Transcription: #23 - Armin Tüll: Outsourcing Paid Media
#23 - Armin Tüll: Outsourcing Paid Media


Aderson: I have spoken with Armin Tüll about the in's and out's of paid media advertising on Google and Facebook. We have spoken about what's hot right now in terms of ad strategy to get the best ROI's. He shared the two keys to selecting a great media company to work with, and he mentioned that results and communication are two essential aspects on having a great long-lasting relationship with a paid media outsourcing partner.

Hello, hello, Aderson Oliveira here. This is another interview for the OuchSourcing Podcast where I talk to professionals, business owners, to experts about outsourcing and the do's and don’ts, and how to make the outsourcing process better for everybody else.

Today, I have with me, Armin Tüll. He is the founder of AlterMedia which is a media agency focus on paid media. Armin, thank you very much for being here, welcome.

Armin Tüll: Hello, Aderson. Thank you for asking. My pleasure to be here.

Aderson: Perfect. Let's start with the basics here. I'm not going to assume that everybody knows what paid media is. Tell me, first of all, what paid media means.

Armin: In marketing, in media, there are three types of media. Its earned media, owned media, and paid media. The last thing, paid media, is what we are doing and what we are covering, and mainly, we can say it's like online advertising, and in our terms and what we are focusing on is mainly Facebook, Google, and Instagram advertising. This is the core of the business and what the paid media means for me, for us.

Aderson: You guys, your team is based in Estonia correct?

Armin: Yeah, we are based in Estonia.

Aderson: Perfect. Where are your clients located? Do you work with clients all over the globe? Tell us a little bit about your clientele.

Armin: We have kind of two clients. We have the end clients and agencies who we're working with. The end clients are small and medium-sized businesses located in Europe or located in the U.S., mainly, currently, and we are doing campaigns in 15 different countries and over 7, 8 different languages. This is for small and medium-sized companies, and as well as we are working for some media in marketing agencies. We don't have very special paid media team in-house or would like to get some more knowledge or some more resources for the major campaigns so we can help agencies as well. Basically, two client groups for us.

Aderson: In both cases, in a way, your clients are outsourcing paid media to your company either as an end client or as an agency working with you to provide paid media services. Which one of those two client types or client profiles are the hardest one to -- or let's put it this way, the most challenging one to work with, to deal with, and why?

Armin: Good question. Both are different with different focus groups for us, and are maybe expecting different things, and let's say, the media agency, marketing agency somehow like the middleman between the end clients. But, what's definitely common is they wait for results. They would like to see what results we can deliver them and what solutions we can provide for them. It's quite hard to see. Maybe it's working with the end clients is like -- what I prefer is where we can have person-to-person communication and we can really understand what's going on there, and we can really give them instant feedback and understand what they are thinking.

But, in the other ways like for the media agencies, we have quite nice tools who can do the work for them and we, as a partner, don't have to worry about the end client in communication there. We just do the best we can, and deliver the best results we can, and the communication is left for the agency. At the end of the day, different groups that we like to work with both, but at the end of the day, the clients and the end clients needs the results and needs to see if our paid media online advertising can really help their business grow.

Aderson: You said that you like the end client's contact. You like that, and I guess that when you go to an agency model, there's an extra layer of communication there. You have the agency and then you have the client. Usually, the agency that you work with, do they allow you or do they have you reaching out directly to their clients, or it's everything through the agency?

Armin: It depends, really, about the agency. We have both ways, and usually when we begin the cooperation with the agency, maybe at first, we are behind the scenes, but once they see the results and see that everything is working, and we have some ideas, then at some point, they might see that including us to the client meeting or in some communication, this makes a lot of sense, and makes things easier, and smoother. In this point, we have been taken behind the table, and we can be discussing whatever the case is with the end client as well. So then, they can really see like who is doing the work, who has the ideas and stuff.

But, at the end of the day, working with agencies, the agency decides which way to work. We are ready to do both ways and whatever the situation in the agency is, we try to figure it out at first, and when we need to change something in the communication brand, we can do that. With the communication, would it be communication with the end client and through the agency is one of the most critical parts like in our work. I think, in any kind of business, communication is very important.

