Matt Widdoes 

Welcome to Growth at Scale. I’m your host, Matt Widdoes. This is a podcast for leaders who want to bring sustainable, predictable, scalable growth to their businesses. Every episode I sit down with world -class growth experts across product, marketing, finance, operations, you name it. The hope is that these conversations will give you real, actionable advice for building and sustaining company growth. Welcome to this week’s episode of Growth at Scale. I’m your host, Matt Widows, CEO of Maven. Today, our guest is Adam Lovallo, VP at BMG360 and founder of MAU. Welcome, Adam. 

Adam Lovallo 

Thank you. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah, I’m excited to chat today. There’s a bunch to uncover for our listeners who don’t know you. Tell us, who are you? Where have you been? What do you do? 

Adam Lovallo 

Okay, so long story short, I’ve always worked in what we used to call customer acquisition, which we now call growth because it sounds cooler, for my whole career. I started, kind of interesting first job, but basically as an intern at a daily deals company, it’s called Living Socials, competitor to Groupon. Then since that experience, I’ve started a number of companies, but three of which have been at least marginally successful, two of which I’ve sold and I’m working on selling the third. One was a paid, basically a paid marketing agency. One was the conference, which I’m sure I’ll talk about. Then the third one is like an SEO ratings review, sort of lead gen business. All of these things pretty small, so none of them at scale, unfortunately, but modest size and all very much customer acquisition focused. 

Matt Widdoes 

Okay, great. Let’s talk about that. You’ve been a founder multiple times and I’m sure with anything it gets easier or faster, the more you do it because you have some learnings and things you would or wouldn’t do again, but would love to hear any elements of those founding stories that you think would be relevant to our listeners who are largely C -level at know, very fast growing companies or are thinking of founding something themselves with, you know, deep experience in other areas of growth. Any, any stories you’d share or, you know, lessons learned from founding multiple companies? 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, I mean, I’ve also failed a number of times, so there’s plenty of lessons there. But for the ones that have been successful, a couple of anecdotes. With the agency, I literally built the business from moment zero with the expectation or goal that I would sell it to a private equity backed agency roll up, which is a very specific outcome and a very specific kind of path. And so with the benefit of hindsight, I kind of wish that I had this like start of the business because I wanted it to be really great. And I knew that if I made it really great, it would be really valuable. That was not what I did. What I did was I said, all right, I know that if I could build this agency, position in this certain way and get it to this certain size and whatever, you know, fast amount of time, I probably could find a buyer for it. Fortunately, I actually did all of those things, which is miraculous in hindsight, I think about it, I was like so lucky, and that is exactly what happened. So from day zero to basically year four, you know, we sold this for $20 million. So like, I did that very deliberately, but it had a lot of like negative externalities, because obviously, if you build a thing with the intention of selling it, maybe you cut some corners that you wouldn’t otherwise cut. On the other hand, that’s kind of a glass half empty perspective on glass half full, you know, businesses exist to generate profit. So people want to buy things that generate profit. So if you create a thing that generates profit, you kind of have done the thing like you did the business. So I think it can be double edged. You know, you talk to people who like start companies, you’re like, why they have some mission driven bullshit. And then a decade later, it’s nothing, you know, it has no value. It’s like, yeah, well, what are we doing here? Like this was it wasn’t enough for profit, like we’re not playing at being a startup that doesn’t have the word doesn’t have any meaning made up. Like we’re creating a business period. So yeah, that was definitely my experience of the agency, very fortunate that it worked out. But but I think that’s somewhat unique, because that’s not, you don’t usually, you know, usually have some mission driven way of stumbling it. No, I knew I was like, I knew there was private equity money in the space. I knew that conversion rate optimization was a gap. Like very few agencies were good at it. And I knew that if I could be good at that, in addition to some other things, that I would be an attractive add on target. So that was our, you know, founding story was this very like mercenary kind of driven sort of thing. Like I said, 

Matt Widdoes 

What year was that? What year was that for context? 

Adam Lovallo 

That would have been like, it’s like five years ago, rough. Four or five years ago. Yeah, because I was I was I started it as we were in the process of getting ready to sell the conference. So I knew that was kind of winding down. So I was like already in this, you know, inside kind of I kind of got this other thing going. 

