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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

John Cole is the CCO of Ezoic. Ezoic is a Google award-winning artificial intelligence platform designed to automatically test ads, website layouts, mediation, and more to increase ad revenue and optimize user experiences at the same time.
John is the Chief Customer Officer of Ezoic. Formerly an officer in the British Royal Navy, John was a founding Director of Media Run Group – which started several online businesses in the mid 2000’s (Media Run Search, Media Run Ad Network, and Blowfish Digital Ad Agency). Following the acquisition of Media Run Ad Network by Adknowledge Inc in Oct 2007, John managed Adknowledge in Europe, which included the Super Rewards virtual currency platform (which monetized Facebook, MMO & Mobile Games) & Cubics – the first Social display advertising platform inside Facebook. After a brief and successful foray into the world of independent online publishing (he was founder of UK website operator ‘Epirical’), John sold his online interests to Ezoic in Dec 2011 and joined as CCO. John moved his family from London UK to live in San Diego in August 2013.
0034 John explains that Ezoic combines ad-testing, CMS and UX; and dives into some of the complexities of multivariate testing
0205 Why did Ezoic stay in stealth for three years?
0400 Even though the company has pivoted, the central idea has remained the same: where and how an ad appears on a page is as important as retargeting and context.
0500 John explains that Ezoic bought 500 websites, and used them to test and hone their theories
0715 The secret sauce is achieving the balance between UX and monetisation - the assumption is that one usually compromises the other.
1055 John talks about the human cost of staying in stealth for three years, and resisting the urge to shout about Ezoic from the rooftops
1400 Does staying in stealth for three years to undertake a long period of testing and re-testing mean that you guys are anti-'lean startup'?
1540 John explains the strategic rationale behind the choice of the name 'Ezoic'
2300 What's next? Times are exciting at Ezoic - making acquisitions and winning awards!
English
United States
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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00hello and welcome to the latest in the boulders in podcast series armband goes by that I'm here with John Cole he's a CCO of exotic welcome he's all like you're testing about 4 hours and ulcers websites based on user behavior is that description it says it's been taking us a long time to come in for you to come up with what we off because we started this process of automated multivariate testing makes us at the things that we do we were actually changing it all products like to see him as soon I'm proving that the layouts and improving performance so what's going on at second bordering on kind of user user experience Improvement but it's kind of like a holistic testing platform if you like
00:00:59Italian after listing and testing platform what you do is you help Publishers and companies make that have to work harder for them Multiverse Sessions Court Hunter to you in a little bit baby testing and then you go to ABC and when you talk about multivariate testing a lots of different things and I'm going down that route you get to the point where you have you actually talked about all special intelligence when a system is learning from the different inputs and signals what's changing and you know I'm main product is good at where to find publishing pocket with Google we will keep those first North American AdSense partner and I'll system ultimate step process of testing different positions to improve Revenue but also to improve user experience and refocus just as having on user experience who publishes has we doing Revenue Improvement so quite unique
00:01:59that takes a little bit of explaining because it's quite pretty I think you wanted to talk to you about most was something that I think you need is quite particular to make witches for 3 years so he had a Cubix which was the first I'd Network inside Facebook application so if and when Zynga was producing in a phones have phone bill let you know something that will crop so the rest of it putting the ad said that that's that's basically what his system did and I know it was sold to a company called adknowledge and my business meeting run I was one of the founding director
00:02:59take me to run out to say uk-based inetwork we sold our business to them so we we then became colleagues and myself and Dwayne and a whole bunch of the guys together and I must be nearly 10 years now and I've been sending in this one but when we started off really what we what we had was just an idea and we took us a long time to prove a series and I'm done if you want to. Usually has lots of different reasons but alternates to avoid Swatch from competition you know when your competition to find out what you're doing early you have a technology that might be difficult to defend to defend if everyone knows what you're doing three things like a very long time even with others in mind so what was the initial idea the kind of first is a record I did it change during the 03 s
00:03:59I mean we came in so we raced we race for bulletin and at the end of a 2011 so it's quite a while ago now and at the beginning we were proving a theory which is it it's no sim the performance that you get from advertising on a site and it was a dunning's as much as important to consider where the ads are the page as to whether he has come from and I'm pretty much the whole lot Tech is about seems to be about trying to improve the ad quality in the ad appropriateness number as the Right add to the right person the right time and that's what about retargeting what can text or talk to me what we were looking at was where the odds on the page how do they affect user experience and then how does user experience affect overall a Dennings because if you add more pageviews you make more money the bounce rate goes down you make
00:04:59so anyway love notes to ask you a question why did we spend all this time when we went and bought a whole bunch of web sites so we bought 400 websites we invested about 5 million dollars obviously when you have raised Venture Capital money and you're trying to buy a small to medium-sized websites to do on your experiments on you don't want people knowing that you phrase music is always see the price will go out who these guys I look at my phone line so that was it there was a practical reason the other reason was we want a hundred percent sure that what we had was a could be a product so we built this thing for cells to manage 400 sites to do the automated testing so what we would do is ruin by a website in a $50,000 and we found that we could get our money back in a year to 2 years so I can invest in these were all kinds of websites