Aderson: Again, you make it clear that first you need to build trust with agencies, and then they may or may not have you talking directly to their clients. But, let me ask you that, because the initial stages, you may not have direct contact with the end client, what kind of processes do you have in place that will ensure the right questions and the right information gets collected by the agency from their clients? What processes do we have in place for that?

Armin: We have a special like questionnaire information we need first to make a proposal or what the solution could be for the clients, and once those questions are answered -- so, would it be like a face-to-face meeting, could it be just questionnaires for the agencies to ask the end client? Once the questions are answered, then we know like what the business is all about, who is their target group, their target market, their problems, their budget. We really want to know their business, and their business goals, and business strategies. Once we know that, we can offer them the right solutions, whatever their solution will be. Would it be search ads, banner remarketing, whatever it will be, we tried to understand the business model, take our tools, our weapons, and see like how the two can match, and therefore, the agencies, we have, as I said, the questionnaires. Maybe it's quite simple for them to gather this information before turning to us.

Aderson: You said the questionnaire will give you information to propose and to suggest, recommend which best approach to use for each case. Can you talk a little bit about the different opportunities or approaches that you may recommend to different clients? Just brush through. We have paid Google, and paid Facebook, and paid this and then go a little deeper to talk a little bit about the different strategies there. Just brush through the different strategies.

Armin: We basically would like to understand where the company is in this business case or growth case, and we kind of divide sales cycles into three main categories that usually has been done. It's like the awareness phase, consideration phase, and decision phase. We need to know what the company's goals are. Would they need like new inquiries, direct sales? Would they like to go to new markets? Would they need to do some branding, or they need some new subscribers, whatever it is? It all starts from the business goal they have. Once they have the business goals, we try to see what we can propose from different sales point of views.

For example, if they want new inquiries or they want to sell new cars, or property, whatever it is, we try to understand what the end clients behind that is and what's the way they are thinking. Probably, at first, they are on awareness phase. They don't know anything about the company, so they need to have some first touch with the company, maybe see their blog posts, maybe see their Facebook page, or whatever it is. They need to understand and they need to realize that this company is on the market. Once they move on in the stage process and in the middle phase like comparison, consideration phase, they kind of know they need their products or services, so they need to have some more information. Would it be to subscribe for some e-book downloads, for download, or some webinar, or some videos. Basically, they want some more information. Maybe they are willing to give their email away for that, and for the company who is promoting, then they have their email, and they're going to use that for the marketing purposes and communication purposes.

At the end of the day, the decision phase. Once we know that the person has gone through those phases, then we are going to show them more direct and more stronger messages between marketing, advertising. For example, would it be Google, or Facebook, or however it would be. Basically, we want to show them something valuable and something that makes them act and ask questions, or inquiries, or whatever the end goal is. Basically, to conclude, we tried to see how the sales funnel fits to their marketing business goals, and put those to work together.

Aderson: Let me ask you a general question here. You mentioned a lot, and that's the focus of your organization. It's Google and Facebook, and you mentioned Instagram as well, which, in a way, Facebook, as well, properties. Which one, in general, between Google and Facebook, are giving the best ROI's in the business at this point? I have my assumptions here, but I would like to hear from you.

Armin: That's a good question. Those two big players, Facebook and Google, are taking, right now, 85% of the online advertising spend growth. Those are the players where the money really goes to. Right now, it's like 75%, maybe, is going for Google on the online advertising money, and 25% is going to Facebook. When I look at our clients and where most of the money is coming from, and where they are spending money, I would say it's, right now, kind of the same. The 75% goes to Google and the 25% goes to Facebook but yeah, it's changing. The money is going more and more to Facebook, and Facebook is growing faster, so this is definitely the trend we are seeing here.

Again, depending about the business goals, if the goals is to get more inquiries and sales, and if you can absorb it, let's say, people in the bottom funnel where they're in the decision phase with a very good startup, the long-tail keyword search campaigns in Google, definitely this would be a very good ROI. But, if you will need to do some more like branding, and marketing, and awareness, and be there, and show like we need some videos, banners, then Facebook probably might be the better place in this case.

