Brent: That’s a great point. And taking on a real-life example, Nike has a, and I’m a runner. So Nike has a type of running shoe called vapor fly that every single one of the major marathon winners are wearing. However, I guess there is a whole community of people that talk about those and then use them. I think at some point somebody’s going to buy them, but you write it. How do you determine, was it me who saw the ad for vapor fly, or was it me that I saw the race where I see every single runner wearing them or the winners wearing them? Like, how do you make that connection? That’s where you’re getting to? 

Lewis: Yeah, it is. And another great point you just made. So I’ll dive ever so slightly into the technical aspect of it, but I promise I won’t go too far. We use a technology at our company called ghost beads. We didn’t invent it. It’s been used by many marketers. But it avoids much of the noise and much of the false positives that are associated with the older forms of measurement like CPA. And so you use these anonymous unique identifiers to create a statistically significant and accurate model of people who were shown the ad and took action because of it. But then critically, you use a statistical model to not show the ad to a holdout group. So think about it like the random control trials that pharmaceutical companies used to understand placebo versus effect and safety of medication. Now, to be clear, we are not saving lives here. This is digital advertising. Everybody goes home alive. And so let me stop the patting ourselves on our back too much. But the difference there is you now understand the Delta between those who saw it and those who took action because they saw it. How do we do it in the case of online sales or being driven to a website where that’s the marketer’s KPIs. It’s always on. It’s built into our platform. We do it by default, and we highly recommend to our customers that they measure that way. If your KPI is brand lift or brand sentiment, if you’re a brand advertiser running a branding campaign, Then we work with a survey vendor that similarly has a control group and a holdout group. If your measure is real-world traffic, so football, we work with a partner that does football analysis and understands test group hold out-group, et cetera. So long answer to your short question is it’s not enough to say, Hey, I think we should be figuring out causation it’s. I think we should be figured out causation. And now, what’s the best way to measure that to the KPI that I want to achieve. 

Brent: Okay. That’s very interesting. At the top level, you’re sir, you’re doing some broad surveys to determine what is the group doing, and then you have, do you have it different levels that you’ll break down those statistics as it go through. How does that work? So in a break it down a little bit,

Lewis: We work with a great company called lucid which is our default partner for serving they’re built into our platform. They’re really good at what they do. And then they have the statistical models to run against their panel of consumers who’ve seen the ad versus not seen the ad and then they derive statistical significance of Whether it had enough responders, whether there were enough impressions that were delivered in order to achieve stat SIG. And then based upon all those inputs were able to understand causation, unlike in some of the older models you do have that delineation between actions taken because of versus  noise. And let me explain a bit what I mean by that? A way of AB testing, the effectiveness of a campaign that is still in use by marketers is DMA based. So I’m going to show this ad to people in these designated market areas. And I’m going to show the same ad to people in these designated market areas and I’m going to work really hard to ensure that the DMA audience population. Is similar. So roughly same number of people, roughly same demographic makeup, roughly similar DMA size. The problem is it doesn’t work. Because there are all these exogenous factors that come into play when you’re using geographic differentiation, what did the consumer in one DMA here on the radio that made them take an action. What stores are located in these DMAs? What TV commercials did they see what’s with road traffic in the area that will lead people to either go to a store or say, you know, what to hell with it? You know, this was my first choice of product, but I’m not going to sit on the 4 0 5 for an hour. So I’m just going to go buy this other thing. And so while it’s a sound idea it’s really imperfect because a lot of the noise that’s injected in. We look to figure out and to be clear, like with any model there’s going to be noise. So the objective here is not no noise. You know, this vaccine is safe and effective 99% of the time. Again, it’s digital advertising. We’re not saving lives here. We don’t necessarily strive for 99 and, you know, five nines statistical accuracy, but we try to get really close. And noise is definitely a thing, but it is much less of a thing than with some of the older models, even models that are better than doing silly things like measuring a click-through rate. They still do have some noise and we are on a mission as an industry. To get the noise out and really help marketers understand cause what’s worse. So you measure a campaign and imperfect way you get your report. That’s bad enough because now you don’t know if or where or why your marketing is working. But you double down on those results and you optimize towards stuff that is irrelevant. And so you create this vicious cycle of garbage data in garbage outputs, and you may feel good about the clicks you see on a thing, but is it really moving your shampoo off the shelf? I dunno, it’s not knowable unless you measure this stuff correctly.

Brent: You’ve talked about some larger things here is this apply to just big brands or can this filter down to medium size and even the mom and pop shops? 

Lewis: Absolutely. I think, look, I think it’s more important for smaller marketers, because their budgets tend to be limited. Like you don’t want the pizza place. We stick their money. Like you just don’t. It works at all stages of the. So whether it’s a brand advertiser and looking to generate awareness, or it’s a direct response advertisers looking to create, I don’t know lead gen or an online purchase it works at all levels and it’s important at all levels, right? Like again, think about the pizza place example. Did someone come in and buy a slice because they’re like, oh man, Pizza sounds really good. This ad was shown to me at exactly the right time and the cheese is bubbling and it’s awesome. Or did they see that ad as they were already on their way out the door to go to Brent’s pizza place? Brent’s pizza place does not have a lot of money to waste. And so it’s really important for them to understand what’s working and double down on it, as opposed to we call it spray and pray where. Sure. Close your eyes and cast a really big net and hope to, you know, DD of your choice that it’s going to work.

Brent: Yeah. And I can guarantee that nobody’s going to go to Brent Peterson’s pizza place and look for a Swedish meatball pizza. You know, I think it’s one of the interesting things here. If you look back like 20 years ago, I can remember that at the time you could spend money on Google ad words, and it was like a faucet. You just started doing Google ad words, and suddenly you’re getting a ton of leads right now, 20 years later. It’s not the case anymore. And I think you make a really good point about wasting your money and the novice person who’s logging into Google ad-words thinks still. Hey, if I’m going to throw $5,000 or $10,000 at this, I’ll get that in return, but double or triple fold. And in lead quality, even maybe talk about the. The flaws in just throwing that money at Google ad-words for the your pizza place and your Lewisredhead pizza place. And that how maybe thinking more about how that works for that consumer and for the for the person doing the marketing helps them.