00:05:59keyword searching software for ourselves that enabled us to identify stars that had what we cool Evergreen content I think that's so these things that people will look full 5 years from now I'm looking for today and look for 5 years ago if you can buy website that ranks well for those the chances are there between concerts going to stick around and still give me useful so if your nails Brook all of these principles we specialize in buying these kind of sites which mostly were being built by hobbyists to take any sites try different layouts of the same contents has two different themes make it mobile enables make a tablet enabled and of course I put more ads in appropriate
00:06:59that's out if it was spamming people away at the end of the three and a half years of doing that we felt like we had a product so we just then started bringing in and when you ability to eat you know the way you talk about it you say we were building these systems for ourselves will you knowingly building them to eventually become the easy way products Suites Owatonna Master combination of deliberate building on your part and happy accident in certain circumstances it's 5 and say oh yes that was my intention I think we was had a few if you want effectively doing up websites using that isn't itself as a thirsty business you know you need to put more more counseling in order to get generator returns but it's a little bit like to please
00:07:59but what we realized was we have something that a lot of people struggle with which is he to how do you balance user experience and monetization in a how do you continually test without spending loads of time and effort like how do you build this which wind system and then when we came up with the platform the first product that we had didn't work when we spend a long time and a lot of effort making that well so that's become a reality for us was when we were looking at how well we were doing that people don't like this Ashley what it was I'm getting people to sign up to automated both we're testing of everything so the background the color that the same and I'm sure that was the difference between switches you get to really be laser focused on what you're testing in the was
00:08:59what we felt was correct because if you could bring the bounce rate down on the time on side of the page views but is it up. User experience is improving now if you are obviously works on a site for 10 years and you're using the system Cody's Avec and you're saying my size was look the same and you guys changing it I don't like that that's my that's my baby that's really hot and even though the bounce rates going down and even though the time so it's going up the page because it's going to buy the money's going up they still didn't like it and that product Market fit was in it and it was a loose if it was a little bit like jump into cold water instead of Dipping a toe and then we came out with you I test the product we should only changes potential add locations on the page
00:09:46that's ready when we kind of hit the ground running that's when the two you know the Venn diagram that sees circles intersect it and started over laughing that's when we that's a really interesting point on the human head weighs the same thing because of the improving that websites and you were making them more money for Matt's people just don't like they're like throwing stuff away that they love almost a month it was only people who would just passionate and they said based an objective
00:10:28which is not the majority of the population but I know we have something that is much easier to swallow an easy to use and put all that stuff so looking back at hotel. Progressed we had to go through all of that time but two bit to two remaining and stuff but it's actually quite it is quite hot is hot as it sounds before about this subject. But I found interesting one of the things I found interesting that you said was that you know I was thinking about it from the business point of view and the logical reasons for doing it which makes sense especially in hindsight not doing well but it was the personal effect or the as you just started the Ego cost of staying silent about something that you were excited about the three plus she is just going crazy with this it was it was 350
00:11:28senate members on his own for a while putting the first engine is too old friends of his I came in a little bit after that and I was the only person over here in the UK I was on my own so I'm running a European business as the European MD within a whole bunch of people in an office and then I was in an officer barber shop on my own for 2 years he was buying websites his phone but on your own you know you can turn yourself off he is and I'll just come back and then we inner we built up a business since we've started accelerating you know it's that again nobody can
00:12:28some people kiss it really early and a lucky they have an Insight other other other of us you know if you are solving a difficult problem sometimes you going to come at it from different angles and you may it may take you longer than you think so I think one of the things that makes this diff difference in a whole bunch of engine is let's build this thing it does have a hundred engine is because I actually what we what we built may not want this particular thing
00:13:14it's right through things away move on you know keep moving fast and is trying to put your ego aside and say okay look at the numbers. So what king what you know now with hindsight is that the process words and it seems like a very sensible patient if so three year-long process to build a business but it also feels like it flies in the face and soda prevalent startup culture which is like building done and you know those kind of minimum viable product to know the old days kind of things into words rhyme with Lean Startup culture was a very conscious decision not to build that way and to do the testing in this huge a kind of mole mole longer when did fashion
00:14:16everybody knows other startups that well that would help from the outside looking in a lot of them seem to Pile in on things like marketing way too early and other one customer facing products you need to understand those customers and you need to understand what they want and I do believe that if you have you know a thousand absolute fans you know that is actually true you want those people to be absolute loyalists but it get them you've got to engage with them and any way to do that is to do it slow did she actually to to get loyalty and then roll on from there but yeah that's the way that we made you know that me and Dwayne a kind of in a week we had business is run businesses extra businesses before we know that you Yukon