It's usually the mix and finding the right balance between those big players and dig deeper inside those players. Maybe it's like YouTube, or Gmail, or Instagram, which are under those big players. Basically, it's putting together the marketing and media plan and trying to find out what's the right balance to start from. But, this doesn't say that where we start from is the right place.

At the end of the day, marketing and media is all about testing. It's like we are also always testing what's working, and what's not, and this is my first recommendations for every marketing person out there. It's just whatever you are doing, whatever you are marketing, or selling, or buying ads, always test at least two versions of ads, two versions of text, or the ad copies, whatever it is, run at the same time, then the results come from there. Otherwise, you are playing roulette and you don't know if you're getting the red or black in the roulette, or you just don't know what the result would be. You might be lucky the first time, but not in the long run.

Aderson: You are talking about split test, isn't it?

Armin: Yeah, correct.

Aderson: You do a lot of split testing?

Armin: Correct. Split test, I can start with two versions, but it can grow into hundreds of different versions at the same time. It can go much more complex, but to start to just have two Facebook banners run at the same time and you will see the results and the difference might be very different even if you don't think so.

Aderson: As we know, Google's AdWords and Google's Ad Platform is there in the market for longer than Facebook's. I guess that, over time, Google's platform, to get results, it has been getting more and more expensive over time. I have this feeling, and I don't have too much experience with Google. I do a lot of Facebook, but not too much with Google. I have this feeling that it's too expensive to compete there on Google AdWords, and I guess that you need to have a lot of expertise, like an agency of yours to be able to crack that platform. My question to you is, cost-wise, is it correct to assume that Facebook is much -- I know that they have different goals and different objectives, but cost-wise, Facebook is still much more affordable than Google's platform in general?

Armin: Definitely. When the time goes on, it's very logical that more competition in Google, it increases the prices and it's very hard to get good results, and it's kind of the same what's happening right now in Facebook. Some advertisers already are saying that Facebook ads are more expensive than they used to be, and it's like two times harder to get the results that they used to have. It's definitely happening right now.

It is, as you said, again, makes it very important to understand what are you doing and how are you doing, and kind of the first recommendation besides the AB testing, split testing is before you start to do anything online, you should have right metrics and right trackings installed. Basically, with Facebook Pixel, should definitely be there installed correctly that you can say which ad really end up in the brochures, or inquiries, or whatever it will be and how much this will work for you, and same goes with the AdWords and the other possible tools. You need to track, you need to understand, but I would say that most advertisers don't do that and it's so insane, still, that they are not doing this, but it all starts from there.

Once you have the tracking setup, the next question usually companies ask is, "What's my marketing budget? What's my media budget?" This is something that I say that you don't have to have any marketing budget or do not have any media budget. But, what you should have is you should understand what the client lifetime value is and what's cost for acquisition, cost for action, what you really can pay to get one new lead or one new client.

If you know the lifetime value, lifetime revenue, lifetime profits, you can say how much from the lifetime profit, "I'm ready to invest to get a new client," and that's the kind of game-changing plan that you can see that you can maybe pay much more than you thought you are ready to pay, but it means that the process that you have in business are working good and you really know once you get the lead in, you know what are you going to do with the leads and how you will proceed with the clients again.

Aderson: Let's talk a little bit now about the clients. You said that you really need to know what's the lifetime value of a client. My question to you is what is a client profile that is not a good fit for paid media? When you see this type of client, you say, "You know what? This will not work out because of X, Y and Z." Do you have a client profile that you know that doesn't work as well?

Armin: Yeah, most of the time, you can use paid media for your business purposes, end goals, but not always. What I usually say is when you don't have the business processes ready in-house for yourself, for your company, then it doesn't matter how good marketing you are doing, or how good advertising you are doing, at the end of the day, you are losing. If you can't deliver, if you don't have processes behind that, all your product or service is not competitive in the market. It kind of doesn't matter what marketing we are doing or which channels we are using, anyways, we are losing. I look at the business side, I look at how good are they today and what are their future plans and are they ready to grow, are they ready to expand their business into new markets or new places. This is one thing.