Lewis: So look, I mean, Google’s a great business. You’re absolutely right. Like you turn it on and you see search is great. Nobody can debate that. But search is really good for lower funnel, right? Like you’re searching for sneakers. Just, you already know you’re going to buy sneakers. It’s what happens when you don’t already know that you’re going to buy sneakers? You know, you see an ad for for Brooks running, for instance, or you see an ad for Nike or seen an ad for Reebok. Mainly those are pretty fly shoes. Like I could really use a new pair of sneakers, like hell yeah. And then you see the ad the second time and you’re like, oh man, my sneakers suck. I could really use some new sneakers. And then you see the ad the third time and you’re like, oh, F it like, not only do I want sneakers, I want Nike sneakers. I want Brookes sneakers. I want Reeboks Adidas, sneakers. And now. Okay, cool. Let me search for Nike sneakers and then, you know what the search people do a good job. They click on the link and all as well, or they just go to or they just go to Brooks or And they buy the sneakers now, should search get the credit when the consumer already knew they were going to buy the sneakers by virtue of having seen the ad for a sneaker brand. You know, another example is brand sentiment. So let’s say your brand doesn’t have the greatest reputation, or not even something so extreme. You’re known as a brand for Swedish meatball pizza place, but you’re like, That’s not all we do. Like we also have Turkey. And so you want to change, these examples are terrible. I’m so sorry. You want to change the public’s perception that we’re not just a Swedish meatball pizza place. We’re actually a Turkey place. And so getting at Turkey tacos exactly. And tacos. So get it the really early in the funnel. And then get a survey that says, Hey, did you, the Brent sells pizza? Yes, of course. That’s sort of your you know, baseline question, but did you also know that Brent sells Swedish meatballs? Oh man I didn’t before, but I do now. And that’s how you measure lift really high in the funnel. 

Brent: You know, another thing as a conception for a smaller, medium sized business too, is they have this pool of budget money they want to spend. And they devote all that money to Google ad words. They don’t think about this bigger brand and where they should be putting some of that money. Maybe talk a little bit about how some of that should be spaced out for your ad spend and what type spends you’re going to go after it’s 

Lewis: such an easy oversight,. Right because to your point 20 years ago, you turn on the spigot and boom it’s money and it’s not that it’s not boom it’s money today. It’s that consumers have way more choices than ever. And you have this notion of DTC direct to consumer, which really was way less of a thing 20 years ago. And so at that point in time, it was just about I am searching for sneakers. And you know, here’s the only place I’m really going to see it relevant sneaker ad because. Real relevance only comes from the search signal. So Lewis search for sake first for sneakers. And so I’m going to put them in a bucket of people that like sneakers and I’m gonna show them a bunch of sneaker ads. But I like other things too. And I do other things too, and I have my own preconceived notions about which brands are better or even which you know which model is better within a brand. And so when you buttress your lower funnel campaigns with upper funnel brand awareness brand sentiment, as we talked about a moment ago and then understand the brands lift will now you’ve come much closer to solving that classic Wanamaker problem of, I know half of my advertising works, but I don’t know which half, like you can keep targeting that unknown 50% by using only a lower funnel tactics, which is fine, or you can make the pie bigger and get a bit more precise on how much of your target audience you’re reaching effectively by way of your advertising and then optimize like quickly do this stuff in real time. If you sit around, run a campaign and then get a lift report a month after the campaign what do you do? Like that money is spent, you’re not going to get it back. And so all you could hope to do is get it right the next time. Versus if you’re measuring this stuff in flight, you could make the changes right away and double down on what works and pull back on what doesn’t.

Brent: I did an interview a couple of weeks ago with the guy from the Netherlands. Who’s really big into conversion optimization. And he gave the example of and how has been a big proponent of AB testing and conversion testing and all that fun stuff. And he gave the statistic of, they have 10% win rates on their hypothesis or their tests. Which leads to say that then they continue to do it. And is a pretty big company. The idea of the merchant and what they should expect in some of these metrics and then how do they see success after that? Especially if you hire a company to do conversion optimization. And they say, well, 10% of our tests are good. How do you as a marketer, how do you translate that to the merchant? No, this is really successful. 

Lewis: Yeah, exactly. So which channel. That’s awesome that you’ve got 10%, like that’s more than awesome, that’s incredible. But how much of that was caused by the advertising versus coincidental to the advertising? Like you got to know what the, and 10% is and who they are so that you can reach more of them or, similar to a drug trial where it’s just not working and you’re running the risk of hurting people just to stop. Just stop And regroup. And there’s a whole bunch of factors that go into conversion and going to ad effectiveness. One that is very overlooked so much of the time, and it’s pretty surprising is. Like at the end of the day, like you, you’ve got to have creative that resonates with the consumer. And so almost all the time when a campaign is not doing well on a particular publisher or a group of publishers, the marketer, or the agency will pull that publisher off. Cause they’ll say, you know what? Your audience sucks. They don’t click on anything. They don’t convert. It’s probably the wrong people. And so they pull the ads away from that audience. Then they do the same thing with other sites and you know, this is how much optimization runs today. However, Your creative is terrible. Like it’s ugly. No, one’s going to click on it. Nobody wants to see more or it’s obnoxious, you know, you load the page and then you get this like sound on auto start video and it pisses the consumer off. Like you got to remember that all the marketing science-y stuff, that’s smarter people than I love to talk about is so important. But creative is really important too. So if you’re getting 10% resonance on a campaign, you know, sort of statistically, that’s great, but how much more resonance would you get if you tested multiple varying variables within the creative, right? If you dynamically optimize creative based upon what you know about the context and the anonymous attributes of that user. Will you just by so doing, you’re already speaking in much clearer and more appropriate language to your target customer. 

Brent: I think oftentimes, especially as your budget gets smaller, creative gets almost non-existent right. They think that tech stack is going to be, what’s going to sell them. And you’re exactly right. How important creativity can be and how I can think of a brand called the Geek Squad. I, the Geek Squad started in Minneapolis. And the owner drove around Simcas and had all kinds of old-fashioned cars that he drove around and did repairs. And then all of a sudden Best Buy bought them. They’ve kept some of that creative but he started that business on this little creative notion of getting better service and more innovative support for your computer needs. And now suddenly it’s doing everything everywhere in the country. You know, I think a lot of, again, going back to creative, a lot of smaller merchants look at creative, even medium-sized merchants, they don’t, they forget about creative. They just think. I like your idea of the hitting the shotgun, trying to hit everything at once, and then hopefully something sticks. 

Lewis: You’re a small advertiser, you’ve got a small target audience. You got to reach them and you don’t really have a budget to hire a, you know, top 50 creative shops. You can go on to Fiverr, right? You can go on to, you know, any talent marketplace and find somebody fantastic and tell them here’s what I’m trying to communicate. I don’t know the first thing about, you know, creative or brand marketing, but just do something that is going to result in the consumer being inspired, to take any action based upon it. Do at least that and do it in a way that the ad is not like repulsive or offensive by being so obnoxious to the user. And I can almost guarantee you that with better creativity comes better outcomes. 

Brent: Sometimes it’s noxious to the user. It works, but not very often. So really quick, a B to B, I know you’ve mentioned, I think a lot of these things apply directly to D to C, but B2B is such a huge market. And I think a lot of those, a lot of the people that are on B2B are what’s called legacy. Pre sometimes pre-internet users, even a B2B marketing is kinda hitting its stride now. Does a lot of the supply to B2B?

