At the beginning of the year, Ton Dobbe, founder of Value Inspiration, invited our CEO and Co-founder, Peyman Nilforoush, as a guest on his podcast. The two of them do a deep dive on several topics to include:
- The story behind inPowered
- What’s broken in the advertising industry
- The frustration and inefficiency behind interruptive advertising
- How to scale content amplification
- Why content engagement is the most efficient metric to measure performance
- How AI can move brands from paying for clicks to paying only for post-click content engagement
- The future of advertising
Since Ton doesn’t transcribe his podcast we thought it would be a good idea to share the complete transcription below and the embed of the podcast above for the inPowered audience.
Ton Dobbe: 0:07
Hi everyone. Welcome to the value inspiration podcast. My name is Ton Dobbe and I’m the founder of value inspiration. The purpose of my company is to help business software companies. We think what can be to become remarkable again. The goal that I have is this podcast is to inspire a new forms of value creation by sharing compelling ideas and stories about the potential that we cannot look at technology and people blend in the right way. So my strong belief is that we can think big and therefore we should doing so will help to create a better world for all of us in this podcast is all about that. The guests on my podcast this week is Peyman Nilforoush, CEO and cofounder of inPowered.
Peyman Nilforoush: 0:49
What we saw in the journey leading up to inPowered was essentially interruptive advertising not working. You’re looking at 0.05% not 05% not 5% 0.05% CTR on a banner ad. That’s on average and that’s after using tons of technology and targeting and everything that you can imagine. This is not about, you know what technology is talking about targeting. It’s not about the audience. It’s not about any of that. It’s really about the form, which is when you’re interrupting somebody, you know, they, they they don’t want or they don’t want to engage, they just tune out. Did it as an experiment ended up delivering a 65% increase in consideration. It just blew up every single, you know, advertising we’ve ever done.
Ton Dobbe: 1:41
This is Peyman. He’s the CEO and cofounder of inPowered and AI company that enables fortune 500 brands to discover and amplify trusted content to educate consumers and drive sales. Together with his brother, Pirouz, he previously founded NetShelter in 1999 which became the world’s largest technology property on the web before being acquired by Ziff Davis is in 2013. The company’s fast growth earned numerous distinctions in the Inc 500 and Inc thousand, Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Profit 100 in the San Francisco Business Times. Peyman is a media entrepreneur and a visionary and he has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and he was named in the 2010 who’s who in business publishing by B2B online media business magazine. He was also the recipient of the Prophet Hundred Young Entrepreneurial Award for being the youngest CEO on the profit hundred list of fastest growing companies in 2009 and by listening to this podcast, you will learn three things. Firstly, why if you want to deliver a real impact, you’d better stay away from the conventional wisdom and approach the problem from the opposite direction. Secondly, to truly disrupt the market, you not only need an excellent product, but also a revolutionary business model. Shifting from consumption to outcome-based charging is one example of that. And thirdly, why is it not only possible to delivery remarkable impact for your products, but also to create many jobs on top of that.
Ton Dobbe: 3:20
So Peyman, thank you for being on the podcast. Thank you for making time for this and to give you all a little bit of an idea about who you are? Can you share a little bit about your history and your passions?
Peyman Nilforoush 3:32
Thanks for having me man. Born in Iran. I grew up in Toronto, move to the Bay Area and uh, right after the recession actually 2008 and we’re like, okay, it’s a good time to build a company in the Bay Area. So we moved. But uh, I’ve grown up in the advertising business. So, uh, my brother and I, back in 99, started a company in Toronto in my parents’ basement called NetShelter. Ended up bootstrapping that all the way to 2008 we did 26 million in venture capital, move to the Bay Area and ended up selling that company in 2013 to Ziff Davis. The journey was all focused on making digital advertising work and really scaling it in one category. In our case was selling banner ads to Fortune 500 tech companies that were trying to reach really [inaudible] blogs. They would have a very tough time reaching otherwise.
Ton Dobbe: 4:43
Interesting. So you sold it and then, and then you started inPowered?