Another thing is it might be, in some cases, that the product company is selling are maybe too cheap for the online marketing. If they are selling like very cheap products and in very low volumes, it might be that there's no point and there's no way when we take into consideration the average cost per click, average conversion rate, and then we calculate the price or cost per action. If the product is very cheap, a few euros, dollars, whatever, it might not work in this case. Basically, the business processes and the product itself can't be very cheap.

Aderson: Have you walked away from a client that was in that kind of scenario that said, "Hey, you know what? You guys are not ready for this yet because of X, Y, and Z"? Have you walked away?

Armin: Yeah, we have, and more. Like, in more similar cases, like just recently, just a few days ago, we had like a new inquiry, and they were really selling very small products with a very small price, and we just told them, "Hey, this is quite a good thing. We understand what you're looking for, but probably we can't help you, and probably the results won’t be as you assumed they will be." In this case, what we can do is we can show them places they can learn by themselves or use some resources. In these cases, those cases, probably they could be successful when they are doing this by themselves.

They learn a bit, they test a bit, and they run the campaigns by themselves, and then the cost for the campaigns are definitely lowered, they're owning their time there, and the marketing budget, and then they might be successful there. We try to give them some resources. They can learn it all. Maybe even try different ways for promotion. Would it be search engine optimization, even social media marketing, something different?

Aderson: Let's look from the perspective of a potential client that is looking for, in the agency, to help them with paid media, and I may have not ever done paid media before, and all of a sudden, I see myself having to evaluate, having to assess whether or not your company or somebody else's company will be the ones that I'll be working with to get paid media provided to my business. My question to you is, going beyond and above your own company, what do you recommend for a client that has never done paid media? How should they approach a paid media organization or agency like yours? How do they evaluate whether or not someone is a good fit to work with them or not? How do you help them to evaluate?

Armin: At first, probably the company is asking if paid media is something I should do or how to achieve my business goals. This is probably the first thing they will ask. If they feel that the question is most probably yes, even if they don't know anything about paid media or they haven't tried it before, if they kind of at least feel that this might be something or they see that the media and advertising money is going online and offline media is going down. If they understand this and, yeah, companies, even older companies nowadays start to understand that this shift is really happening right now.

Once they turn into agencies, I think the first thing they need to really try to figure out through this media agency, advertising agency, understand. Once you understand their business, because in my case, what I'm seeing, when somebody turns to me and tries to offer me something, sell me something without asking me any questions about my company, about what I'm doing, my business goals, my personal goals, then probably the solution that they are proposing is kind of some packed solution which probably doesn't fit me. They need to understand if the company, the agency really cares about them and really tries to understand what they are all about. This is, I think, the first thing.

On this advertising, Google Ads Company, Facebook Ads Company, there are a lot of companies like this, a lot of local companies in different countries all around the world, and once that's figured out, then the second thing is, I think, it would be very important to understand if the ad agency understands marketing in general. Because, paid media is one part of advertising. It's not all advertising. You can't do all advertising with paid media. You should do some other activities as well: inbound marketing, social media marketing, SEO, other stuff. If they understand all other marketing aspect as well and understand how to integrate those two things, how to use paid media to increase your email subscriber list, for example, that is one step to get new clients, then it would work. I would suggest to that, then it definitely gives you a partner who is thinking with you not only when you ask them to think something.

Aderson: Perfect. I'm just going to recap the two points First point is about make sure that the company that you are approaching will ask about your company, they want to know about your business because the they will be able to recommend something proper to your situation. It's not just about them selling to you, but about them getting to know you. The second point --

Armin: Yeah, the second thing is does the ad agency really understand marketing as a general not only paid media?

Aderson: Yes. The second point is about the agency going beyond and above just paid media. They need to have more of a holistic understanding of the different aspects of options out there, like content marketing, social media, and all the different aspects so they can, again, recommend the best approach to your case. Very good two points, Armin. I really appreciate that.

