Russ: This is the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com. It's guest time once again on the BusinessMakers Show, and with me now I have Jim Prather, founder and CEO of YouData. Jim, welcome to the BusinessMakers Show.
Jim: It's great to be here, Russ. Thanks for having me.
Russ: You bet. Well, let's start by you telling our audience about YouData.
Jim: YouData's a whole new online ad model that we founded up and started about three years ago. It really goes after some of the pain points that we saw in the online ad space, namely, individuals pushing away and not wanting to look at banner ads and the like, a lotta clutter in their life. So we've all kinda figured out how to avoid the ad online. Of course, then the problem with the advertisers is then they can't reach those people, so they're very, very frustrated and not able to target, not able to get the attention of people.
And then, finally, we work with as a third part of our model, the publishing sites, people that wanna monetize that content. 'Cause if nobody's clicking on the ads, they're not making any money.
Russ: Okay. So let me make sure I've got this right. You're taking into consideration the end user, the person that's just on the Web -
Jim: You and me, absolutely.
Russ: - the advertiser that wants to get this person's attention, and then the media company that publishes websites, like the thebusinessmakers.com, right?
Jim: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.
Russ: Okay. And so based on your description sounds to me like you have a way that all three of those parties come away happy. Is that right?
Jim: Happy's a great word. We like that word, absolutely.
Russ: [Laughs] All right. Man, that sounds like a miracle to me. Okay. Explain it in a bit more detail.
Jim: Okay. So let's start with the consumer. Consumers out there, they go online. One of the things we allow them to do with YouData is anonymously - not giving up their provide information - but create up an online profile of themselves. That profile would include the things I'm interested in where I live, at least in a ZIP Code area, kids, interests and hobbies, those kinda things. And do that through surveys.
Now any of those traits when you create up that profile become targeting traits for the advertiser. See, advertisers say, "I wanna reach mail golfers, 25 to 35 years old living in - I don't know - five ZIP Codes around my new golf store." Perfect. Target down the audience. Those become the only consumers with those traits that that advertiser reaches with their message.
Russ: Okay. And so if I'm the website visitor and I'm the YouData customer, I'm kind of implying I don't mind seeing ads that have to do -
Russ: - with golf courses, golf equipment and -
Jim: That's right.
Russ: - and new - okay. Okay. That's interesting. So answer a survey and sort of create this demographic of who I am, and that's gonna determine what YouData shows me in ads.
Jim: That's exactly right. And the nice thing about that is you're determining it. It's not a cookie or something behind figuring out who you are and creeping around behind and tracking you and seeing what you do. You're saying, "Hey, here's what I'm interested in."
Russ: Okay. So is that the only reason why I would wanna do it?
Jim: No. We throw another little bonus in. Every time you give your attention to it, you actually get rewarded for viewing that ad, whether that's a text or a banner ad that you're clicking through to, or we've just released our video ad player where if you pay attention to it, you actually get a small reward for your time.
Russ: What kind of reward?
Jim: Ah, a dime, 15 cents, 20 cents.
Russ: Okay. But money.
Jim: But money, real money. That's right.
Russ: Okay. And I'm probably more inclined to click on 'em because they're things that I said I'm interested in.
Jim: Yeah, and like 'em.
Russ: Yeah, okay. Interesting. All right. So the way YouData makes money to pay these customers is you have these advertisers that say, "I like your model. I wanna get in front people that like what I do," and so that's sort of your selling proposition there.
Jim: Exactly right. So for the advertiser if I could target that exact 5,000 people I wanted to be in front of instead of trying to reach 100,000 people and hoping someone might click on or view my ad, we give 'em that very targeted way, and we give 'em a way to absolutely measure the attention paid.
Russ: Cool. It's a little bit similar to the way that advertising works on Facebook because you can - as an advertiser, you can go into Facebook and say, "I just want people that are interested in scuba diving and this," and my ad shows up there. That's kind of it. But on Facebook, you don't get paid for it, so -
Jim: You don't, nope.
Russ: All right. All right. But people can't make a lot of - you can't do this as a full-time job.
Jim: No, no, no. This is not a second job. Please, do not quit or job and expect us to - absolutely right. And in addition, you run out of ads, because that advertiser doesn't want to pay for your beer money if you're a college student, and he wants to be able to reach people, but control also on a one-to-one basis how many times you get it or how often you get that ad.