Peyman Nilforoush: 4:48
So we sold it and we started inPowered. And what we saw in the journey leading up to inPowered was essentially interruptive advertising not working. And people ask me, what is, what’s interruptive advertising? I would say like, well, all the banner ads, the popups that are blocking user’s experiences, that thing just didn’t work. So when we started NetShelter in 99 I always say this at every conference, people get a laugh out of the click-through on a banner ad was over 10% and today if you look at a banner ad CTR, right? The spreadsheets that you know, an agency would look at it every day. You’re looking at 0.05% not zero 5% not 5% 0.05% click through rate on a banner ad that’s on average. And that’s after using tons of technology and targeting and everything that you can imagine. So when we looked at that and we looked at our clients and we were like, well you know, this is not about, you know, it’s not about technology about targeting. It’s not about the audience. It’s not about any of that. It’s really about the form, which is when you’re interrupting somebody, you know, they, they, they don’t want to know. They don’t want to engage. They just tune out.
Ton Dobbe: 6:01
Yeah. I got to realize I can only say you’re right on that one. Cause interruptive advertising for me doesn’t work either. So what is the big idea behind inPowered then?
Peyman Nilforoush: 6:11
So the big idea is essentially, you know, if banner ads and interruptive ads don’t work, you know, in 2013 were like, well what’s the next, what’s the future of advertising? Because if we can’t make advertising work online. Digital publishers are going to die, Facebook is going to die, Google is going to die and then nobody’s going to be able to pay their bills. So, so we’re like, okay, there’s, there’s gotta be a way to do this in a much more consumer friendly way, in a way that it actually, that adds value to the consumer. And our idea of that was, well we learned a lot from NetShelter. There are networks which had a ton of amazing, you know, blogs and we’re like, well consumers want to read. They want to read online. That is something that natively, they do online, they love reading.
Peyman Nilforoush: 6:56
So what if instead of putting banner ads interrupt their experience, we actually turned articles, reviews, blog posts – only kind of content – into an ad and we get them to read that content and hopefully it’s positive content, talking good about a brand or giving them information about that brand or getting more excited or inspired or anything about that brand. And by doing that we’ll get them to engage something that they’re not doing with banner ads because it doesn’t add any value. And we can do that at scale. That’s key now. Right. So you’ve talked, we’ve seen native advertising, advertorials, you know, content marketing. You know, the problem is it hasn’t been able to scale. If we can do that at scale, then that could essentially replace display advertising. You could replace interruptive advertising and it could huge win win for everybody. Right? Marketers, we get much higher ROI because you know, you can only go up from 0.05% CTR and then consumers get something that actually adds value to them.
Ton Dobbe: 8:01
Yup. Interesting. And I think you’re right on the reading part. It cause that’s what people will typically go out for. They want to learn, they want to, they want to educate himself. And once that is giving the right message, they will, they will engage.
Peyman Nilforoush: 8:15
It’s become our, uh, you know, our sort of a tag tagline because one of our first clients was LG and LG, you know, was fed up that their banners weren’t driving consideration. So they were like, listen, we’re LG. We are not Samsung. We don’t have billions of dollars. We need to get results. They just launched a new phone. And they’re like listen, our problem is when somebody goes to a store to buy Android, not Apple, we’re not competing with Apple. If they want it buy an Android phone, you want them to actually know about LG and ask about LG because today when they go to the store they just say, hey can I have a Samsung phone please? And you know they are like, they were getting amazing reviews. So we’re like, okay, what if you took those reviews and amplified it using us.
Peyman Nilforoush: 9:09
We’ll get it across every single native channel and ah, you know, we’ll get a lot more people to engage with your brand on any kind of banner ads. Did it as an experiment ended up delivering is 65% increase in consideration. So we measured people before they read the positive review about lg. And then we measured it after they read the reviews and people, you know, basically showed that they were much more like, we asked the question of why are you, are you likely to consider the LG phone after reading this article? And we got a 65% increase in consideration and it, it, it, it just blew up every single, you know, advertising they’d ever done. Got all the way to the CMO and in the next couple of years they essentially made amplifying articles, amplifying content as a core strategy for every single product launch, for every single announcement and then they started building it as an annual, always on, into their media plans.