Matt Widdoes 

Makes sense. I think a lot of people don’t, you know, I didn’t know about it until, I don’t know, handful. I mean, I knew about it, but I didn’t really think about it until a handful of years ago with a woman named Cody Sanchez who focuses on all of these like buying businesses, flipping them kind of thing. But there’s this whole world like bizbuysell .com or something like that, not a plug, but like where I saw one locally because I kind of cruise that from time to time. I’m just curious what’s out there and finding, you know, there’s like a local here in Menlo Park. There was a, you know, there’s like tank deprivation, float tanks and, you know, infrared sauna and stuff like that. There’s one here and it’s like, okay, they’re doing 500K a year in top line revenue. They’re wanting to sell the business for 450. They have all this equipment that has value and the person who bought it recently like bought it, leveled it up. turned it around and sold it. And there’s this whole, not underbelly is not the right word, but there’s this whole other area where people are treating businesses like houses essentially or like real estate. And it’s really interesting. I think the area you mentioned where you see this opportunity, you’re like, okay, well, I could build that, get it up and get it out. Also, I think the mission driven versus like, I want to build this business. Oftentimes what’s interesting to me is that the kind of stereotypical mission driven business founder who’s maybe limping along 10 years later, is like, if you’re really mission driven, though, I feel like those two things are interconnected because you’re like, if we really want to make an impact, we need to get revenue. And so I think there’s an importance of that. One, you know, two things that come out of that are, you know, the importance of knowing where you want to go. I mean, that’s like so part and parcel to pretty much everything in the world. Is like, if you don’t know which way you’re going, it doesn’t matter which way you go. And knowing like this is that aim because it starts to sharpen your focus on, you know, these various decision points, even if you have a bunch of luck in between, if you weren’t already in your mind that I want to go sell this to a PE rollup and do all these other things, you might make different choices or miss opportunities that would have been obvious to you had you known that that’s what you actually wanted to do. And then the other piece is like, if you really want to make a difference, revenue and profit are great things for that. So it’s like, you can have mission and profit at the same time. You can be a kind of stereotypical greedy capitalist and still deliver against a really philanthropic mission or, you know, any number of other things. So I think sometimes people see those as different sides of the same coin, but in reality, they benefit each other. So and then any other, you know, you mentioned MAU, I think maybe we dive into that. So well, for people who are in user acquisition or growth or whatever we want to call, you know, paid acquisitions, at least specifically, although MAU covers a lot of different topics. MAU – Mobile Apps Unlocked is in Vegas every year, for sure, the largest growth conference of the year. I think the most well liked, the most well attended, the most well set up. I mean, it’s it’s been a great conference for many years. And Adam was the founder of that. built that sold that you was that another one and it’s still running today and it’s always I think at MGM but I think early days maybe it was somewhere else but was that one too where you’re like hey there’s no real good conferences I should create a conference and sell it or was that just more happenstance of like like let’s walk through that that Genesis story. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh yeah no it was very much that so I had a co -founder in that business who had had a prior conference that he started and egg it’s called leads on it also still runs to this day it’s the largest conference for people in the lead 

Matt Widdoes 

Which is a big deal because there are a ton of people in lead that’s like almost like having the biggest affiliate conference.

Adam Lovallo 

Bigger than mobile apps. 

Matt Widdoes 

Oh I would imagine yeah it’s huge. 

Adam Lovallo 

So Leads Con was this big really successful thing he was he was able to sell it and so then he’s he’s had this pattern the second one was our business. and then he’s actually gone on to start a number of other conference businesses that have been unbelievably successful, notably without me. But with MAU, the original hypothesis was, oh, well, growth or growth hacking started to be a job title. People started adopting that as a job title. You know, guys like Andrew Chen and Brian Balfour, others were out there writing about it and sort of popularizing the term. And I was one of the first people in the industry to kind of say, oh yeah, I’m a growth guy. You know, I’m not a customer acquisition guy. I’m not a user acquisition guy. I’m a growth guy. Put it on my LinkedIn. And Jay, my then co -founder’s observation was a very astute one. And he said, well, when you start seeing a new job title getting adopted, it usually means that there’s some sort of new ecosystem that’s developing. And usually when there’s some new ecosystem in any field, there’s a conference or trade show business that makes sense for that new ecosystem. You could have said the saying of, you know, blockchain, whatever, two years ago, or maybe five years ago, right? It’s a similar kind of dynamic. So we said, all right, well, there’s gotta be a conference business here. We just gotta go find it. It took us a couple of years actually before we said we’re gonna focus on mobile apps. We had some e -com stuff. We had some sort of generalist growth stuff, but they did okay. But I don’t think they were as, it wasn’t as big of a hole as mobile apps were. Because mobile apps was this brand new ecosystem, you know, 10 years ago, or now 11 or two. So he knew what the multiples were in the conference ecosystem. He knew what size we probably needed to get in order to sell it. He knew that from prior experience, but we didn’t know that we would end up focusing on mobile apps. We didn’t realize that it would be mostly a sponsorship driven business, as opposed to ticket sale driven business. Those are kind 

Matt Widdoes 

Oh interesting. I thought all events were basically sponsorship driven. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh, no, no, no, no, there are huge, even like B2B trade shows that are mostly ticket sales. So that, you know, they’re not usually exclusive, but usually you do end up kind of going down one or the other. 

