I am especially pleased to announce this next interview and it is with none other than the CEO of Cake Marketing, Jeff McCollum. We all know the BS we went through with our previous tracking platform and Jeff and his team went out of their way to “help” us. Ever since then I have been a major fan of his and finally caught up with him at ASW2012.
1) Hi there Jeff, please tell us something about yourself and how you got your start in this industry?
Growing up in Palo Alto I was surrounded with some of the most amazing cutting edge companies, which sparked my interest in pursuing jobs within the “technology” field post college. My first job after college was at Netscape and it was there that I learned just how essential innovation, creativity and the ability to move fast really was. Several years later a friend introduced me to the world of Performance Based Marketing and I immediately knew that everything I was so passionate about was the very foundation ofthis unique industry.
2) Tell me something new and exciting about Cake Marketing and your role specifically.
We are constantly improving and developing the product with feedback from our clients and expanding into new markets, both internationally and domestically. So it is a very exciting time for us. One of the most notable features this month is the release of step pixels, which allows payouts on multiple steps of a user’s session and generates new streams of revenue for affiliates. In addition, the Cake platform functions as a full service solution, offering a lead distribution platform to maximize ROI by selling the data generated from hosted offers.Now if I have to pick one of the most exciting things to date, it’s hands down the release of our mobile app which allows network owners and affiliates to remotely manage all of their business operations.
What I really enjoy is working directly with clients to fully understand their business, the direction of it, and their goals so that we can work alongside them to make things happen. Whether this is new feature build outs that can benefit a single Cake client or the Cake community as a whole we love engaging with our users and working towards solutions. These synergetic relationships advance the quality of the performance based marketing industry by driving it to exceed its potential and always on the brink of innovation.
3) How is what you are doing different from the other tracking platforms?
Cake is an enterprise solution offering a global product with a large investment on its infrastructure to guarantee uptime to our clients. Not only do we offer unique and advanced tracking and analytics tools, we also provide development resources to work with our clients on customized requests. We do not classify ourselves as just software as a service, but rather a solution as a service.
4) What decisions have you made in your career that you look back on and felt were mistakes? What have you learned from them that specifically have helped in getting Cake where it currently is?
I should have started Cake sooner. Like the majority of people in our space I have an entrepreneurial spirit but sometimes the hardest thing to do is trust in yourself, your goals and to muster up the confidence to make it happen. Several years back I was presented with an amazing opportunity to start a company with some of the most remarkable people, and an incredible project, but instead of seizing the prospect I listened to the fears in me. The quickest way to end something is to not even start, or to give into the mind games. I learned a valuable lesson from this and my experience with Cake, if you believe in what you are doing, and you believe in the product then how can you not be successful?
5) Can you talk a bit about what Cake is doing specifically to combat fraud and more importantly is there something being done on a grander scale collectively to rid the industry of that?
Having previously owned a lead generation company, I know just how prevalent and damaging fraud can be, which is why we have been extremely proactive in building out tools within Cake to combat fraud. We provide our clients with preset fraud alerts, or if preferred the option to easily customize the alerts based on what would be indicative of fraud to each user. These alerts look at IPs, clicks, conversion rates, and several key indicators of fraud. I like to think of Cake as the dashboard or hub for any network. Our open API and scalable architecture allows for the seamless integration of just about any third party application for fraud monitoring and other types of services. There are so many companies devoted solely to the purpose of fraud detection that we like to act in our clients’ best interest and present them with the option to utilize Cake’s tools in conjunction with another resource, essentially giving them the power to decide what is best for their business.
6) What is your take on the whole issue with the MegaUpload mess?
During my employment at NBCi, I was extremely involved with the content creators in the Hollywood community and was always disappointed with the amount of time and wasted effort in trying to prevent innovation for the fear of losing control over the monetization of the content. Why not instead focus our efforts on improving the tracking and distribution for companies like MegaUpload so that the entire digital community can make money together. The Internet has vastly changed our ways of communication and behaviors, we need to embrace it and learn how to innovate so that we are all successful, after all it looks like it is here to stay.
Mobile tracking is the fastest growing sector, most notably within Europe, which opens the door for multiple opportunities. Cake has already launched numerousmobile tracking options and has just recently pushed out our own SDK for testing. We have our development team focusing on building out our mobile features to track both installs and in app purchases as well.
Another large opportunity for growth is with lead generation. Cake enables networks to create and host their own offers, which opens up an endless amount of revenue opportunities. We will be pushing out several new features that will fully support the specific needs in the Education, Cash Advance, and Insurance verticals.
8) Who are some of the networks and or industry leaders you hold in high regard?
One of the most influentialand admirable industry leaders who I always turn to for advice is Steve Howe, CEO of Convert2Media. He constantly looks for new opportunities within the industry and leverages different technologies or avenues to do so. He has continued to reinvent his company to always be one step ahead of the competition and is up on the market trends. His reputation within the space is untainted and I know many who hold him in such high regard as he continues to offer the utmost quality service to his affiliates.
Similarly Jason Akatiff of Ads4Dough is another friend of mine who holds high esteem within the industry. One of his most unique and commendable traits is his ability to provide an affiliate perspective from a network position. He is another huge advocate for pushing the performance based marketing industry to its potential and both creating and modeling higher standards for all affiliates.
9) What advice would you like to give the newer networks that are looking to get started in the industry? There are so many choices out there – what should they be asking or looking for that would make their decision process easier?
First off I would suggest finding out what you are good at and passionate about and focusing on those core principles. There are many talented people in this industry so for a new network to come along and think they can provide something for everyone is not realistic. Find your niche and stick to it. Secondly, outsource as much of the technology and “block and tackling” of our industry as possible. Due to the competitive nature you will most likely not be very successful if you try to do everything in house. My final piece of advice and one I think is so important is to focus on working with reputable companies and over time earn their business, don’t steal it. Networks come and go all the time, but the ones that have stuck around are those with proactive, approachable, and intelligent workers. Cultivate relationships, and build trust.
10) What takeaway should my readers have from this interview – is there something specific you care to share?
We are all lucky to have the opportunity to be at the forefront of one of the fastest growing industries. We need to work together to innovate and educate one another and create industry standards that we can all follow. Let’s push each other and keep one another accountable to build a sustainable and respectable industry.
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