00:15:18Perpetual on the fire for the gas on the fire until you've actually you know that fit with what people really really want and that's the best explanation I can come up with something else that we mentioned before which links into this very strategic control for the park approach to every part of the business is the choice of the name is because it doesn't mean anything but like why was the story behind it and very strategic thinking as to why you know if I don't call him in it so I wasn't no one's use before and is a rationale behind all of that so it's going to that I took my hat to join right now basically what they do in a coffin Warehouse very good
00:16:18and the business moves on right now in a Sonic in zoic has in age like Paleozoic but really it was five nights at. Come if you look at Yahoo look if you Google those words that actually mean anything they become a business off to the fact that they feed names and what we've done with these zoic his give us self room to maneuver and the name is actually the only name in this space cuz we are only the only people in this space doing exactly what we do with the only ones so putting ourselves and in an odd fishing intelligence platform 5 years ago would be great you know we didn't actually probably know what that's fine that's what we would become and I went we started off for the investing and then we were going to
00:17:18you shouldn't let your name be your marketing you should allow you more time to develop into the products the business know what you thought about when you first name the company so you have an example of why every step we take along the Route we think things through which is fine. You don't have nothing nice about strategy sessions that you should do that we have done quite a few of but you have this right so competitive entrance into the market it will come in and try and copy what you do if you have a name the does what you do they can come in and cook it at name make its license similar and then they just diluted you about 8 if you could host name so hopefully Google
00:18:18age well, another thing I wanted to ask because especially now I have a very good reason you are working with artificial intelligence on you are testing products to make make it more intelligent decisions as to how you recommend people realtor that's nice and Cetera let's talk about that how does that work when did you so to bring that in computer program and condensed milk with makeup to my location is now what is the difference between algorithmic Optima
00:19:18Mission and artificial intelligence Sunny the way I understand it I mean the kind of description of this from from The Tech Guys but
00:19:28algorithm a kiss when you know the promises you know the signals that you want the system to look at and give an answer. For example bounce rate time on side pastries visit on one side and a density on the other you can say on this particular page how many ads are there and if these affect these user experience metrics that for the answer is X that is an algorithmic decision no special intelligence decision making process of doing that is not knowing what the signals are they important that asking the computer to work it out for you so that's if it's on Poole Road connection speed from your device isn't is a picture of you of you experience which we know which we know that it is the number on the page that where they are how they lose each other the value of each and the type of that
00:20:28the particular landing page the user is on in Ocho on and on that so many factors involved as their presence of sidebar on my way there is this basically goes into this enormous database millions of rows of deja and you just let the System Shock through and say I would like you to work out for these results and fight for the system to learn and understand what are the most important signals not for asses engine is to write an essay and into the program and Sadie's all these other than the fact is that just a hold of the fact his and you working out that's basically my my best explanation of what artificial intelligence does traditional publishing contacts what it does is it removes the kind of Human by cities and preconceptions that you as an engineer would have pre-loaded the system where the algorithm
00:21:28shipping objective about the day so that's physically with another changes in an ad Tech and if you like where you have promises like you going to see which is not order of Revenue yet it's coming that way but you know if your abilities another factor and then you know he works down in business intelligence really is about trying to make sense of things but getting the computer to work out what are the questions as well as one of the answers if that makes sense but I think the reason why they excited about artificial intelligence is the speed of advancements in at the ability to be able to I'm going to move that needle it is Extreme I mean you know we see sights for extra Revenue
00:22:28in a few weeks and it's it's exciting to see out of course you know one of the reasons that we were in school. And that's where that you need to wait until you go to the product before you then you pilot thanks I'll let you know I just to finish all this talk about it he's all right now because that's like the last 6 months you've won awards uncensored only getting out 3 or 4 months ago you quiet I'm going on yes yes we are both at your money and hide all these engineers and you know try to prove all around series but actually now is the time that way all week and all of this kind of stuff
00:23:28anybody wants to join in Southern California Southern California
00:23:40it's it's exciting I've been here before you get that feeling in a business when things take off and an end Things become slightly easier I think old entrepreneurs know that grind it's almost let you know the flywheel if you started like at the store is like to try to crank this handled as moving this enormous Stone going around around running really slowly as you as you don't have to put the effort in that it says it is chugging away so yeah we've grown you know 3x will be like today figures turn over this year for tax office here in London and we're looking at me looking at other offices
00:24:40so you had a time since we both those guys is a plug-in they they had a bunch of some really nice publishes so we effectively it was an acquisition that in a pretty much paid for itself so yeah I mean it's it it is exciting times we've been here before we go over expandable thing that we know everything you know slow and steady wins the race and we hugged exactly then he's patient and intelligent strategy LED building of a business it feels

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