Matt Widdoes 

I guess that makes sense because some are like really heavy on vendors and some are like, hey, we don’t have vendors. This is like, 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, or it’s a, you know, function of the ecosystem. If it’s a hundred thousand dentists, yeah, well, there’s some sponsors, Colgate or whatever that want to talk to dentists, but surely mostly the dentists are the ones paying. Whereas the mobile app ecosystem, one game developer, you know, could be a $5 million target prospect to one sponsor. So surely that’s 50 K. So anyway, we grew the business. The first event was, you know, 400 people the next year, 700 and blah, blah, blah. I think in our peak before COVID, we were in the, I don’t know, maybe 2 ,500 to 3 ,000 attendee range, which is roughly where the event was this calendar year, 2023. Yeah, really interesting experience. Took a while. Like we didn’t, you know, we didn’t, we sold it in a year or seven or something. Like it wasn’t like an overnight success. And it’s also the sort of thing that by definition kind of grows slowly because it’s once a year. So, you know, you only get. one bite at the apple once a year to try to, you know, get bigger than the year prior. But a really cool experience and it was a great way for me to meet a lot of people and also kind of get like, almost like a bird’s eye view of the industry. Prior to that, I was just a guy, you know, I was ahead of growth at a company. Once I was on the conference side, I was like, oh, well, these are the vendors. These are the different advertisers. This is what these guys are interested in. This is how these guys sell and how people, you know, different companies do it differently and whatever. And I use that experience to start the agency, you know, 100% based on what I observe, you know, kind of my customers were the sponsors and my target were the advertisers. So for my agency, I was the sponsor and my target, we’re still the customers, you know, still trying to talk to the same people. But yeah, we were very lucky. Well, a lot of things, but we were especially lucky. We closed on the sale months before COVID, which of course shut down the event for… 

Matt Widdoes 

I didn’t realize it was sold that close to COVID. 

Adam Lovallo 

Purely by chance, obviously. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah, yeah, of course. You had nothing to do with this at the beginning of COVID, right? 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, no, we didn’t. That was really fortunate. The business is so good and the event is good and it’s growing and, you know, whatever, but like it would have been hard for us as a four -man operation, whether, you know, not doing anything for two years. But we were really lucky timing -wise. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah. And then, you know, when thinking through that specific, you know, for people who start events or maybe not even in MAU as an example, but, you know, anything that you might do differently, you know, from scratch, either for that specifically in the event space or just generally, you know, any early stage like, hey, good example for me is, you know, get a bookkeeper early, like really early. Like just make your life really simple. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, that’s actually not a bad one. I always tell people like, you should have clean, accrual accounting of all expenses, like expenses tied to months, basically, from day zero because it will make your life infinitely easier down the line. If anybody ever wants to look at your financials because cash accounting, you know, based on when money is received can get pretty messy and weird and it’s hard to sort of understand what’s going on, particularly trends over time. So I agree with that. I mean, accruall accounting in days of day one, that’s worth doing. It takes like an extra $100 a month or something. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah, it’s just a choice. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, you just have to do it. But I think the biggest thing with the event is events are one of those things that kind of build momentum. So some number of people show up, year one, they think it’s really great. There’s like a viral factor to it. They tell their friends and then year two, it grows and grows and grows. So if you could have made year one or year two significantly larger, probably the year over year growth trajectory is the same. 

Matt Widdoes 

Right. It’s just the gross is different. 

Adam Lovallo 

But it’s the basis is bigger or small. Yeah. And so I wish that we had been way more aggressive in year zero, year two, trying to build the audience. I genuinely believe that had we done that, if the first year event had been 800 people, I think this would be a 5 ,000 person event as opposed to a 2 ,500 person event because the first year was 400. I really, really, really do believe that. And by the way, I think in a couple years it will be a 5 ,000 person event because the industry is growing and the event is good. And so the growth rate should more or less continue with a little COVID interruption obviously. But yeah, that is my biggest regret for that business specifically. But I think that applies to a lot of things. And the very specific math is, well, it cost me an event organizer $100 a night to put up somebody at the casino to pay for their hotel rooms. It cost me $250 or $500 to buy a round trip ticket from New York or San Francisco to Las Vegas where most of the advertisers were coming from. So for let’s say on average $500 ahead, I could pay for somebody’s hotel in flight and get them there. Well, that company was worth a ton to our sponsors. So in hindsight, I should have spent $100 ,000, subsidized 500 people to come. It would have been a 900 person event. Maybe I would have lost 100 grand in that first year, but it would have started that ball rolling a lot faster. And there have actually been people in the event space specifically, the largest e -com event is called Shop Talk in Las Vegas. I’m oversimplifying the guy’s strategy, but that was a part of it, highly aggressive year one, high level of subsidy, crush at year one, and then year two was 5,000 people. 

Matt Widdoes 

That’s highly anticipated. Yeah, because you have that buzz and you can leverage that with the sponsors. Just, hey, look, last year was a huge hit. We’re expecting way more. We already have. Here’s our year over year pre -signups. By this point, we’re tracking towards the next one. 