Lewis: Yeah. So we have one B2B client. We’re hoping to bring another one in soon. It’s re you’ve dealt it, right? It’s very important that you reach the right consumer and in the world of B2B, the Target’s just smaller, right? Unless you happen to be a massive solutions provider or you sell products to, you know, every store owner, every business owner in the world, which let’s face it is not many. Then you’ve got to make sure that you’re reaching the right people. So examples of that would-be doctors in hospitals lawyers in law practices, maybe not even while they’re at home, maybe only when they’re in the practice or they’re in the hospital because they’re in the mode of. I don’t know, boy, these syringes are really terrible. I would love to find a place to buy new and better syringes. So what does that mean in terms of nuts and bolts? Budgets, probably going to be much smaller because there are just fewer doctors in hospitals to reach than there are sneaker aficionados. And so you have less to screw up with, right? Like getting it wrong from a targeting and creative perspective or a measurement perspective when your audience is, you know, 20 million consumers are like, you got a little runway here, you’ve got sort of statistic probability of some of it working somewhere just by virtue of the large numbers. But if you’re trying to reach 500,000 doctors in hospitals who want to buy those new syringes. You can’t screw up from the get-go. Like you have to make sure that you’re getting it right. And if you’re not getting it right again, have those results available to you in real-time so that you can titrate up or down based upon how the campaign is performing tweak, tweak the creative, but absolutely this certainly applies to B2B marketers. You’re just targeting a different mindset. And so the demographics, the psychographics, the geography, right? So remember. You’re able through the use of, you know, a handful of partners to draw these squares or around a map. And, you know, maybe the one square you want to draw is this hospital and that hospital. And just by virtue of doing that, we’ll now you’re able to understand what the footfall is based upon the advertising that you’re running. And a pretty, pretty good sense that you’re targeting the right individual. 

Brent: So if maybe just walk us through, if somebody has some interest in free-thinking how do they talk to you about this and how do you start that conversation? So you can reach out to us and let’s not make it an advertisement, but I think this is super interesting.

Lewis: Yes. We like to help people you go to and you see. You know, Lewis sounded really interesting or he sounded like a moron, but what he was talking about was interesting. And the first question we asked, both prospective customers and existing customers, when they want to launch a new campaign is like, what do you want to do? Like do you want to get people to come to a physical location? Do you want people to buy things online? You know, like what’s your objective here? And then we say, who’s your audience. Then we say, how much are you looking to spend? Because that absolutely dictates how much of it you’re doing, but what it should not dictate is quality. So if you come to me or any of our competitors with a $5,000 budget you should get as high-quality properties that you advertise on. And as. Quality results as those that come to us with a $50 million budget. However, what you might struggle with a little bit is achieving statistical significance in measurement studies. So for things like visits to a website or, you know, online dr type metrics or sales online, it’s pretty easy. If you’re looking to do brand sentiment, measurement, footfall measurement, you’re probably gonna have to spend a bit more than 5,000 bucks in order. To achieve stat SIG and take some real learnings from the situation. But again, like we’re happy to help folks succeed. They have to have a good understanding of what good looks like to them. And then we can help them take it from there. And whether that goal is sales, you know, foot fall sentiment we can help tune. 

Brent: People have to wake up and realize as well, is that because the market is so small. I’ll talk about hosting companies. Hosting companies tend to have a small market, but they tend to spend a lot of money to acquire a customer. So whether they’re using a LinkedIn ad or they’re using a Google ad or whatever they’re using that specific ad rate is going to be a lot higher than another industry, especially if you’re talking B2B like this, and a lot of times. I hear from inexperienced b2B owners that don’t understand some of this digital and looking back at some of the legacy B2B, where they’ve always relied on a call center to take their sales. And it goes right in another ERP and they’ve skipped the website completely. Suddenly. It was. W let’s look at their website, and let’s try to acquire some customers. They don’t necessarily equate how much it costs to acquire that customer for that voice. There’s a person that’s making outbound calls. There’s a whole cycle to that. I think one thing that we were saying, or you’re saying here is that there’s this bigger picture that most owners have to see entrepreneurs, whoever it is that’s spending the ultimate check has to see that the cost to acquire this customer is going to be. Somewhat similar if you’re going strictly digital as if you’re going analog over the phone.

Lewis: Yeah. And targeting it’s just so much more precise and it’s so much more efficient to execute via programmatic pipes and right. Digital pipes than it is via, you know, the old, like sending an IO back and forth, you know, using your fax machine, some of the, getting it right stuff for B2B. Is super unintuitive, right? So you know, you spend enough time in this stuff and you start to draw some really interesting correlations things. Like people I’m only making it up. People who are in market for a luxury auto are substantially more likely they over-index on people who like chocolate chip cookies, okay. You’ll never know that before you run a campaign. And the other thing is it doesn’t matter. Just because you can know something doesn’t mean that it makes sense for you to exercise, right? However some targeting is super intuitive. You are a hosting company and you want to reach IT professionals. You want to reach only CTOs. And so we run a digital campaign that runs on a streaming audio channel. You can buy. You know, radio programmatically that is of particular interest to CTOs or buy a podcast spot on, you know, the CTOs who drive to work in San Francisco podcast, right? Podcasts are the new magazines they allow for super precision targeting. It is a misconception that you can only do that by picking up the phone and calling the podcast. It’s just not the case. There are multiple avenues today to be able to run programmatically in audio and the holy grail of all of this is reaching consumers and businesses. In the case of B2B cross-channel. I’m a doctor in a hospital and, you know, I’m looking up new syringes on my hospital computer. And so I see the app, Benny, get into my car and I’m listening to the, you know, doctors who need syringes podcast. And all of a sudden I hear whoa, that’s the same ad. I just heard. That I saw back when I was in the hospital and then they get home and they’re watching, you know, connected TV. They’re watching a program on-demand and they see that ad for that syringe company. And it’s oh my God. They know exactly what I care about. Isn’t that awesome. And you know, you do have to be a little careful not to be creepy about it. You do have to be careful to make sure that you’re not targeting. Individuals because that’s gross and contrary in most cases to industry rules and best practices. But if you’re targeting a group of anonymous consumers, anonymous business owners, and you’re surrounding them with high-quality advertising, well, now you just replicated in, in many senses, the most effective historical analog campaigns. And you’ve done so in a way that it’s pretty efficient. 

Brent: If so, looking ahead into 2022 now what is the thing that a merchant who’s going to spend some money on advertising should be looking at? Is there a trend that you see coming testing?

Lewis: Test and learn like experiments only work when you experiment with them. Don’t go in with preconceived notions, right? Like you’re a very smart person. I promise you, you don’t know everything about how your campaigns are going to resonate. So again, some of these things are really intuitive. Most of them are not. And so don’t be afraid to experiment with creative, with targeting with, you know, all the different apps with. With the kinds of sites or apps or radio shows that you want to get on or connected TV channels. Don’t be afraid to give all this stuff a try and don’t be afraid to give it a try with a modest budget like you may not reach stats SIG on a $5,000 budget, but you may start to get some inklings that would lead you to move budget away from something else in, into this. And for the love of God, like don’t optimized to stupid old things like just don’t optimize to CTR. Don’t optimize to, well, I have $5,000. I want to spend $5,000. So let me just let the supply source run this thing for $5,000 worth and like sure enough, that’s going to lead to success, right? No, don’t do that. Be scientific about that and work with companies that are willing and ready to help you by making data scientists available and saying, this is your campaign, these are your results. But did you know that if you just tweaked the creative like this, or if you just increased your bid amount by 10 cents, you’d be able to win over this whole additional audience that is square within your strike zone? You gotta work with people that are willing to tell you that. 