Ton Dobbe: 10:13
Pretty compelling. So, so who was your, your, your, your key role of your targeting? Is it, is it this, the, this of course the marketing team or is there any sort of specific in the marketing team that’s going to benefit from your solution?
Peyman Nilforoush: 10:28
So when we started it was all about the digital marketing managers, directors at the clients. They were obviously extremely, you know, frustrated with the ineffectiveness of banner advertising and they’re like, oh, we need something different. And they were willing to give anything that was compelling a shot. So those guys would leave it up. They would, you would us a test and they would, they would want to see the performance. As we started kind of scaling the business what became pretty clear is, you know, there’s a huge problem they’re trying to solve, which is when there, there were, there were doing it the old way right there we’re going taking a piece of content. You’ve seen this as a sponsored post on Facebook. Everybody takes a different review. They put it on, you know, Facebook and buy sponsored posts, they put it on some of these native networks, Outbrain, Taboola [inaudible] the content recommendations that everybody hates [inaudible].
Peyman Nilforoush: 11:30
And they tried to get people to read the article. And what they’re telling us is that listen to so much clickbaiting going on and when that happens, because all I’m focusing on is changing, give them a catchy title and get somebody to kind of click but what we’re measuring on the backend is like anywhere between 65 to 90% of people that click bounce because we clickbaited essentially. So doesn’t work. It’s not very scalable. You know, we want to get people to to stay down and read it, read the content. This was literally the most important decision we made for inPowered, which is like, you know, you’re a digital advertising director and you’re trying to get somebody to engage with the content. We will actually charge you for engagement. So we said, listen, we’re not going to charge you for clicks. I’m not going to charge you for impression.
Peyman Nilforoush: 12:16
As somebody who spends their minimum 15 seconds and we’ve got the 15 seconds from a study a company called Chartbeat had done, that showed if somebody sits there for 15 seconds they are going to 80% of them we’re going to finish reading that article. And we’re like, okay, so that’s a great, that’s a great, that’s a great threshold and we’ll charge you, we’ll charge you for that, you know, 15 second engagement, otherwise you don’t pay anything. They love that. And the client [inaudible] love that. And then they started talking to their agencies. So they’re, you know, the media buying agencies that were previously buying banner ads, you know, they got a lot of the clients excited about it and we got them excited about it and [inaudible] we started meeting with ad agencies. That part was a little tricky because you know, typically ad agencies are not necessarily designed to do something different and innovative.
Peyman Nilforoush: 13:08
They want something that is, you know, kind of fit the box. So, we start, you know, building a whole framework around what is this? And we’re like, okay, you guys want to call it native advertising, content marketing, whatever bucket that kind of fits your, your, your, uh, budget. But ultimately, you know, let’s do this in a, in a way that’s very scalable. And we focused on kind of going back to the beginning of the call where you’re like, you know, technology plus, you know, service week we started billing if pretty deep AI machine learning algorithm in order to deliver content to consumers at the most efficient cost, focusing on engagement. So focusing on getting somebody to read the content at the cheapest possible price and spending more than 15 seconds there. And that’s when we got the attention of the ad agencies, they’re like, okay, you give me price efficiency, I’m buying media, you’re going to get me much, much better cost than anywhere.
Peyman Nilforoush: 14:09
Any other, you know, any of the ad networks [inaudible] I’m using your platform. And programmatic was obviously taken off and we’re like, listen, this is a programmatic way to distribute content guarantee that it’s going to be more most efficient. And then we started delivering results. That’s when we started getting a real scale behind our business. And, and the ad agencies start to, you know, LG was with one ad agency that started telling, you know, the same ad agency had an account, had had the Jaguar Land Rover accounts and so on and so forth in this, so, you know, the word started spreading and they started getting excited about us.
Ton Dobbe: 14:52
This powerful, right? I mean if you start to the whole history of being about charging for output and now you’re starting to charge for outcomes, which is a win win for it’s a big win for the customer, but also the best incentive for you to make your product even better. Exactly, exactly. And I mean, who doesn’t want to go for that? Because I mean, if there’s no engagement and you don’t, you pay nothing.