Adam Lovallo 

And Shop Talk has done that. That guy is like a legend in the event ecosystem. He had a big event before that. So he’s done it many times over, but at much greater scale than we did at MAU. So yeah, with a benefit of hindsight, that’s certainly what I’m talking about. 

Matt Widdoes 

I’d imagine though, starting that, it’s hard to go big on your first event, unless you’ve done an event like that, with a new thing. So because you’re like, Oh, what do I have to do? Oh, I didn’t realize the insurance needs and, you know, all of the, if there’s going to be. 

Adam Lovallo 

Well, yeah, I mean, I just said $100 ,000. I said, like, it’s nothing. Yeah, it wasn’t nothing, you know, it wasn’t nothing to me. I was 24 or whatever. I didn’t have that to be fair. Jay, my partner, he did it. But still, he was being smart about starting a new business. You know, that would be have been a very bold move. But I think in businesses where, where you have that, like, there’s by that, there’s going to be a huge time lag. If you could just get it going faster, it saves like a time of time versus my lead gen business. So this CourseReport.com SEO site, SEO, you know, kind of says they take a long time. Like, I don’t think no matter what you do, and it’s like, wow, the build authority, build link, build kind of like, so you could have done it faster. Sure. But it took us 10 years to get to the point where we do $2 million in annual profit. But like, it’s an amazing business 10 years later. And I think we could have spent millions of dollars in the first couple of years and maybe we would now be doing like 2 .5 million dollars in profits. But I actually am not totally convinced that incremental investment would have paid off. The biggest variable in that case was time. You know, we just having time to build it. So it totally depends. 

Matt Widdoes 

Well, I think there’s some parallels there with we knew a guy who had some like a pomegranate orchard. And I guess pomegranate trees don’t produce viable fruit for like five years. Oh, for like the first five years. Like literally, it’s nothing comes off of it. So you’re just sitting there waiting for these things to go. I think there’s parallels with that with, you know, any SEO play because it takes time. And so it’s like to that point, it’s not that we could go any faster or stronger and really make meaningful impact on the year seven, year eight revenue. But the move is to do seven of those, 10 of those at once all in year one. So that as those years go by, you have seven trees instead of one tree. But they’re, but the same parallel exists in paid acquisition. We were talking about this just the other day is that I’ve always looked back almost universally true and said, like knowing what I know today, I wish we had bought more last year because the cost is always going up. The efficiencies and like where we’re like, oh man, we’d never pay more than seven dollars for that. And you fast forward three years and we’re like, can you get, can you get it for a sub 20? Right. And it’s like, we had all the money. And so it’s a balance of because you can’t see the future. You don’t always have complete information. There’s always hope that, you know, some new efficiency or waiting on some new product feature or waiting on some new other thing. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah. General rule of pay customer acquisition, the cap will increase over time period. Yep. And you could find any public companies, S one and look at their marketing slides and it will say that yeah, over time, we’re going to get more. Our pay spend is going to get more efficient every single one. Because we’re going to decrease the percentage of revenue and marketing whatever and like zero time that almost never happened. Like it’s just not how it works. 

Matt Widdoes 

Well, and yes, if the market stayed the same and there wasn’t stuff changing outside of their control, maybe that could be true. But yeah, it’s a huge piece. And yeah, you double -edged sort of that though, is that there’s people who are like, well, when we have this feature, we’ll be ready. Or when we have this, the other thing, as you mentioned, had you gone bigger year one, that would have likely had broader implications because you have kind of this exponential piece on top of it. And it’s not just straight linear. But in a world where year one is awful and you go really big, you actually have the inverse problem where you’re like, okay, we just destroyed the whole thing. So it still has to be good. Because I’ve been personally, even in the last, say last year, went to an event where nothing was organized, didn’t have a hotel room, wasn’t on the list. Sponsors were like, where are we supposed to be? No signage, start time. 

Adam Lovallo 

It’s very easy to have a shitty 300 person local conference in New York City. It’s just 

Matt Widdoes 

None of the agenda was worked out. Yeah. And all the sponsors are like, we will never sponsor this again 