Brent: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. So one last question while we close out here, where do you think AI is going to bring us into this next realm? And how much of a play do you think it has? Certainly, it’s making a play in the smaller portions of marketing, but do you think some of these bigger things are going to be controlled by algorithms rather than just by people?

Lewis: Great question. The exciting and challenging thing about that question is everyone defines AI differently, right? Like the buzzword of AI. Is probably a bit better replaced with algorithmic machine learning. You know, at our company, we have algorithms that can be customized based upon things we know from the advertiser and things we know about the user. And that helps inform how much we bid on a particular impression opportunity. I think if you’re not doing something like that in 2022. Where can’t you do that? You can’t do that in analog at all. Like you just can’t you’re buying a page or you’re buying time or you’re buying like, you know, a column of a newspaper. But there’s no impact from who’s reading that newspaper or, you know, who is my target within that newspaper readership. There’s no feedback loop there. And so there’s no machine to learn and then take those learnings and turn them into better outcomes. So AI is becoming more and more entrenched in everything that we do. It’s just more often called machine learning and, you know, We do it. I’d have to imagine that all of our competitors do it. But it’s the sort of thing that is able to make better decisions quicker than human. So yeah, you got to get on board with that. 

Brent: And the important part there is machine learning because you know, part of this, everybody does have something they’re calling AI. And if it doesn’t learn from your mistakes, it’s not really AI. It’s just automation. And I’ll just give my last little clothes out. I been trying some of these Jarvis style services and it wasn’t Jarvis that I tried, but it writes, you know, an article for you or whatever that thing is. And as many times as you put it in, it’s going to give you the same thing back out and there’s no way to tell it. It did it wrong. And I remember I tried to do it just to summarize a podcast and it made up all this stuff about a guy that he did, this stuff wasn’t even real, but it gave me a, you know, five, five paragraphs of content. That was completely wrong. I couldn’t use any of it. It gave me some bullet points that were good. The content within that bullet point was completely wrong. And the point of this is that it was automating it, but there’s no way to tell it. No, this was completely wrong. And here’s why in order to make machine learning work, it has, you have to have, you have to tell the machine. When it’s done something wrong so it can learn that’s my little soapbox complaint. So apologize for throwing that in. As we close out, every episode I give you a chance to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like to plug today.

Lewis: Yeah. So Lewis, what would you write to him? Always full of shame in my life. So I will try to be shameless. Look, we’re a small company. We have dedicated groups of engineers and data scientists who are willing and excited to help you. I mentioned that we’re a small company because we help in many cases mid-size agencies and midsize marketers punch above their weight. Right companies that don’t have an army of data scientists in-house to do all this measurement and all this optimization that we talk about, they can do it with us and they are doing it with us. And, you know, as a smaller company ourselves, we’re super, super proud of being able to help marketers again at all stages of the funnel and all up and down in terms of size and scope. And I guess the shameless part of this is. We’re really the only platform that we’re aware of that has a built-in incrementality measurement, always on. So in real-time is your thing working. And if it is to go back to your immediately proceeding point, like feed that knowledge back into the algorithm, and pretty quickly you’ll start to learn.
Okay. People who come from making this up Chrome web browsers are more likely to resonate with this particular type of campaign. And so bid more for consumers that are in Chrome web browsers and, you know, to close it out if you’re not measuring the right thing, you’re telling the algorithm the wrong thing, and it’s just going to be an amplification of bad decisions.

Brent: And I think those bids for the IE6 users are pretty low Lewis Rothkopf. Thank you so much for being here. As Lewis is the president of Martin DSP, is the place where you can find him. I will post a show notes. Thank you so much. It’s been 

Lewis:  I really enjoyed this. Thanks for having me on. 

Talk-Commerce Jaime Ramirez

Protecting your Digital Identity with Jaime Ramirez

Merchants want a seamless user experience without sacrificing thorough identification and monitoring and they want the power of fraud prevention with the intelligence of AI and biometrics integration.

Jaime and Brent talk about how merchants can use digital identity verification to ensure that their clients are who they say they are. Jaime walks us through some of the different aspects of fraud prevention.

Jaime is the Founder and CEO of Preventor, a RegTech enterprise. Prevention is the next generation in integrated financial crime risk management.

Talk-Commerce UnConf joseph maxwell

Swiftly get Certified with Joseph Maxwell

Engineering-Focused eCommerce Web Agency & World-Renowned Developer Training Platform

SwiftOtter is a trusted guide for eCommerce brands of enduring quality in a dynamic online marketplace. Our highly-experienced team of engineering-focused developers are known for helping our clients establish an excellent presence in the marketplace, avoid costly pitfalls and position themselves for explosive growth.

In addition, SwiftOtter enables eCommerce developers worldwide to improve their skills, get certified, find their ideal career paths, and reach their full potential. We’ve got something helpful for every developer, and we’re super excited about it.
Talk-Commerce Taren Gesell

A Better App for Coaching with Taren Gesell

Business owners and entrepreneurs are known for their energy. They focus on their ideas but frequently, that energy is sedentary. Brent interviewed Taren Gesell or better known as Triathlon Taren. Taren went from an Ironman and Youtube sensation to a tech startup with an exciting and disruptive app called MoTTIV. This virtual coaching app helps athletes focus on what they need to focus on while still giving them the flexibility to live their busy lives. Taren is through the beta version and is into his first round of funding. There is a lot to learn and much to unpack in their episode.

Brent: Welcome to this episode of Talk Commerce. This is the activity edition, and I have Taren Gesell Taren go ahead. Introduce yourself. Tell us what you do in your day-to-day life and maybe one of your passions. 

Taren: Thanks for having me here, Brent. Thing that people would best know me for. If they look me up online would be this YouTube channel that I started about seven years ago called triathlon Taren.

Taren: And I started a YouTube channel while I was an investment advisor as my day job, because I just wanted something on the side that was fulfilling and creative. And I thought that if I really knocked it out of the park, maybe I could get some free energy bars at some point in my life. It ended up growing to being now the second largest triathlon YouTube channel in the world, the largest triathlon podcast in the world, we’ve published four books.

Taren: We have expanded into the main thing that we focus on now where I’m the CEO of a. Called the motive training app that helps regular people get to their endurance races. So whether they want to train for triathlons or running races or cycling events, or do Athlons, we have an app that now is hopefully as good as a one-on-one coach, but as cheap as doing it yourself, which has never existed in this world.

Taren: And we want to make getting to those exciting finish lines that endurance sports really are. A little bit more accessible in the world. 

