Affiliate Marketing

[Video] Exclusive Interview With Josh Keller, Part 1: How USM Maximized Native Conversions

Lauren Pica
Lauren Pica
|  

Josh Keller — AdTech Veteran. Native New Yorker. Serial Entrepreneur.

With over two decades of Performance Marketing experience, having launched nine companies — from an all-things Native technology to a tequila brand — Josh has generated over $400MM for just one of those businesses since inception as the Co-Founder of Union Square Media.

And while he may live and work out of Miami, he has not lost one ounce of his no-BS New York spirit — or hunger, as he continues his entrepreneurial takeover, business after business.

So, if Josh says “Jump” (or, “Invest!”), you bet I’d trust him enough to do so.

We were somehow able to land time on Josh’s calendar (no easy feat!) to get his inside perspective on Media Buying in today’s climate. And he gave us so much good perspective that we couldn’t fit everything in one little article. So, similar to our series with Affiliate Expert James Van Elswyk, we’re breaking down this exclusive interview into three parts:

  • Part I: How Union Square Media Maximized Native Conversions
  • Part II: Continued COVID-19 Advice For Affiliates
  • Part III: Native Ads vs. Social and Search Ads

So, let’s jump into Part I, yeah?

At Outbrain, we have the very lucky pleasure of working across a number of Josh’s businesses, including the heart of his venture capital firm Global Agora, Union Square Media. Maintaining a variety of lead generation-focused sites, Union Square Media was looking to maximize exposure and inclusivity to their latest Auto Insurance comparison site, partnering with Outbrain to expand their reach and drive high-quality leads.

We’ll let Josh tell you the rest…

Q: Tell us about your Maximus technology, and how Outbrain fits within as a go-to traffic source.

TL;DR

Maximus helps streamline Native automation across a number of traffic sources, and Outbrain happens to be the best partner, technologically and collaboratively.

TS;WM

“Maximus was built in Union Square Media as the tool to make it more efficient to have a Native media-buying team because when I was learning myself and trying to do all these different networks, I was going crazy because they’re all different, and each one of them is like a full-time job, especially if you have to be changing bids and stuff.

So, I needed a way to have everything in one dashboard. And then I built it, and it was working so well, I was able to build a team of I think we have 13 people now. And I was like look, if anyone wants to use it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t let them use it because we’re never going to be able to cover every single vertical. We do really well with e-com, health and beauty, lead generation — but there’s plenty of other stuff out there. There are digital downloadable games, and the financial lead-gen products like Agora, and so many other different products that I figured hey, ya know, people would really have an advantage by using this.

But Outbrain has been the easiest partner to work with on the Maximus side, for sure, as far as Tech and collaboration, by far.

If I didn’t have Maximus, I’d probably be using Outbrain because they have the best technology, and while they don’t cover all the premium news sites, they have enough for someone to get started with, if they were only doing one thing.”

Q: And how would you describe your relationship with Outbrain?

TL;DR

Collaborative — every Outbrain Rep is fantastic.

TS;WM

“I would describe our relationship as collaborative, and that the Reps are constantly looking for new opportunities to help us with.

We’ve had different Reps. And we also had another Rep, Kathleen I think, who was great — she went to Facebook. She was great, Danny was great, Bryan’s been great, Roy’s been great, so it’s not even like, a lot of times, you just have one great Rep then they leave. But who’s ever doing the hiring seems to be pretty good at their job.”

Q: Touching on Outbrain’s Customer Success Managers, let’s dive into the success story with Union Square Media. How did you first discover there was an opportunity with Spanish-speaking audiences in the United States?

TL;DR

Outbrain brought us the opportunity for cost-efficient expansion.

TS;WM

“Two different things that we’ve done with Spanish, but you know, even just getting into the case study and kind of the reason why we were even were alerted to the opportunity of Spanish-speaking people in America was because of Outbrain. They aggressively let us know that there was an opportunity there, and we kind of chased it down and kind of ran with it. But, we would not have been doing it at all if it hadn’t been for Outbrain.

And, not only does it work on Outbrain, we were able to bring it over to Facebook as well, Spanish-speaking people, because there are 60 or 70 million people in the United States — I don’t know what the exact number is — that speaks Spanish as a first language, but also, can speak and read in English. 

But to Outbrain’s credit, we would not be doing, and we’re doing a tremendous amount of business with Spanish-speaking people in the United States on Native and on Facebook because of the Reps were aggressive about letting us know about that opportunity.”

Q: How have you expanded this Spanish-speaking audience opportunity beyond Native?

TL;DR

Native was the proof of concept, and gave consideration to test on all other platforms.

TS;WM

“And, seeing it work on Outbrain gave us the confidence to try it anywhere else. This is the same thing with, if I make it work on Facebook and I knew Outbrain had big Spanish-speaking sites that were going to help us, we would try it there.

So, we’ve actually tried to bring it out to Yahoo, and they have very small amounts of Spanish traffic, so it actually hasn’t been worth our time.

We actually found that Outbrain has the biggest Native Spanish audience out there, so I don’t even know if there is a like a Spanish-only network that even exists — I don’t think there is. So, if anything, Outbrain’s the place to go for Spanish-speaking native traffic.”

Q: Roundup! If you had to drum up your Union Square Media + Outbrain experience in a few sentences, what would they be?

TL;DR

“Simply, the best” (cue Tina Turner song).

TS;WM

“One, we would not have known about this opportunity with Spanish-speaking if it wasn’t for Outbrain’s Reps. Two, they’re highly collaborative and bringing us opportunities that we didn’t even know existed. And three, if I didn’t have Maximus to make my life easier, Outbrain, by far, has the best technology of any of these networks.”

Wrap Up

If you now have Tina Turner’s “The Best” stuck in your head… you’re welcome! 

But that’s just it, eh? Teaming up with Outbrain, Josh Keller and Union Square Media continue to experience the best Native performance across both their clients’ and internally owned and operated campaigns.

For more details on Outbrain and Union Square Media’s partnership, be sure to check out (or download!) the full case study here.

Hope you enjoyed Part I of our exclusive interview with entrepreneurial powerhouse Josh Keller — and be sure to keep an eye out for Part II next week, as Josh homes in on all-things COVID-19, and insights for Affiliates to not only weather, but overcome the continued storm.

And hey, if you’re feeling inspired by Josh’s words to test a Native Ads campaign, check out our Affiliate Strategy Hub for more freebie learnings. Might even influence you to check out the Outbrain dashboard to discover the experience yourself.

Until next time!

Affiliate Marketing

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Lauren Pica

Lauren Pica

As the brains (and voice) behind the Outbrain brand communications (and our Head of US Marketing!), Lauren spends her days of marketing scrappiness doing everything in her power to gain and retain happy customers.

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