Adam Lovallo 

It’s common. It’s common in the mobile app space, but in all industries, it’s just like, cause technically speaking, one guy with like a helper can do whatever, you know, put down any event, but it might be a total disaster. So from day one, this is a credit to my partner, Jay. We wanted it to feel like a 5 ,000 person event in terms of signage and the level of organization and the room and like even how the stage looked and stuff like that. It’s like, I don’t actually care at all about aesthetics, but like, I think it mattered to say like, this is a serious thing. So yeah, but I also feel for the guys who have the sort of shoddier execution. Cause if I was doing it myself, it’s exactly what I would have done you know, like, I don’t know. So it’s totally understandable cause it’s hard. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah. Help yourself to some burnt coffee in the back. It’s like, yep, that’s the standard. And the Econolodge on some random spot. So, okay, so let’s, let’s change gears. So coming off of the event space, you know, you’ve got a lot of experience in media buying generally, but more recently on audio and connected TV, particularly in audio, let’s throw CTV in with that. You know, can you walk our listeners through kind of the differences you see and the similarities you see through more traditional channels like paid search, paid social, et cetera. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah. So BMG 360, the core company, all the agencies were acquired into or the platform company was called Barrington Media Group. And they’ve been doing audio for literally 20 years, performance audio. That’s a long time. Very long time. And we believe, we Barrington now, BMG 360 believe that we are one of, if not the largest performance audio advertising agencies in the country based on spend, you know, client spend. So they’ve been doing it for a really long time. And there’s a couple of points about audio that I think are important. We talk about audio as terrestrial radio. So that’s AM FM on your, you know, usually your car, streaming audio. So that’s like Sirius XM streaming, Pandora streaming, Spotify, et cetera. iHeart, there’s a big one. Satellite Radio, which is Sirius XM, basically exclusively US, and Podcasts, last. So those are kind of the four buckets. For all of those channels, you really ideally wanna have a closed feedback loop so that you understand I did something and then these conversions resulted, but that’s obviously tricky in audio because there’s nothing to click. So what we have done a good job of as an agency is getting as much of that feedback loop closed as possible. So the way everybody did it historically was with toll -free phone numbers, right? Call, whatever, whatever. And you still hear that. You go turn on the radio. You will hear call as the call to action, for phone calls. But what we do in most cases for audio and even linear TV and CTV, is text message as the call to action. And this is not totally unique to our agency, though there’s not many of us in the country that do this, where it’s a short code, so like 32 -3 -2 -3 -2. So you text a keyword like text savings or deal or something, to 32 -3 -2 -3 -2, and then you get a text response from a bot, and in that response, it’s got a link and it takes you to whatever app store, page, or landing page, or whatever. That is really powerful, because people actually respond to that, usually at a significantly higher rate than a promo code, which is probably the most common form of direct response tracking and audio, and they respond to it a hell of a lot more than a vanity word.  Like, you know, like, you know, maybe just put a dot com slash deals. Nobody types that. I mean, no human being in the world would remember that. It’s just so weird. Promo code, well, maybe, you know, but it’s easy to forget. It’s, you know, it’s, you know, write it down. You’re driving usually. 

Matt Widdoes 

I was gonna say, typically, when you’re listening to audio, you’re doing, you’re not just sitting there in like a chair doing nothing else. 

Adam Lovallo 

Almost always, you’re walking, mostly driving, but now these days, walking or exercising. 

Matt Widdoes 

And call now, like, I know now I’m gonna end up in a conversation. I’m gonna have to deal with a salesperson. I can type out the full URL and forward slash this, like that’s a huge pain. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh, it’s a huge task. 

Matt Widdoes 

I wanna send a quick text to 32 -3 -2 -3 -2, text deal to that. And I know, you know, if I’m like, if I’ve ever done that before, I understand I’m gonna now get texts from these people, but I want that. I want the reminder that says, hey, you were gonna buy this thing. And I can just deal with that later. Yeah. 

Adam Lovallo 

Exactly. And the beauty of it is you can get as granular as you want. You could create hundreds of those keywords, so hundreds of unique ads, and then you could see what markets and what parts and what content types are working. So it’s really powerful. And then the last piece is, for the more modern like streaming, like certainly, connected TV, but also streaming audio, you have what are essentially JavaScript pixels, just like any pixel from Facebook or Google, and they measure a listen through a window. They think that this device heard the ad and then they see a conversion within some period of time thereafter, usually seven days or 30 days or whatever. And that’s cool because that’s some form of attribution. But obviously, it can also significantly overestimate because a lot of people that listen, maybe we’re going to purchase anyway, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those sales resulted from the campaign. So that’s where stuff like incrementality testing starts to play a role. But we really like the true direct response, maybe some form of this like JavaScript pixel based tracking like all other digital channels. And then if you really want to be thorough, some sort of geographic test where you have some markets exposed and some markets that are not exposed and you compare performance between two, but you can make you can make some of these channels work and start-upy people like most of your audience, I’m sure, are like really into podcasts, which is cool. Podcasts are great, but podcast rates, like advertising rates without exaggeration or like 10 times that of some of these alternatives that I’m discussing. So they can work and they totally do work for some things, including some of our clients, but they’re crazy expensive. 

Matt Widdoes 

So are their test volumes lower or no? 

Adam Lovallo 

No, they’re usually higher. Most podcast advertising are like live reads, right? Where the host reads the thing. Well, there’s only so many podcasts in the country that actually have an audience that’s big enough that’s even worth testing against. And you’ve got to pick one, two, three, four, five, 10, however many podcasts and say, that’s my test, right? And you got to really like, I hope you picked them list, right? And a lot of them are kind of big because that’s how big the audience is. It’s not like you can test to a quarter of the audience on the other hand. I could run a $2 ,500 radio test in Cincinnati or whatever, tomorrow. 