Russ: Right, okay. And so and then the third party or the media companies that say, "Hey, this is a pretty cool way for us to present ads to the people that visit our sites that want ads that they wanna see."
Jim: That's exactly right. So the publishing sites, the ones that have great content, they've done a lotta stuff online, they've spent a lotta money on this great presence online, one of the big frustrating points out there is, "Now, how do I monetize that? How do I make money at this?" And in the past, it's been, "I'm gonna sell some real estate on that. I'm gonna put banner ads up there and -" but nobody's clicking on 'em.
Russ: Right. Well, for, geez, two or three years now, the click-thru rates have been just ridiculous.
Jim: And going down.
Russ: Okay. So do you know what your click-thru rates are?
Jim: Absolutely. So I can tell you industry-wise on those banners, it's something to the point of on an average .005. So 1,000 impressions, 5 people click through. Now I've been in lots of presentations where I give that stat and people are going, "Yeah, and we think those five people are mistaken." We're like, "Well -"
Russ: [Laughs] Right. They shouldn't have.
Jim: Well, maybe, maybe not. But what we're able to do is by putting the ads we have in front, our statistics are showing that the click-thru rate is 95 percent.
Russ: Wow. So -
Jim: It's an engagement. It's not -
Russ: Yeah. And I guess it's believable because I mean, it is what they said they're interested in.
Jim: That's exactly right.
Russ: And you are paying 'em.
Jim: That's right. Those are motivating factors. Relevance and reward, that's always a good thing.
Russ: Absolutely. All right. Talking to Jim Prather, founder and CEO of YouData, and we'll be back with more with Jim after this. You're listening to the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com.
Russ: This is the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com. And continuing on with Jim Prather, found and CEO of YouData.
We mentioned up front that you're the cofounder, and so you have a founding partner?
Jim: I do, Trae Nicolson. Trae and I actually have known each other for, I don't know, seven or eight years now. He brought this idea kind of - he's been germinating it for a long time. And interesting enough, it's just really been over the last three or four years that technology, bandwidth, all the things that we needed to make this thing work really existed. So -
Russ: Okay. Well, what sorta goes through my mind as a businessperson is that sometimes the challenges. It seems like one challenge is that, wow, when you sell an ad and you bring a dollar in here, you kinda split it three ways, right?
Jim: That's right. Everybody's getting their little piece of us.
Russ: Right, right. So if I were an advertiser through your site, would I expect to pay maybe a little bit more than you pay for a regular banner ad?
Jim: Oh, absolutely. What we like to look at is what are you paying for an engagement? So if an advertiser goes, "Well, gosh. I get 1,000 impressions and spent $20.00, and now I'm only getting in front of a few people for that same amount of money with YouData -"
Russ: Right. But the quality -
Jim: That's exactly it. So if I could say, "Well, great. Well, tell me about that direct mailer you did two weeks ago and how much you spent and if you had a one-percent hit rate, you're probably slapping high fives right now." What we're saying is 95 percent of the time, you truly are engaging with that consumer, and it's a very targeted audience, not one you just guessed at.
Russ: Okay. I wanna get into some actual operation, but -
Russ: - before I do, just curious, where do you guy spend most of your time? Trying to get more end users or media players or advertisers?
Jim: That is probably the biggest management challenge is always how do we get these chicken and eggs kind of lined up the right way. So we have really entered into some very good partnerships with other media companies, 'cause, of course, that's the publishing online side where we are partnering with them on not just raising awareness for additional me files and getting them signed up, but also working with them to reach their advertising customers. So we get kind of a three -all three aspects handled with that, publishing, consumers, and advertisers by doing these partnerships.
Russ: Right. Who are some of the examples of publishing -?
Russ: Right now, we started out a couple years ago when we released the first version of the product with the mommy female blogger market.
Jim: So we had some really great partners in the form of Jenny Lawson and the Bloggettes, Anna Kurtsey, Momma - some of these really great sites that said, "All right. We like what you're doing. We like how you're respect the audience. What we did was grew very quickly, like you said, which growing first, we grew very quickly on the me file side. Had a great national audience.
Russ: Now when you say "me file side," that means -
Jim: It's consumers.
Russ: - consumers that signed up, right?
Jim: That's exactly right.
Russ: But if that's happening a whole lot and you don't have a lot of sponsors, it doesn't work very good.