Peyman Nilforoush: 15:11
So yeah, and that mapped back, you know, everybody, you know, I think it was at the time a company called Notes, uh, was just acquired by Oracle for like just under billion dollar. And their entire focus was getting marketers at tension-based metrics instead of click-based metrics. So these pendulum was starting to really swing toward attention, engagement. And that’s what we were, we’d be delivering to them. So they were really getting excited about that.
Ton Dobbe: 15:40
So, so one question that comes up, if, if your platform, I mean the, the, the digital marketer is providing the content, then it goes through the best form and you figure out who to, who to bring it to. At what point in time to increase the engagement. Do you also come back to the, to the digital marketer, we’ve recommendations about how to improve the quality of the content?
Peyman Nilforoush: 16:04
You nailed that question because that’s literally what happens. So, so what happened is, you know, we’ve, we’ve had a couple of, auto has been a big category for us and because, you know, people read reviews before they buy cars obviously, and, and that’s, that’s really been, you know, tested and, and, and very, very effective when, when, when they’ve done it with us. So one of the, one of the major auto manufacturers literally started, you started using our platform and we started obviously distributing your best reviews, uh, Car and Driver, all the different kinds of websites, some of the blogs. And they, they started kind of measuring what’s happening. And they had assumed that the cars, that a sport car at this sport car is actually should be targeted target demographic for this are male and younger, right? 18 to 25 and we started just sharing the content and we’re like, okay, we’re getting literally the highest engagement towards the female and a little bit older that completely different that assumption.
Peyman Nilforoush: 17:11
And we’re like, listen, you know, this is not just like, you know, hundreds of thousands, this is getting to be millions of dollars that we’re spending. The results are consistent. So we sit down with the cloud, we’re like, guys, we, you know, part of this, we do a quarterly business review with the agency and the, and the client direct and we look, guys, this is what’s happening. And they’re like, wow, this is, this is news to us. So they literally took that information, they pass it to their content creation team, their CMO, and they’re like, listen, we really get to a change, or not change drastically to core, but really refine our messaging and you know, obviously refined the contents that we’re creating to better align with this, this target demographic. And it actually made a significant difference. And we’re now seeing this over and over again. Actually one of the Forrester analyst whose name is Ryan Skinner and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll tell you, I’ll send you his contacts, but he’s been talking a lot about what you just said, which is the distribution strategy that you put in for your content as a feedback loop that directly informs your content creation.
Ton Dobbe: 18:25
Yeah, yeah, of course. That’s, that’s uh, you’re giving it in a more, in a more, how do you say that human the way, it’s hard to say because you analyze the data and you, and you provided in a quarterly review, but do you believe that your solution at the end, we’ll also come back with prescriptive guidance from a technology perspective. So that’s, that’s the AI is really talking back to the, to the public creators in real time.
Peyman Nilforoush: 18:49
So yes, the short answer to that is yes, absolutely will be built is it is a software and you know, login, you know, see the contents that that’s, that’s most uh, you know, sort of like getting, getting the highest engagements out there, find the contents that is telling this story and they use our platform to amplify it and then see where it’s going, the nice engagement and what demographics and on across what channels and what time of day and all of that data kind of, you know, using that input to, to, to create, you know, better and more aligned content. And so, you know, today that’s possible, right. An agency or brand could literally log in and do this and get that data in near real time. Right. And have a very sophisticated content creation and amplification strategy that is aligning with the consumers on a near real time basis.
Peyman Nilforoush: 19:53
The challenge that we’re seeing a lot is, you know, most of the agencies have the brands, they’re very much understaffed, right. As you know, they don’t really have the manpower to be able to do this. And in those cases what we do is we really partner up with them we’re like listen. We have account managers, we have experts that are very good at this and you know, we don’t want this to be a long-term thing. We just want this to be getting you guys on board, getting you guys train, getting, getting you guys really getting value. And then at some point the sooner you’re able to sort of take over and so running this, A: the more value you get out of it, B: the less cost for you and see you now have to act in real time using technology.
Ton Dobbe: 20:39
Exactly. So out of the development process, because this had been going on for a couple of years now, what have you seen is the one, two or possibly three most remarkable things that you’ve done to the platform to create, to create the impact that you want to create right now or that you are creating right now?