Matt Widdoes 

Our country station. 

Adam Lovallo 

Whatever for like a $2, $2 CPM and it’s trivial. I send one email, one phone call and I can run that test. So it’s actually way easier to test outside of podcasts, way less of a kind of commitment. Although most audio advertising through streaming and podcasting are like normal ad reads, you know, like there’s an ad break in the programming and then the ad run. Yes, there is the equivalent of like a host read like that. Those do happen. Like if you’ve ever listened to a sports radio show or something, you know, they’ll spend a minute talking about Fandal or whatever. Like that’s that’s the equivalent of a podcast ad. But most of the advertising is like kind of more normal ad break stuff. So there’s a trade off there in terms of response. It’s actually less responsive than say a host of a podcast like this one talking for two minutes about something. But yeah, but yeah, audio can be a really great channel. You know, it doesn’t work for everything, but it’s in my opinion, significantly undervalued especially relative to TV and connected TV as a channel to drive direct response Because I think it’s kind of like considered old like weird and old old school or whatever 

Matt Widdoes 

Well and the market I would imagine skews a little bit older

Adam Lovallo 

The main demographic is like 30s 40s 50s people that commute to and from work So it’s not as old as you might at least I kind of Yeah, yeah, it’s not like 60s Like you know linear linear that skews old like that’s like my grandpa are Whatever grandparents of the world watching So that skews old but yeah audio as a younger exposure Then I kind of initially assume and then podcast on average eat even younger 

Matt Widdoes 

It’s so funny traveling with our kids and we end up somewhere where there’s only linear TV. It’s so confusing. Oh, yeah. Like what? Like I want to watch this specific show right now and we’re like, you can’t. You have like these four choices and you have to click between them and they’re like, there’s four choices. 

Adam Lovallo 

On the other hand, they don’t see the same connected TV ad like 40 times while they’re watching one program. 

Matt Widdoes 

The worst. 

Adam Lovallo 

So like as great as all this fancy stuff is like to be fair, linear TV advertising, I would argue is better than the connected TV ad experience. 

Matt Widdoes 

Well, we, I think, I guess we’ve upgraded for the no ads, but that’s the other thing that drives me nuts is all the ads. I mean, they’re actually confused by like, what is going on? Now it’s paused and now I have to end this like, and what’s especially apparent is particularly in children’s programming, the ads that are aired there, you know, it’s not like AARP or whatever the stuff. It’s like, and it’s just like this new backpack that does awesome stuff. And then my daughter’s like, I want that backpack. I’m like, stop it. 

Adam Lovallo 

It’s a great, the oldest people in our population and the youngest people are in our population are the best for direct marketing for sure. That’s definitely true. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah. Okay. Great. That’s super helpful. Cause I think I agree with you for sure that these, you know, audio in particular is under leverage. I think more and more people are waking up to connected TV and yeah. And the changes that have made that easier, but I’m curious, you know, any success stories for somebody who maybe has been thinking about that, you know, any, any success stories you have around leveraging audio or, or, or,

Adam Lovallo 

 I mean, we have a mobile app client that literally is a top five or top 10 national advertiser in audio and any given month right now. Like, and you know, it’s not like rocket science. In their case, it is actually promo code driven. It’s like a 60 second spot of course, we’ve tested millions and zillions of creatives, but download the app, use the code, whatever. That’s it. I mean, that’s it. And that’s how we measure performance. Nothing fancy. So, and they started with like a zero dollar budget a couple of years ago and now it’s literally seven figures a week in peak seasons at least. Usually you do your radio buys weekly, so we often talk in weekly terms, so you’re committing to the next week. So yeah, it’s totally possible, but it’s definitely hard. And yeah, connected TV is red hot, because for a lot of reasons, but especially because you can do IP -based conversion tracking, i .e., device watched the program, different device, but same IP converted via phone. A week later, I’m gonna attribute the conversion back to the CTV campaign. So it feels like a digital campaign, because it’s got this pixel tracking, you’ve got a dashboard you can log in. In my personal experience, CTV is also like a major culprit of over attribution and needs to be measured with a little bit more of a critical eye from an attribution perspective. But also I think from an advertiser perspective, it’s way easier. Like it’s so much less annoying than running Facebook or TikTok or something. Yeah, you can test creatives, but you might test a couple every couple of months or something. Like it’s just there’s not an expectation that you’re going to cycle creatives as aggressively. And it’s not like there’s that much campaign management to do. I mean, of course, people in the CTV industry will say, 

Matt Widdoes 

yeah, you’re running it down the pipe though. It’s like, let’s just see what happens when we come out. 

