Apparently I know stuff, at least that’s the impression people have got based on 10 years of building ad tech. Our customers seem to value my opinion, which is a weird place to be in when I can’t even convince my kids that “the red jumper REALLY doesn’t go with that t-shirt”.

Regardless, the powers that be at Red Volcano have convinced me that I should write blog posts more regularly. I’m doing it under four conditions.

  • It will NOT be a thinly veiled attempt to sell you our products.
  • I’m going to write how I speak, this isn’t intended for A+ professional consumption.
  • It may be anything tech related, not just ad tech.
  • I get rewarded with a packet of Jaffa Cakes after each post.

If they don’t come through with point 4, I’m dishing out P45’s like it’s a mayday parade.

So these first few posts are really a summary of my journey through ad tech so far, I hope you find it amusing because to be honest, you probably won’t learn much.

Without further ado, it’s 2007 and I’m at an affiliate marketing company saying “You’ve got to be shitting me!” a lot.

*cue wavy lines as we go back in time*

The math was simple, Sky TV (basically a Herr Murdoch TV network in the UK) was willing to pay £75 for every new customer we sent them. If you stuck a Google search ad up advertising Sky TV it cost about £1 per click, but about 1 in 45 who clicked actually signed up. “You’ve got to be shitting me, so every time we spend £45 we make £75?”. Yup! This was the wild-west ladies and gentleman, where you could print money from affiliate campaigns and the business owners would spank the cash on sports cars that depreciated £1000 a week (true story).

However, there was a problem – we weren’t the only one advertising for those eyeballs. So what do you do? You enter a “maximum click price” in your campaign. Easy right? Well, as it turned out, it was also very easy to force your company into bankruptcy. You see, competitors realised that they could simply set their maximum bid just £0.01 lower than yours and keep increasing it to push your click price higher and higher. Also, if they did this in the middle of the night (when you are fast asleep, dreaming of Jaffa Cakes), they could get an army of “friends” to click your advert. Result? You come into work the next morning to discover you’ve burned through £50k overnight for no sales.

Yeah, I know “You’ve got to be shitting me!”. Guess “David” (real name changed to protect the innocent) will have to think about selling that Aston Martin (real car included for accuracy).

What a shit show. Anyway, I spent my time there building code to stop “burning” from happening, meaning we simply turned off the advert if we suspected we were getting f**ked. It worked. I soon left.