Peyman Nilforoush: 20:48
Yep. So this actually happened in a particular order for us. So the first one, probably the biggest one right, was right off the bat, the decision that, you know, we’re, we’re getting this feedback from our clients, right, that clicks are not working for them impressions and not working for them. And engagement is an alien again. Right. That was really a fundamental decision that we made was in leap of faith because, you know, not every marketer was there four years ago when we first started. And that was a huge decision that, that lead us into big brands taking a chance on us. You know, we’re a small startup. Yeah, we’re out of San Francisco but there’s a lot of hype here, you know, that doesn’t necessarily have substance.
Peyman Nilforoush: 21:44
And it took a chance on us and we really focused on making it work for them, making it perform for them, you know, no matter what, just like, you know, getting them their results. We did that with, you know, we’ve done that with auto, consumer electronics, travel, finance, beauty. So various industries. And as we did that we’re like, okay, so, so now what’s the next, the next thing we got to solve for for these markers is price, right? So they’re paying, you know, x amount of dollars per engagement. And when we first started the company that x amount was $5, very expensive to pay for engagement. But you know, obviously they love the quality and were the first platform, the only platform out there still today. But we were like, okay, we to really scale this, we got, we got to work on this price.
Peyman Nilforoush: 22:34
So you know, we, we today we’re able to offer this at 50 cents to a dollar. It’s a dynamic pricing. And what we’ve done to enable this is essentially four years of heavy development and backend sort of, you know, machine learning, AI, literally using engagement data. So this is all so many clicks on already call free, go to upside. They go to Car and Driver’s just sort of reading an article. We have, we have iframe technology that enables us to collect engagement data and then being able to do that, you know, using, you know, millions of dollars in advertising spends across various categories all of a sudden and we find ourself with is very rich engagement data that we can, we start now, you know, wanting machine learning and AI algorithms to essentially figure out if this is content about an SUV, luxury SUV, we’ve done it for five clients.
Peyman Nilforoush: 23:30
We’re starting to see a very clear pattern of where it’s getting the highest engagement, what image, what title, what channels, what targeting, right. And we’re now connected to 40 different native advertising channels. We started with Facebook and Yahoo. We’ve added essentially every native network, Outbrain, Taboola, Triplelift, you know, Sharethrough all of them. And we’re like, okay, now, now we get to get, we got, we got, we need the machines to really deliver. And as, as we started seeing, you know, how, how effective that is. I mean we literally went from $5 to 50 cents like, okay, this is where we got to really invest. So, you know, it helps to be in the Valley because we have access to some of the best, brightest [inaudible], but it’s also extremely competitive as you know. So we started really focusing on getting just key talent, people that are, that want to be able to start up to really kind of focused on building the algorithm and building the technology.
Peyman Nilforoush: 24:28
And you know, when we launched costs, dynamic cost per engagement in the summer, we put up our press release is it’s on our website. It basically, you know, eliminating ways for paid content amplification using artificial intelligence and providing them with a dynamic price where if they start, you know, when the campaign started, if the cost per engagement was a dollar and we got it down to 50 cents, they pay 50 cents. And it also incentivizes them to run it for a longer period of time. Because if you’d launched for, you know, a month, it might get down to, I dunno, 80 cents if your runs for, you know, six months to a year we could go down to 50 cents, maybe lower so that because the longer it goes, the more he learns. So that essentially we call it became a real core for our business. So that’s, that’s a second thing that we did that I thought was, was key to our success.
Peyman Nilforoush: 25:23
The third thing was, you know, we’ve always said this business is all about our people, right? It’s about the people that we have and their passion for building this company. So we really started in kind of bringing subject matter experts on board, people that are on the account management side, on the sales side, they have a real passion for amplifying content and for content marketing. So, so kind of taking that approach of like, you know, you all go out there selling your product, go out there and offer a solution and be very consultative with the brands to figure out how we solve problems for them. And that really made a huge impact for us.
Ton Dobbe: 26:04
Exactly. Yes. Put Up, I mean is it, this is the way you should launch a product. Good, good stuff. So I mean was there anything in your, in your, the journey of the product strategy or, or the whole, the whole product journey where you said no to? I mean, of course when you start getting going so many different directions, where, is there anything that you deliberately said no to because you wanted to stay on track and to deliver the vision as it was created.