Adam Lovallo 

There’s only a certain number of programs. Like it’s relatively straightforward. So I think a lot of people I’ve seen a lot of advertisers take dollars out of these. What I would consider to be good, but labor intensive channels like Facebook or whatever. And this being a little negative, but they’re kind of like, well, okay, Facebook, I said had to have a hundred dollar CAC, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass. And I’m already getting a hundred twenty dollar CAC. Let me just go run the CTV stuff. I’m going to actually tolerate over here a hundred fifty dollar CAC because of simplicity but it’s so much less work. And also, I think it maybe has more of a halo effect, rightly or wrongly. I just kind of assume that it does. And it’s definitely like more prestigious. Like nobody has ever sent their Facebook ad to their mom. Everybody will send their ad that’s going to run a Hulu or something because it’s like just way cooler. And so I think that’s a bit cynical, but that’s part of the reason why money is flooding the CTV. Because it’s like a little bit more cost competitive with Facebook as Facebook has gotten more expensive. And it’s so much easier to deal with that it’s like screw it. 

Matt Widdoes 

And the minimums have come down considerably. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh my God. I mean, a couple of years ago, if you wanted to test TV TV, it would be rare to find a media buying agency that wasn’t asking for a couple hundred grand minimum to test. 

Matt Widdoes 

And you might run a hundred on the creative. 

Adam Lovallo 

Right. Separate from the creative. Now you can go sign up self -serve for, you know, Mountain or any one of these platforms and spend ten grand and you could upload your shitty Facebook video. You know, that’s what you want to do. 

Matt Widdoes 

So I’ve seen those two where there’s a show that sometimes I’ll pull up on. It must be on YouTube TV. TV or something like that or YouTube, but through the TV and get these ads for this like local lawyer that is like, he’s clearly reading, he’s super sweaty and like bright, bright hot lit. It almost, in fact, it actually appears like a joke. It appears like a parody of a bad lawyer ad. It just is a real bad lawyer ad. And he’s got like thick glasses and his eyes are crossed a little bit. And it’s like the whole thing is kind of like strikingly comedic until you realize at the end, like, no, that’s just a real, that’s not a, that’s not a parody ad. But it’s like, you know, that guy’s running it. Like he’s managing the campaign. He’s recording it direct on his like, it’s a zoom recording kind of, you know, for sure. I mean, he has like one really hot light or something like that. But my sense is, you know, typically when you see ads over and over again, if you’ve ever worked in performance, the odds are it’s making money. Like if they keep running it, it’s like, if you’ve seen it for five years, it’s working. 

Adam Lovallo 

Like, like, yeah. Yeah, that’s the knock on CTV is the frequency issue. But I was talking to an industry analyst, Wall Street guy, and I was like, no performance marker on the planet cares at all about frequency. Like, honestly, like it’s either working or it’s not. And like, whatever, if one guy, one end user happens to watch my thing 30 times and gets annoyed, like, I don’t care, I got bigger fish to fry. Cause this thing’s still working when I look at the math. So that’s for sure the knock on CTV though. And it’s totally true. I mean, I have none. I keep that supported tears on for some of these things. And I just get hammered by the same Tide 30 second spot or whatever, like ruthless. 

Matt Widdoes 

That’s funny. Cause I was, I was talking with a friend who he’s like, man, have you been seeing these ads? And I’m like, oh, I don’t, I don’t have ads on. And I don’t, and I probably should, but like, and I think at some point in the past, I, I mean, at some point I did, but I’m at the point where I’m just like, I’m not, and you know, I’m not running media these days. We have people on our team that are running the media. So it’s like, I don’t, I don’t need it contextually, but I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m like, there’s just so much of it. And when I am seeing ads, I’m seeing the same stuff over and over still. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh yeah. It’s a significant, I don’t know how big of a problem it is, but it’s a, it’s a, I think it’s an immature market. So there’s not that much advertiser to jam yet. So it’ll naturally kind of clean itself up. Facebook, 10 years ago, also you saw a lot of the same stuff repeatedly. I mean, I remember at the early days, Living Social was a massive Facebook advertiser as a percentage of Facebook revenue. And I knew personally knew like five or 10 of the other big advertiser like Zynga, Playdom and a handful of others. Like I knew the guys who were running those campaigns and we were between us probably one out of every four ad impressions, you know, some crazy number. So I’m sure this CTV stuff will naturally sort of distribute. 

Matt Widdoes 

Cool. So, you know, one other thing to chat through, and I’m curious to hear your take, you know, lots of stories lately and just kind of a constant drumbeat of all of the changes in the landscape of tracking and data. And, you know, some of those trends. And in some ways, maybe there’s like a sky is falling element to that. But what I’ve observed is that there’s actually more that’s maybe stayed the same than has changed. I’m curious to hear your take on that. We could talk about some of the new limitations, benefit at least for all companies is that everybody’s facing those same constraints. So it’s not like it affects everybody more or less equally. Although the larger you are, the more first party that you have, you’re going to be less impacted. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, not quite so equally. But yes. 