Armin, my next point here is about learning and lessons, and I think that one of the ways that we learn as business people, as business owners, as professionals is via mistakes, via problems that we come across, we face, we solve them, we get over with on that problem, and we have some lessons learned from that. The segment I would like to talk about, what I call horror stories. A horror story is just a storytelling segment that you look back on your experience, in your case, with paid media working with clients, and you may have come across many problematic situations. It might be a tough client to deal with, it might be a situation that maybe ROI was not that great, and you had to explain. But, in that sense, do you recall and are you able to share a horror story with the audience and the lessons that you have learned from that horror story?

Armin: Yeah, maybe a general answer first. I think that you have a good cooperation with the agency and the client, the cooperation is like 50% results and 50% communication. It's very true. If those two things are not covered, then the cooperation will unfold. If you are very good in communication and you can't deliver results, very soon, the client understands that it doesn't work out. In other cases, if you are very good in results but you are not good in communication, the cooperation doesn't work either. This is in many cases when we have a new project managers and they're all starting with our processes and everything, we have to add some cases that we are delivering good results, but the client doesn't understand that, or the communication is not very good in terms of the results, and we are losing the client, and we are losing the cooperation because the clients just don't understand or see the results, or what really has happened that the expectations might have not been set before the start. What are the expectations?

In one case, I remember I had a client who was fully expecting like four or five times better results that we even could deliver them in our best scenarios we thought we can deliver them. But, they are in the sales process. Somehow, there's a misunderstanding game and it was very hard to continue with the cooperation. Expectations, maybe, is the keyword here, and once the expectation has been set and everybody knows when to expect which kind of results or progress, then it would work.

Aderson: I would assume that that was the lesson learned from that situation.

Armin: Yeah, that definitely is. It's like we tried to communicate more, and before that, set the level, set the criteria. If you can see that the expectation is totally different, then we can say that we can't deliver this kind of results. We are rather pessimistic before we start and very optimistic like, "Oh yeah, we can do that. Let's see." But, if you see that we probably will not do that or not achieve the results the client wants to have, we will tell them at the beginning and it helps everybody to save their time and money.

Aderson: Armin, let me ask you, not that we want to create competition for yourself, but let's say that I want to start a media agency and I want to focus on paid media, what advice would you give me if I wanted to go, more or less, the same route maybe to serve my local clients here? What kind of advice would you give for someone wanting to start a paid media service to provide outsourcing overseas to clients? What would you say? What would you recommend? What guidance would you give?

Armin: Definitely. I think the first thing is you have to be an ongoing learner, so you have to love learning, and you have to love trying new things, and everything related. What I ask my employees when we have newcomers, I ask them to do Facebook Advertising Certification, the first thing to do. This is kind of fundamental thing to understand how the paid media is working and what's important and what's not. We are like doing different certificates in Facebook as well. The knowledge and the learning is, first, very important. We have to understand the basics and there's a lot of information online, and if we are interested enough, we can find information about learning about Google AdWords, learning Facebook Ads, and once the fundamentals has been studied, the second recommendation will be to start with the first project.

If you don't have any clients, just pick your friend or a friend of a friend and tell them you can do this for free, or just for the media money. Just try for your own website, and once you try different things, then from the process and from the projects you start to learn, you will see what are you missing, what are you doing wrong -- maybe you're not getting results then you are. This is the process, and this is where you really learned and where you really see the new opportunities. While doing projects and campaigns, me and our account managers learn every day because processes are changing, the platforms are changing, the opportunity, solutions, the features are always upgrading, and there are new things. They are always testing new things, and if you don't have client for that, test on yourself. If you would like to promote your business do Facebook ads, Google ads for your business first.

Aderson: You mentioned there being able to continuously learn, and I'm assuming that applies to yourself as well. You're always on the lookout for the next thing, for the next strategy, for the next approach, and my question here is what is hot right now on the paid media? For instance, videos on Facebook ads, is that a new tool? Is that Instagram? Is that Snapchat? What is hot right now that you say, "Man, we have to get into that and we have to learn more about that"? What is hot now?