Peyman Nilforoush: 26:31
So I wish I had my brother and Co-founder on this call because he’s literally the visionary that’s built the entire platform and he’ll tell you that on a daily basis he was making decisions on, you know, go on a completely different direction and making decisions that would have taken us on a completely different, in a different direction. And I think to his credit, because of the vision that he’s had for this company and for the product from the beginning, he’s literally kept the product so on track to deliver engagement using artificial intelligence and results. And we, you know, there’s, there’s so many distractions, right? For example, you know, the ability to find you the best content, right? Or, or even the ability to go out there and create content or the ability to, you know, to, to go out there and like, you know, create, create this amazing sort of like, you know, content recommendation engine right.
Peyman Nilforoush: 27:32
There’s all these things that you can do using, using the technology. And yet we really stayed focused on one thing and one thing only, which is delivering engagement with the content. And then, you know, mapping back to the clients KPI. One of the things that we’ve done I think really grounded us and the product. We created an advisory board early on of not of not just random people that are smart, but our clients really, our core clients. And it has been tremendous, you know, as you, was one of the first ones we added in numerous different that, you know, that are just literally the people that are running the show at the different brands on a very tactical level. We do a 30 minute call with them, try to do it on a monthly basis. It’s very focused on the product and on their biggest problem. And some of the things that, for example, the clickbaiting, the need for engagement and need for a call to action after somebody reads an article as a result of direct input from them. And we took that to heart and we prioritize those features.
Ton Dobbe: 28:37
Yeah. At the end it’s about creating the biggest impacts. But sometimes customers don’t want they know what they want, you know? But uh, and that’s, that’s the art I guess.
Peyman Nilforoush: 28:45
You know, man, that’s so true. That is so true. And I, again, going back to credit to my brother Pirouz as kind of the visionary for the product, you know, it’s like asking a question of what is the problem and what is it that they’re not getting and listening and understanding not just what they want, but what do they truly need.
Ton Dobbe: 29:10
There’s different ways to kind of go about this. And this is a definitely one way to do it. So, I mean, out of all the lessons that you’ve learned so far, selling this and getting this to market for a marketeer that’s listening, what would be advice from you? How should the market [inaudible] start to think different here?
Peyman Nilforoush: 29:30
So I think you know, almost all our adult life in advertising. We’ve seen the whole gamut, you know, things that obviously used to work, they work anymore. You got to take it to you, a different stab at it. The consumer is different. So I think what’s always worked in advertising and even in you know, different industries is you’re looking at the consumer looking at their journey, right and understanding what is the journey that the consumer is going through. Just actually came off, came back from Vegas JD Power. We had an entire session on how artificial intelligence is the eliminating paid media waste for content amplification. And in that presentation the focus was this is auto market or so we focus on the journey that auto, uh, auto consumer takes before they buy a car. And you know, Forrester has put out this that, you know, it takes somebody 11 pieces of content.
Peyman Nilforoush: 30:30
You have to have 11 pieces of content before they purchase a car. Every CMO that went on stage talked about there’s 26 different touch points before somebody purchase a car. So really focusing on what the, what their customer goes through the consumer journey and really studying that understanding that LG did the exact same thing, every survey that we’re doing because our consumers are relying heavily on reviews to make decision on understanding that consumer journey is so key because once you understand it, then you start thinking, okay, if I’m putting out, for example, banner ads [inaudible] bombarding people with that, but the journey’s completely disconnected. My customer is actually reading content to try and figure out what to buy and then [inaudible] pretty quickly when we go out there, you know, other innovative companies there, let’s look, this is important. They connect, right? Even even though we’re talking about it, a benefit and a company and an a product, you know, obviously we need to get better, you know, companies do to be better at what the marketer would really connect with them if they studied their consumer and I understand that behavior and align their strategies and don’t be afraid to change, you know, and take risk.
Peyman Nilforoush: 31:50
I mean, in our case we’ve had marketers that I’ve taken the risk with us and you know, it doesn’t have to be expensive. We start, we do start some someone who’s an issues with you know, aren’t a thousand dollar test or $150,000 test and all of a sudden that’s net to multimillion dollar buys because once we prove it out with a test, it’s easy to justify the spend.