Brent: That’s great. Thank you. And I will admit that I found you because I’m a triathlete. I’m a a very poor triathlete I’m free, very poor swimmer. I’m an avid runner.

Brent: And I’m an okay. Biker. I think I saw one of your videos. we did our first to half Ironman last year as a family, my daughter, my wife and I. It was one of the best experiences I had absolutely so much fun and I’ve run a lot of marathons. It took me longer, believe it, or not than a marathon.

Brent: But I had so much fun in the race and even the swim part, I had such a great time. That’s how we found each other. One of the things that, that really stuck out was the fact that you’ve pivoted from. This role of being a coach or what you were doing with your YouTube channel into this app that you’ve built.

Brent: Maybe tell us a little bit about that. Yeah. So 

Taren: I recognized that life on YouTube is a little fleeting. You get about 15 minutes of fame and there comes a point where your channel maybe just starts to feel a little stale. Maybe in my case, I’ve said a lot of the same things for seven years. I’m also getting older and a lot of YouTubers find that.

Taren: Their channel lifespan is finite. So I recognize that was happening about four years ago, just in general in the YouTube space. And I didn’t want to go back to having a real job. I wanted to still stay in this industry and think about what could I do that would be lasting as a career, as a business and what was needed in the world.

Taren: And I saw one of the things that people need the most help with is coaching and advice to get to their finish lines. But what I saw was the two options that are out there for people that want to get advice on how to train for an endurance event is either a $200 a month one-on-one coach or a free template training plan.

Taren: Both options suck for most people because the average person doesn’t want to spend two to $3,000 a year or more on a hobby just for coaching, let alone all the biking equipment and the wetsuit, and it just gets to be too expensive. So most people don’t use one-on-one coaching and then template training plans are not motivating.

Taren: They’re not relevant to the user. They’re not customizable. And what happens if you have two races in a row and you’ve got a marathon and a triathlon and the training overlaps, what do you do with those template training plans? And nobody’s ever looked at solving this problem. So we launched a Kickstarter, but three and a half years ago to see if people were interested in something like this app.

Taren: And I sold the Kickstarter campaign, literally just off of a Google spreadsheet that I mocked up to prototype my way into showing what an app could possibly do. And now three and a half years later, we’re finally scaling up. We’re raising our first significant round of investment. And I think that we can build something that

Taren: is comparable to what Duolingo did for language learning. That’s what we want to do for endurance training. We want to make it something that isn’t a real niche sport. We want to make it something that everyone can access because it’s easier to get solid training and more cost-effective to get solid training, which it hasn’t ever been.

Taren: So that’s what we’re working on right now. That’s the future of the business of my YouTube channel. And I’m really just trying to make sure that I prove my mother wrong and continue to play for a living. And the app was the way that, that I could continue to do that while having a good effect in the endurance community.

Brent: I love that story. I know myself personally, I do have a running coach who helps me and holds me accountable. And I do see though that where you can get stuck in a rut, even with a coach. What are some of the pain points that your app has been able to overcome in bridging the gap between a training peaks, 80/20 plan and a one-on-one coach.

Brent: And I’ll say to, mine’s just a running coach and I know that there’s a lot more involved than a triathlon coach. 

Taren: That is actually a perfect example of one of the biggest problems. Most users of our app. And frankly, most endurance athletes are like you, they want to bounce between marathons or half marathons and triathlons.

Taren: And the fact of the matter is that most one-on-one coaches are single sport coaches they’re run coaches or triathlon coaches or cycling coaches, and they don’t go across all disciplines. So that’s an issue that we have to solve with our. We partnered with some of the best run cycling, triathlon duathlon, swim, run coaches in the world and created algorithms to make the plans that each of those great coaches put together coordinate with each other.

Taren: So that was one problem that we had to solve a second one is that there are a lot of really great one-on-one coaches out there, but there’s also a lot of really terrible one-on-one coaches out there who charge $200 a month and essentially make a template training plan. And the story that a lot of people resonate with is they might go to their one-on-one coach, wake up in the morning and go, Hey, Carl, I feel really bad.

Taren: What should I do today? And Carl, the coach goes this is part of training, continue on. And he’d go I really feel bad. There are going to be low moments in training, continue on, and really what’s happening is the coach doesn’t know what’s going on in your body. And the coach doesn’t want to go through readjusting your plan every single time you have a ache or a nigle or feel a little bit tired, what we can do with technology.

Taren: And now the data that is being collected by things like the Whoop band and the Aura Ring. We can adjust training every single day. If users drink a bottle of wine, we can make their workout the very next morning, easier for them. If they’re trending down and not keeping up with the train and feeling sore, we can detect that and actually get training that is better than a lot of one-on-one coaches and doing the things that really good one-on-one coaches do.

Taren: The ones that will charge three, five, $1,500, but we’re doing it in a way that we can charge 14 to 20 bucks a month. So there were a couple of major problems that we had to solve. And those two are the primary ones that weren’t really being serviced, even by most one-on-one coaches with the current service model.

Brent: I just I’m pretty sure my wife now is signed up for your app because she does drink a bottle of wine with me every night. And that’s probably why she’s getting up in the morning, thinking that she can take it easy and I’m joking. Cause she’s probably going to listen to this. I think from experience, I can say I did go through the coaching training last year with RRCA, the Roadrunners club of America.

Brent: And that was one of the warnings that they give coaches. I know also that coaches either haven’t been through that training can fall into that rut of not listening and especially right now with online and not even actually seeing anybody in person, you end up with somebody that’s in a different city that doesn’t connect with you or never has connected with you.

Brent: From what I’m hearing is that there’s some technology behind that says listening to your body and is there a certain amount of technology that the user has to have to be able to. W like you’d have to have I have a stride pod and I have a power pedals. I’ve all the dumb things that somebody with enough money can buy that doesn’t ever use all that data.

Brent: But what I’m hearing you saying is that some of those things are of value and they add that value and then you can get back and like my Garmin account is a great example. I can go and see what my power was or my FTP was in my bike ride. I have no idea how to use any of that stuff I should because I’m a coach.

Brent: But I don’t know how to use that for myself. So not to get into a bunch of technical details on an e-commerce podcast, but it’s very interesting on how it’s almost like in AI, like in artificial intelligence, helping the users to know, and then the system is learning as it goes for each one.

Taren: That’s a big issue that you’re talking about with the entire industry that we’re collecting heart rate data, we’re collecting power data. We’re collecting HRV data now, resting heart rate data, all of these things and the Garmins, the Whoop, the auras of the world. They all basically just collect the data and then tell you all here’s what it is, but nobody really is interpreting it and saying, here’s what you should be doing. Whoop is a great example. I liked the whoop band, but they say here’s your readiness score. And if your readiness score is in the tank. Great. Okay. What are you doing? Does that mean that you change your workout?

Taren: When does it mean? Like how in the tank does it need to be to change your workout? So that’s what we’re able to do is pair a lot of that data with what you actually should be doing as an endurance athlete on the day. And that’s a big piece that’s been. 