Jim: Yeah. There you go. So suddenly, you're going, "Oh, my gosh, we gotta catch up on the advertiser side." And so within that, we said, "Well, we've got -" three or four months ago or about a year ago we had about 20,000-30,000 people signed up, and we were like, "Okay. This is going great." How do we get local, though? Because if I had 20,000 or 30,000 just in Houston, just in Dallas, just in San Francisco, I'd have a critical mass there.
So what we've done starting back in November is we partnered with local media centers. So we probably at that point had about 400 publishing sites, mostly in the mommy female blogger side. Now we're starting to work with key individual media sites that are very locally oriented, so newspapers, radios, publishers, those kinds of people.
Russ: All right. If I went to one locally, eventually I would maybe see something that encouraged me to sign up -
Jim: Exactly right. Our little ad player resides on those sites. Where you might see a banner ad, you'll see the YouData ad player.
Russ: Okay. Well, let's show that a bit here.
Jim: So one of the key newspapers we started working with about three months ago was the Tyler paper.
Russ: In Tyler, Texas?
Jim: Tyler, Texas.
Russ: Wow, okay.
Jim: That's right. Little old Tyler. About 100,000 people live in Tyler. If I had one or two percent of the population of any local area, I'd have a pretty good critical mass. Well, with 100,000, you don't have to have too many. So we're almost at - I think we're right at one percent now signed up in two months.
Russ: Cool, all right. That's great. Cool. So one would go online at the Tyler Newspaper and -
Jim: That's right.
Russ: - they would see that, hey, YouData wants some information from you, and sign up.
Jim: That's right. So here's our little ad player. It actually is a little portal into the YouData system. You can get more information, a little two-minute video to describe it better. It's a place also where you can sign on and get a me file. And then finally, it's also the same place where you can log in with your account and get your ads. Okay. So it kinda serves three different purposes.
So let's say I signed on here, and the next thing I wanna do is look at my ads. Now remember, what's happening behind the scenes as you tunnel back, you've got your ID. You've described yourself, and the ads you're gonna get are going to be very tailored to exactly your interests and your - things you like, your demographics.
So I click that. We dim the background. A couple things happen is there's the ad player. I see that I've got a combination of both some banner text ads, things that you click through to. I don't know who they are. It's anonymous until I interact with those ads.
You'll see also there's a tab there that you can see video ads. So that, we just launched. It is beta and it's working pretty cool. And the same kinda thing where I have to interact with the ad before I get rewarded for my time.
So now we've actually helped both groups. The advertiser got an audience. They actually engaged with the ad. You saw that I went through a lotta steps just to get those ads. I get rewarded for my time. I get something relevant message-wise. And behind the scenes like you said, the publisher whenever I interact with these ads, is getting rewarded, too.
Russ: I think the relevant information, to me, is the key thing. I mean, that's why I ignore banner ads all the time. They're hardly ever about anything that I'm interested in. But when I do see one, I'll go, "Hmm." And I guess if you have a me file through YouData, you know you're gonna see things that are of interest to you.
Jim: Yeah. And what's cool about it, we've had a couple people describe it different ways. One of the cool ways I thought was really accurate was it's almost like for an individual, a reverse search. So I go out there and I put all my interests out there, and I get advertisers looking for me. Very different than the other way around.
Russ: All right. Well, Jim, this sounds real cool. What's the status of the company today?
Jim: We're real excited. We - as I said, we started these very cool partnerships in Houston. We're actually just about to launch our partnership with 1560 the Game.
Russ: Okay. It's a radio station.
Jim: Radio station here in Houston. And that's gonna be very cool for reaching problem males. Not a lotta women on the sports talk radio, but they should be. But our ad player will be on their site. It actually is on their site. And we'll start working with their team there to really promote it.
We've got another two or three of those similar-type media partnerships we're about to launch. The company itself is doing great. So as I said, we had 20,000-30,000 about this time last year. We're now almost 90,000 people signed up. The magic 100,000 number is coming soon and we're looking forward to that.
And then as far as just the advertising base, it's growing every day. We've got probably over 200 advertisers we've worked with. It's funny. We made probably half a million payments to individual since we've started. We thank God every day for PayPal. So it's a good thing.
Russ: All right. Cool. I bet so. I bet so.
Jim: Push a button. So we're real excited.
Russ: Great. All right, Jim. I really appreciate you having me here.
Jim: Thanks, Russ. Appreciate it.
Russ: All right. You bet. That's Jim Prather, founder and CEO of YouData. And you're listening to the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com.