Ton Dobbe: 32:12
Especially when you have a pricing model that’s about engagement. Yeah. Because I mean the, the, the, then the engagement will, will translate into, into business. I think part of where we are today with how new artificial intelligence is to many different organizations. It’s also about, you know, at what point in time or someone say, you know, enough is enough. I mean maybe they say, okay, if I have 1% click rate or on on banners, well that then I’m doing a real kind of a relatively good job as if it’s one and a half percent and doing a fantastic job when I don’t realize it could be 3% or five, you know, it’s like challenging the status quo. And like what you have in your hands.
Peyman Nilforoush: 32:40
You know 30 40 pages research recently is called the end of advertising as we know it and I’ll actually send this to you because I think you would appreciate it. They are literally focusing on the consumer and their journey and how interrupted advertising is essentially completely like throwing your money away. And it is, it is powerful because they’ve looked at data across different verticals and they’ve studied the consumer and they’re like, you know, this is so obvious and so clear that it’s actionable and I feel like that is when you’re like enough is enough.
Peyman Nilforoush: 33:48
I mean have you had those conversations? I would tell you in the past four years we’ve been evangelizing for the first three years, the past years we’ve been having a lot of great meetings where in the meetings we’ve had major CMO or VP or Director at a major brand. Literally tell their team to listen, banner ads aren’t doing anything for us. Why don’t we just cut most of the spend and move it to content? And they’ve done it. So that’s where, that’s where, you know, now it’s not every brand, it’s something innovative brands and you know, you have the leaders and the laggers, but uh, it’s definitely, it’s definitely moving in that direction. But to your point, I think there is going to be an inflection point where the majority of the brands are just going to say, listen, this thing is just not working. Let’s stop it.
Peyman Nilforoush: 34:34
Let’s move on to, to stuff that’s working. That’s a decision. So what’s next for you? What does your greatest aspiration? For us, you know, I think looking at this market and we [inaudible] our last company and it was all of that, you know, we want to be a category leader [inaudible], NetShelter was biggest in the tech tech technology media was so define, it was seeing at Ziff Davis, you know, uh, IEG and we’re like, we’re number one. We have the highest reach, high scale, we win because we have, we have the best solution for the marketers. And Ziff Davis bought it for that reason. They want it to be number one in the category. For inPowered, you know, the vision is, you know, in order for content distribution to replace interruptive advertising, you really need the Ai to create real scale. And we’ve invested heavily in that and we’ve done that, you know, would a bootstrap startup, you know, with our own money, no, no external capital, any of that.
Peyman Nilforoush: 35:37
And we’ve done it effectively and now we just got to really take that to the next level, right? So using the success side of what we’ve had in different categories and helping marketers in those categories that are currently not necessarily spending a lot of their money in content distribution to see the results and then, and then start moving in that direction. So our goal is literally being a category leader and really the only platform that marketers use to amplify content. And if we’re able to do that effectively, we really transformed this industry. And, and that’s what we, that’s what gives, everybody here a lot of passion.
Ton Dobbe: 36:23
Ok, here it is. So what is your big ask and how can people listening to the podcast, how can they help you?
Peyman Nilforoush: 36:27
So, you know, I think from a standpoint of, look, the biggest success we’ve had been marketers is they’re the ones that are the ones that are really taking chances and they’re like lets listen, listen to the consumer, let’s figure out what they’re doing and try to try to go out there and you know, learn the consumer and do something different and you know, make an impact for the brand. So, so the biggest asks for us is like, you know, listen to, you know, what’s happening with, with your buyers, right? If you’re in, if you’re selling insurance, you know, if you’re, you know, like I always give this example of a Wells Fargo, which is actually one of our clients. They have been doing a tremendous job creating content. There are content creators themselves, you know, they have their own blog and you know, I read a contact, you know, read a piece of article yesterday.