Brent: I want to pivot a little bit of just, the, maybe our listeners our business owners who are sitting in there at their desk.

Brent: Maybe talk about you. If you’re not already really into doing some fitness things. The importance of doing something other than just typing on your computer. Do you ever ever get stuck in not going and doing some exercise? Are you a type of person who has to get out and do something in addition to doing your day to day business work?

Brent: No. 

Taren: I came from a very unfit upbringing and a very, even add a few more varies, unfit early twenties in my life. Lot of drinking, I was quite overweight, about 215 pounds. And I got rid of a little bit of weight in my mid twenties by going into the gym and throwing some weights around and eating chicken breast and bland rice, the things that young kids do when they think that they’re bodybuilders.

Taren: But there were a couple of things about it that were never quite right. And I think are very meaningful to the average person, whether they’re a business owner or really just anyone who wants a little bit more from life, that feeling that you talked about when you stepped up to a start line of a triathlon being different than stepping up to the start of a race, I think

Taren: running races, really fulfilling that feeling of little bit of fear of not knowing if you’re going to be able to accomplish the task ahead of you being a triathlon or a long running race or a marathon swim or something like that. (A), it gives you a lot of structure and motivation to be healthy. And (B) it gives you a lot of fulfillment.

Taren: When you complete that task, it’s like selling a business or achieving a huge milestone in the business. It’s going through a process of seeing what you are capable of doing. And being able to do it and astounding yourself. And in my case, it made me more confident. It allowed me to start this business.

Taren: It allowed me to have the confidence to put myself out there on YouTube and put my thoughts out there in the world. So it’s less to me about, alright. Do you age? Because so many people talk about that, but I think the unsung hero in endurance sports. Is the confidence and fulfillment and structure that you get from that little bit of fear of knowing that you have to step up to the start line of a race and not know if you’re going to be able to finish it.

Taren: And frankly, the things that are going on inside your head at the start of the race, are am I going to come out of this alive? Yes, the answer is for sure, you will but it’s exciting. And we don’t really get that excitement in this day and age anywhere we can get it in endurance sports. 

Brent: Yeah. And maybe not so much excitement from a marathon.

Brent: Although if you’re in a the excitement going into a triathlon because you, even if like I’m from Minnesota, so Northern Minnesota, there’s some races and in the summer, those lakes. Dark sometimes and it’s gets, it gets imposing when you’re going across a white cap to lake and you’d have to go out a mile and come back or something.

Brent: So the structure that you said is what I really want to key in on, because I think most entrepreneurs or business owners have to have some kind of structure or they just wing it. And the ones that wing it are unbelievably lucky to make it. And when they do make it, they have to put some structure into it.

Brent: So I think that by doing some of these things to get fit, and let’s just say, all you want to do as a couch to 5k. That structure you’re putting into place. And that goal you’re setting to get there is going to be (a) fulfilling and then the fulfilling the next piece of that fulfillment is that most likely you’re going to be a little bit more fit at the end of that goal.

Taren: And you’re going to change how you feel about yourself. I use the example that I’ve just recently come across, while we’re doing fundraising as opposed to going the traditional venture capital route. We are going to individuals. And we could talk about another time about why we’re doing that, but I’m looking for individuals who are endurance athletes and could write a decent sized check. And I started thinking, how do I actually go about finding these people? I say, can I just search for them? So in quotes, I have triathlete in quotes and then LinkedIn, and then president in quotes. And sure enough, the amount of people that have triathlete or ultra runner or ultra marathoner in their LinkedIn bio is enormous.

Taren: That doesn’t happen with golf. Maybe with CrossFit, but there are very few things in this world that become a part of who you are and that people want to celebrate and display to the world in the same way that endurance sports gets displayed an advertised. And I think that’s because it is such an impactful thing in people’s lives.

Taren: So yes, again, all of the good health is great, but the confidence, the fulfillment, the structure of having a reason to be healthy it’s all so powerful. And I want more people to be able to experience that sort of power of changing and improving one’s life. 

Brent: I think that fear part is another one that’s always a fear in a good way. The fear of trying something new and the fear of failing and even the acceptance of, Hey I’m going to go out and do this swim, let’s just say, you’re going to sign up for a 5k swim. And if I don’t make it, there’s going to be a boat there to pick me up.

Brent: If the weather gets big and I know there’s a swim, like the Point to LaPoint is one I want to do it’s from Madeleine island to to wherever across Lake Superior, two miles, and last year they had three foot waves. So a lot of people had to dropout, but just the idea of doing it and stepping in and making that extra effort to put yourself out of what your comfort zone is.

Brent: I think makes you a better entrepreneur because in your entrepreneurial life, in order to grow, you can’t be stagnant and always doing the same thing. And I believe there’s such a tie-in from being active in your physical life to being active in your mental life, to being active in your business life.

Brent: They all tie together and I think you’re right. And I’m going to say something that would probably get a lot of people upset. I don’t like CrossFit. I don’t see the big point in CrossFit. You’re standing in a place. And then you might do a hundred yard run. I run past a CrossFit gym and I see them sprint out and they come back and they sprint back and maybe I’ll run five miles down the trail and come back and they’re still sprinting out and whatever.

Brent: But the the idea of that identity and then the idea of of being able to put yourself into somewhere that you’re uncomfortable. And maybe the, one of the differences too, from the gym to an ultra race is that you’re putting yourself into somewhere uncomfortable for a really long time.

Brent: So your half Ironman is more like three hours. Mine is more like six, but that’s, you’re still out on the course a long time. 

Taren: But 

Brent: close, you could be. Who’s the guy that just got the world record. He did his full Ironman in less than seven hours. Yeah. 

Taren: Yeah. Blumenfeld they’re in 7:21 crazy.

Brent: Only the Norwegian can do such things. Exactly so I can see the tie in, I’m a big proponent of keeping people active and my business life has been around having some balance between that. So maybe if you could bring us back to your app, then you’ve transitioned from your YouTube into this app, and now you’re trying to raise capital, that’s where you’re at in your business. Yeah. Tell us a little bit about, are you in a beta? where are you on your app now? 

Taren: So we launched three years ago, a little bit over three years ago and it was in beta for about a year and a half. The beta was public, and because I was still doing the YouTube channel and have this nice big audience.

Taren: We were always able to drive a certain amount of users to it, enough users that we could start getting data and collecting user feedback on where we needed to go with the app. And then a year and a half ago, we rebrand. We rebuilt the entire app, a completely new architecture, completely new programming language so that we could scale the app because we had grabbed enough, got enough data from our users to have an actual business thesis of what would scale up, what are users looking for? Things as simple as like you mentioned AI, we started doing a lot of market testing of what do athletes think when they hear that their plans are generated by machine learning or artificial intelligence.