Armin: I guess there are too many things and keywords what has been probably said in the marketing world right now. It's like the video and the mobile, and this is really happening, and 90% from the Facebook traffic usually comes from the mobile devices, and if you don't have your campaigns optimized for that, then it's not working. Still, right now, companies think that mobile advertising is something that you would check, and this goes for the mobile. But, you probably should have a different strategy, different messages for the mobile version. What we do a lot right now is definitely the video marketing. We use it for the YouTube videos, Facebook videos. The video ads right now are cheap. It's like a few cents for the video view. It's kind of nothing. For 100 euros, you would get like 10,000 views. It's that cheap right now, and for the awareness and consideration phase, I think that this is working very, very good.

For Instagram, it's increasing, and inside Facebook, the one thing is maybe not used that much right now is Facebook Canvas. It's like the landing page inside Facebook. This is not used for the brands currently, but I assume and I think that it will get more and more use. So, to use a small landing page inside Facebook after clicking your ad before your landing page so it can give you some extra information like pictures or videos. They have Instagram for the younger generation up to point five. It's definitely they are right now and we are trying to find a way to use the Facebook ads better, how to use those ads, how to create Instagram and Facebook stories in terms of advertising purposes. This is something we are, right now, doing and testing different ways to leverage that.

Aderson: I'm just going to mention maybe you have seen or heard about this coming up as well, but I see more and more things coming up around chat. It might be chat bots. It might be because now there's an option on Facebook to link back to the messaging app. I see a lot of buzz on that space as well. Have you seen anything or heard anything about chat bots and messaging?

Armin: Yeah, it's something that's really, right now, coming, and to be honest, right now, we don't have very good success stories over things happening there right now, but I truly believe that this is going to be there, just like the Messenger as an app of Facebook is like the separate program, and they have so many, many users there. It would be very soon that we will see something happening there would make sense and, really, some kind of good tool for the marketers.

Aderson: Armin, we are coming towards the end here. I would like to ask you what is one thing that you'd like people who watch this conversation to leave knowing about? What is one thing? Pick one thing. We have discussed a lot of different things, but pick one thing that you like to have that stick in people's brains.

Armin: I would say it's split test and A/B testing about marketing results. It can matter not only 5, 10 percent, it can be two times or three times difference, basically meaning if you are doing something and earning profit or not. So, if you're not A/B testing whatever you are doing, you're probably losing money.

Aderson: That's a great point. A/B test goes beyond just paid media. It goes to landing pages, it goes to product pages. It's so important and I need to use that more and more. Armin, I really want to thank you very much for being here. Before I let you go, I would like you to talk a little bit more about your business, plug your services, plug how people can reach out to you in case they have more questions or in case they may want to engage on your professional services.

Armin: Yeah, thanks for the opportunity. As I said, as AlterMedia, as a media agency, we are kind of focusing on two main platforms, as I said, Facebook and Google, because they are bringing results, and we are seeing results there, and we are always using different strategies to really leverage those platforms and find the good fit for the companies. All people can search us. They can find us online, or Google me, or find me on LinkedIn. I will be there, and I will be more than ready to help or give some comments or some consultation, or just answer some questions anybody might have. We have been doing this for many, many years, and my experience in the field for 10 years, so I kind of have knowledge and background. So, if anybody needs any help, I would be more than happy to help.

Aderson: Perfect. Before I let you go, I just want to quickly mention that myself and Armin, we go way back before we started talking today. Armin just reminded me that we have done a project together. My company, as an outsourcing provider, to his business back in 2008, 2007, so again, we go way, way back. Armin, again, it's great to be able to reconnect with you, to have this conversation with you. I really thank you for your time, for your availability, for your knowledge, and sharing that all with us today. Thank you very much and talk to you soon. Bye.

Armin: Thank you. Bye.

I'm an Outsourcerer. I'm a DNN Geek. I help people with their sites @ DeskPal. I'm a #Pomodoro practitioner. I'm a husband and a father of 2 beautiful girls.

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Aderson Oliveira
Aderson Oliveira