Peyman Nilforoush: 37:22
It was about how you manage cash flow as a business. And I’m like, listen, this is really valuable content. But I would read that, I mean, we have a sophisticated finance team, but any business would read that and would get value out of it. And I’m like, okay, what if every brand really looked at content distribution and content, you know, both the creation of content and the distribution of content and look at it as if they’re thinking about their search strategy, their social strategy, and they actually form of real content strategy a real content team, a content department and really did this in a significant way. I think that will put them ahead of their competitors in a big, big way. And I think, you know, if we can be, we can’t have a part in helping them get there and helping them have the proof points and the results to make that happen and get the budgets. I mean, that’s, that would be the biggest kind of impact that we can hopefully make for them, for the industry.
Ton Dobbe: 38:24
Where can people go to find out more about the company inPowered and uh, to say hi to you?
Peyman Nilforoush: 38:29
Yeah, so very, I’m very social, you know, LinkedIn, you know, you reach out on LinkedIn. So, you know, I’m very much looking forward to connecting to new people. So just just, you know, send me a message to connect with me. Easy, very easy to, to, to connect. Definitely on Twitter I have a really funny handle called @ThePeyman. My first name Peyman. And a funny story is basically I can get my own handle so I had to create a different one. So that’s me on Twitter and email at firstname.lastname@example.org, you know, I read every single email, respond to it. Love to connect with people that are passionate about content, content marketing, content distribution, advertising, you know, obviously artificial intelligence. What is it’s done for our business has been transformational. If it wasn’t because of AI, machine learning, obviously we wouldn’t be able to offer the value that we do, and offer the most efficient cost per engagement and all of that stuff. So you know, engineers, you know, people that are kind of like really deep in machine learning that one or just talk, I mean our CTO, one of the smartest guys you know, he’s been doing this, obviously my co founder, you know Pirouz and built a great great platform. So even if you want to bounce ideas, do meet ups, all of that stuff, we’re up for it. You know, we’re startup bootstrapped, profitable in SOMA in San Francisco and we’re, we’re definitely up to throwing events and do all that kind of fun stuff to kind of gang all this together and learn more about artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as a, you know, content marketing native advertising and you know the industry as a whole.
Ton Dobbe: 40:23
Cool. I was sure people reach out to you so thank you very much. This was really inspiring and I’ve learned a lot myself but a very strong points. I definitely like your [inaudible]. Actually one of the few that I’ve spoken to so far, if taking the commercial model to it to an outcome based model, which I really really like.
Peyman Nilforoush: 40:42
Thanks man. I appreciate it and thank you for reaching out and please keep doing it. I feel like there’s more and more needs for podcasts like yours where you’re really kind of talking about, you know, what is the, how do you create a technology and combining the people to offer value. I couldn’t agree with you more that there’s a lot of like the opposite viewpoint, which is like AI is going to take our jobs and like, and a lot of that is not true. It’s, it’s, it’s really about AI and, and, and kind of augmenting technology to offer people to offer the most value. So please keep doing it and appreciate, appreciate the time.
Ton Dobbe: 41:22
Well, thank you very much. I will for surely keep doing this because this is definitely something that I feel passionate about.
Peyman Nilforoush: 41:29
Awesome. Thank you.
Ton Dobbe: 41:30
It’s always a pleasure and for everybody who’s listening today, thank you for tuning into this podcast. I had the honor to speak to Peyman Nilforoush, CEO and cofounder of inPowered. The goal of this podcast is to share compelling ideas and showcases to inspire what can be a technology and people blend in the right way. It’s my strong belief if too much focus is put on automating people out of the process. In other words, cutting costs rather than scenarios where the unique strength of people are augmented with technology to change the established rules and to deliver a value that was unimaginable before. So with this podcast, I want to make a contribution to change this, to create a broader awareness of what can be, to accelerate the adoption by bringing them together you a tribe of likeminded people and organizations. And lastly, to accelerate the initiatives and solutions that could be created because what are the inspires the other? So if you know about stories that are worth sharing, please send me a message. Building the momentum all starts with revealing the ideas. And that starts with you. If you want to have more information, read my blogs or obtain information on working with me, just visit me on my website, very inspiration.com. Thank you for tuning in and you could do me a big favor by rating the podcast or provide me with your feedback. I’ll see you shortly in a new episode.