Taren: It’s actually a detriment. So learning things like that is important that isn’t to say that we won’t use AI. It just means that we don’t lead with it and our marketing. So learning all the things like that, about what increases engagement, what is a good price to come in at? What is a way to make people feel that the app is working and that they actually develop confidence so that by the time they get to the race,

Taren: they’re confident that they’re going to be able to get across that finish line. So we’ve been gathering all of that for three years and we bootstrapped all, but us small little friends and family round that we raised at the beginning of last year, but now it’s time to start unrolling some of the features that we think are fairly groundbreaking in the industry, and we don’t want to do those

Taren: slowly, we don’t want to do those in a bootstrap fashion and basically announced to the world what the playbook is. We want to be able to come out, grab market share, because we’ve probably got about a 24 to 36 month window before competitors catch onto what we’re doing. And we want to use that to aggressively launch the feature set that we want to create and capture market share quickly.

Taren: So that’s where we’re at right now. 

Brent: Are you seeing a community as an important part of the experience from the user? And I say it from, I used to use an app called the daily mile. It was something that was super popular 10 years ago. They just really put no money into their app and it just ended up fizzling out.

Brent: But the best part of that is that it created a community. And it was more about how your posts look. And I do remember my wife complaining like, oh, you’re going to go do your post about your run, because it was a social thing. And because you had people actually cared about what you’re doing, it turned into less 

Brent: Facebook, Hey, look at the marathon I did to here’s the marathon I did, or here’s my run and here’s the struggles I had, or here’s the exciting part about what I had. And it was a commonality in that community that you don’t get on Strava. Strava, you can give somebody a kudos or you say, Hey, great run but for whatever reason, there’s a piece that you miss in the social part of it. That’s between coaching and between support and it’s about your own people or your group of people that are supporting you in your activity.

Taren: So it’s interesting that you say that we launched on day one with a social media feed. And my core belief was that training for yourself and solely for yourself, wasn’t as fulfilling as training for yourself but with other people, that human element is something that is so hardwired into us, whether it is seeing success in other people and being motivated by it,

Taren: or achieving success in yourself and getting those kudos or the accolades from achieving something that you never achieved before, is really important. And I look at an app like Zwift, so people don’t know Zwift is a training app where you hook your bike up to a smart trainer. And the smart trainer communicates with the app and you cycle inside this virtual world alongside other people now had Zwift launched and you biked around this virtual world by yourself.

Taren: It would be marginally better than staring at a wall or watching Netflix while you’re on your bike. But not immensely better, but the experience that Zwift launched with was you cycle inside this virtual world. And so is everyone else. So when people pass you, you have an encouragement to go a little bit faster and you can enter a race and there’s people all around you.

Taren: You get ride ons from everyone that is riding around you. There are achievements and badges that you can go and collect. The other people get to see how far along you’ve come. And then all of a sudden it’s immensely better than just training by yourself, staring at a wall. So our competitors and where the industry of online endurance training has gone is really just creating that virtual world where people are training by themselves.

Taren: The problem that they’re all trying to solve is how do we automate training? I can tell you we’ve already solved, automated training. And it isn’t enough to change people’s habits. So our entire scale up thesis is we’ve already automated training. We’ve figured out all of that logic and that programming language to be able to make that happen.

Taren: But how do we actually make it such that all of the users have this community experience? They get some of those good things from CrossFit or from a in-person training club. That sense of community is really what keeps people around and keeps people very motivated to continue to come back. So it is the entire thesis of our business, that community aspect of it, without that we’ve just got empty training that people are doing solo and suffering by themselves.

Brent: How. So just I apologize. I should have used the app before I came to the interview. I apologize for that. How I’m not if you’ve sparked my interest. I’ll give you an example, right? So I’ve been injured and I haven’t been running for about a week. And so I’ve switched to biking.

Brent: And so my coach has a running coach. So now she’s given me some biking workouts that I actually, I find quite fun. But because I’m on and I’m on Rouvi, which is just like Zwift, but you get to play. Can I get the bike in Hawaii all the time now? So w what happens to me is. I see that person, then I’m like, I can bike as hard as that person.

Brent: And then I, my easy days, I find myself biking way harder than I should. So if I get I’ve told I bike between a hundred and 150 Watts or whatever, I’m at 200 or 250 or some stupid number that, and I’m no that, I know these are very small numbers for you, but That I’m overdoing myself. And then, I don’t get a lot of feedback after that.

Brent: So would the, would like your app would give you an opportunity to say, Hey, ease back or 

Taren: yeah, our app will give people not any sort of strict guidance where people will be. Say penalized for not following the app to the letter. I think that people need enjoyment. They need to be able to have some free play time, essentially where they can go.

Taren: And if a workout says 60 minutes, but they’re feeling great and want to go for 90 cool where we will start giving people guidance is when they start going off the training plan too many times, be it in the intensity or in the duration or in what they’re actually doing in the workout. We will have indications of you might be less likely to reach your goal. So we will give that guidance of being able to do that. And it will not necessarily motivate people to only follow the plan, which I don’t really believe is reasonable. It’ll give people motivation and guidance to maybe not just fall too far outside the rails.

Taren: And have a bad race day. As long as they’re keeping a hard ride, hard, an easy ride, relatively easy most of the time, strength days are still strength. Days. Rest days are still rest days. People are going to still reach their goals. And we want to give that latitude while we’re giving the a hundred percent guidance, but give them the ability to

Taren: make smart choices make adult choices. If you want to go and turn a 60 minute easy ride into a 60 minute easy ride with 15 minutes, really hard at the end, we’ll tell you if that is becoming detrimental. 

Brent: Yeah. So at the macro level, rather than trying to micromanage the individual workouts, it sounds like what you’re saying, which is, I think that’s a great approach to how you’re doing that.

Brent: And as we tied this back to business, Often entrepreneurs tend to get stuck in the details of a thing and they can’t see the bigger picture. So as we bring this full circle, tying it back into a business standpoint, or even in your app standpoint, if you were to focus on some small bits of code and you’re missing that picture of community or something like that, you’re missing the big picture.

Brent: You’re going to miss out on what your goal is going to be. 

Taren: Yeah, exactly. Whether it is training or what we’re building say with our analytics dashboard. I like what you’re talking about, that we’re looking at large, big indicators of the health of an individual or the health of your business, as opposed to fussing about all of the very, very small minute details.

Taren: I think the small minute details are things that you do need to work on. We’re obsessing right now about the time that it takes people to get through our signup flow. But the reason that we started looking at that was because we started looking at larger numbers, is our churn too large for our.

Taren: For the amount of people that we’re bringing in. And if the answer is yes. Okay. Where are the leaky buckets? Yeah, as opposed to getting stuck in the weeds of every single detail, just focusing on the big picture numbers, which then led us and me in fitness and in business to starting to narrow down what weeds we look at after looking at the big picture.

Brent: Not to keep harping on it, but that idea of having those metrics in place and measuring it and remeasuring it and testing it. It’s exactly the same across both business and exercising and training for an event. If you don’t measure something you’ve done, you’re not going to know if you’ve achieved that goal.

Brent: That’s obvious in a running race, but in business sometimes. And I’ll take marketing as an example. A lot of times people just think marketing is marketing and I going to put some social media posts up and I’m going to do a post on LinkedIn and that’s my marketing and whatever happens there.

Brent: I’ll spend $5,000 on Google ads and we’ll see what happens. I don’t know. And then they don’t look and see how well they performed. So I think to tile this back even the idea of looking back at your your workouts to see how well you performed, it’s always good to to have a measurement or a commonality in that measurement.

Brent: The motivation is like the Google analytics. Could I say of of the running triathlete world and that those analytics are telling you certain things about your fitness and your training. That’s bold step. 

Taren: Maybe I thought about it that way, but as you were saying, that one thing that came to mind was a big thing that we believe in with our method of endurance training is taking care of the entire body, looking at

Taren: every system, as important as all of other, the other systems that isn’t the case with most sports that people do, whether it’s CrossFit and focusing basically entirely on strength and explosive power or yoga focusing exclusively on nothing but being flexible or running and cycling, focusing on being aerobically fit, most sports tend to leave out the rest of every other system.

Taren: What we like to do is look at the digestive system, the musculoskeletal system with strength, training, the heart and the lungs, the cardiovascular system with the aerobic training. And how do we get a training app and a training philosophy to address all of those together because they all do need to work together.

Taren: If you don’t have a healthy heart and lungs, but you’re super strong. Hey, you might be able to run really fast to the end of the block, but you’re not going to be able to run any further than that. Vice versa for people who are really aerobically fit, but not very strong. I look at marketing as exactly the same thing that it’s not enough just to buy some Google ads.

Taren: You have to buy Google ads and then retarget people on Facebook. You have to not just have Google ads, but then you also have to have content. So content marketing, when people come to your website, if they don’t sign up. If people end up maybe signing up for the app, then you have to start thinking about how good is the onboarding flow that the entire system of marketing and of business has to be looked at as a whole, in the same way

Taren: that the body has to be looked at as an entire system. And if you’re just focusing on one thing, I don’t think you’re really going to get great results in fitness or business. It’s got to be looked at as this entire cohesive system. 

Brent: That’s great. Yeah. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Brent: So we have a couple minutes left. At the end of the podcast, I give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug, but anything you’d like to plug today and go ahead and plug whatever you like. 

Taren: The app would be the biggest thing. And I’m not saying that endurance sports is the key to everyone’s happiness, but if people feel a bit of a sense of unfulfillment and want to challenge themselves physically, I can’t think of a better place to do it,

Taren: but in endurance sports, because it is so fulfilling. It’s so rewarding. When you have a well-designed endurance sports training plan it does address your heart health, your lung health, your strength health, your mental health, your emotional health your digestive health. All of those things should be addressed in a really well designed training plan.

Taren: And when you cross that finish line, you’re going to be really happy that you challenged yourself. So I think we have one of the best offerings of any endurance sports app in the world right now. And it’s only getting better. This is the year that we’ve been building up towards over the last three years.

Taren: So I’m really excited for everyone that’s on the app. And if people sign up over the next couple of months, they’re going to see a lot of things that start getting rolled out with all of our features over this year. 

Brent: Yeah. And I would just add on that. Now as races start opening up and the world starts getting back to normal, this is a great time to train for a race, to sign up for a race, to do a race and apps like yours, help people to track and build those habits that then turn into

Brent: something that is part of your lifestyle. And I think there’s always a joke about, how do you know if somebody is a marathon runner? They’ll tell you. How many marathons, how do you know how many they’ll tell you? So you just, like you said, in the LinkedIn example, it’s part of their persona.

Brent: I’ll have to look at my LinkedIn. I don’t know if I say I definitely my Twitter. I tell you how many marathons I’ve run. I’ve run five majors. I only have one left, which is Tokyo 2023. They’ll tell you what those are. This is a great way to get into those habits and build healthy habits.

Brent: My dad is 83. He ran until he was 75. She still tracks his miles walking. He’s his goal is 700 miles a year walking this still. It. It is well documented that being active is better than being sedative and as much as much fun at it as is sitting on the couch, watching Netflix, drinking beer, and eating Cheetos it is equally as fun and free in some people’s minds, either, biking for 56 miles or 112 miles, and then running a marathon.

Brent: And by the way, before, I’m starting that I’m going to swim for a two miles. Yeah. A little warmup. So you know that there’s an equal amount of like in both of those, for the type of people. Some of those behaviors are learned behaviors and you don’t have to do a marathon. You can do 5ks. And there’s an incredibly amount of fulfillment in doing a sprint triathlon.

Brent: And my whole family is into sprint triathlons and it’s now turned into a family thing that we do together. I’m just going to go back to having that place to track those habits is so important because you know how well you’ve done.

Taren: Then having a community of other people who are also going towards similar goals, the community is very important that without a community around you, to support you, things are going to be really hard without a community around you to celebrate your wins. Things are also going to be really hard, the community aspect of things, sharing in other people’s successes and other people sharing in yours, it makes it so much more fulfilling that’s when you start getting the people that have triathlete in their LinkedIn bio, because it becomes part of their identity.

Taren: And it’s not to say they can’t ever have beers or pizza or Cheetos or whatever it is, but you can offset that a little bit by doing something for 60 minutes in the morning, challenge yourself and feel really good for the rest of the day and really proud of what you did every single day and string a few days like that together

Taren: and you’re going to be able to step up to a start line that you never expected you to be able to do. 

Brent: Terran Gesell. I thank you so much for being here today. I will put the links to your app in the show notes so people can go there and sign up. And I look forward to someday participating in a race with you, maybe the half Ironman in Kona.

Brent: Yeah, what’s ed life is 

Taren: getting back to normal. We gotta start thinking about that again. This is awesome. 

Brent: Absolutely. 

Taren: Thank you Brent. 

Brent: You’re welcome.

Talk-Commerce Andrew Barkan

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Talk-Commerce Alvaro Verdoy

A Better SaaS PIM with Álvaro Verdoy

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Listen to the episode with Chirs Johnson

Talk-Commerce Chris Johnson
Talk-Commerce Chris Johnson
Talk Commerce Rob Holthause

Pros at Subscriptions with Rob Holthause

Brent speaks with Rob Holthause from Subscribe Pro. Rob focuses on helping businesses improve their efficiency and grow their revenue while building a loyal customer base. Rob is a native of Maryland and is proud to call Baltimore home. When not educating customers about subscription marketing and Subscribe Pro’s products, Rob can be found hiking and playing with his Chocolate Lab mix, Atlas. He teaches music lessons on the weekends and plays bass with the popular Baltimore-based reggae group, Can’t Hang.

Subscribe Pro is a subscription commerce solution that enables brands to offer auto-ship, subscribe-and-save, monthly box, and recurring billing programs on the Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud e-commerce platforms. They provide a thorough interface for customer service personnel to manage auto-ship or auto-replenishment programs and allow customers to modify subscriptions easily.