Matt Widdoes 

I think like, yeah, all things being equal, it’s everybody’s playing within the same rules on some level. I’m curious, what have you, well, I guess one, do you agree with that? And then two, what have you seen or what might you call out as the things that have ultimately stayed the same for as a counterpoint? 

Adam Lovallo 

At the end of the day, Living Social, daily deals company again, the e -commerce thing, our budget distribution. of Facebook and Google spend is about the same as most of my e -commerce clients 12 years ago. Right. So it’s like, okay, but let’s see what’s changed. Instagram didn’t exist. I don’t even know if Facebook had a native mobile app. Actually, no, it didn’t because it predates the whole app ecosystem. There wasn’t much mobile web traffic. Now it’s obviously the majority. There were some, but not a lot. It was mostly from desktop Facebook usage. And yet, you know, Facebook was 40% of spend and Google is 55. And then we had affiliates and some other stuff. And that I just described the marketing breakdown for most e -commerce companies, not all, but most. Oh, and by the way, we ran TV and send some direct mail or whatever, which also are still things, although now there’s the CTV form. So I don’t know. I don’t find that it’s at least in the performance ecosystem. I don’t think it’s changed that much. Some things that I do think that are notable. One, the whole app ecosystem didn’t exist. So that’s pretty material. It’s kind of like a whole different world through which you can acquire. It’s funny to me how like web and mobile web is kind of a thing and then app is kind of a thing and they actually don’t really overlap that much, even though the users totally cross pollinate. But like you run certain channels for the web stuff and you run certain channels for the app stuff and you use certain tracking tools over here and as opposed to over there. You do kind of have this bizarre divide, but that’s a big change. Second big change, at least from my perspective, is programmatic display, like normal display advertising used to be a much greater percentage of performance marketing budgets, 10 years ago or whatever, at least for me personally. And I think for the whole ecosystem. 

Matt Widdoes 

It would be competing maybe half or a third or maybe a quarter of Facebook, but still large. I mean, not insignificant. 

Adam Lovallo 

Right. Yeah. Like we were spending real money with ad networks run by AOL and Yahoo and MSN and even there were specialty ad networks. And of course Google, which even at the time was the largest. It’s not that there’s no performance spend in programmatic display, there still is, but there’s a lot less. Mobile apps are actually kind of the unique case where there are large programmatic display networks of people playing games and the ads are for other games. So that’s kind of a unique case. Like if I were to take a hundred of my DTC e -commerce clients and say, hey, how much do you spend on display? It’s like 300 by 250, whatever, Dan. They’d be like, zero, except maybe they’re retargeting, you know, what’s the running through Ad role or Cridio or Google or somebody. So that is pretty significant. Like I was buying MSN .com homepage placements and stuff, fixed prices that I’m sure still happens, but is obviously way less important than it used to be. But otherwise, I don’t know, like it was all about capturing emails then. Seems like that’s still the case. Most people were basically doing some form of last click attribution. You know, yeah, maybe they dressed it up a little bit with post versus surveying or whatever. That’s still generally the case. You can still run geographic holdout tests to measure efficacy. That’s even more the case now than ever, I would argue. Like, yeah, it’s changed a lot less than I… that I… If you were to read, you know, AdWeek or AdExchange or whatever, I think you’d get the impression that the situation is so dynamic and complex, and you gotta read every single blog post to stay on top of it. But actually, like, kind of just keep doing the same shit, and you would end up in the same spot. For most verticals, the app world being its own, you know, that’s its own unique world, because it didn’t even exist when I first got into this, and it has especially changed thanks to Apple in the last year or two. But otherwise, I don’t know, the performance up is what it is. Like, now we have creators. Everybody’s obsessed with the creator economy for good reason. Ten years ago, they were called affiliates, and they had blogs, but they were, like, ostensibly exactly the same thing, right? Like, it’s not really any different. It’s just been rebranded. You know, creators are affiliates and growth is customer acquisition. Like, it’s the same shit. 

Matt Widdoes 

I think, yeah, now we need a creators conference, if we’ve got, if that’s where we have a new emerging. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh, trust me. I don’t even know. I guarantee many of these exist. Oh, I’m sure. But if that observation five years ago would have been spot on. 

Matt Widdoes 

And so, I’m curious, you know, what advice would you have, as it relates specifically to growth and hiring and team building and growth to an early stage founder? 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh, yeah, yeah. My biggest thing is today, between marketer hire and a number of marketer hire competitors, it is much easier to hire for these sorts of specialty skill sets on a fractional basis. And that’s what I recommend starting with, almost universally. There’s a temptation, you know, depending on the stage of the company, obviously, but to hire a 200k a year head of growth and then have them figure it out. And I think that’s fine. I’m not necessarily opposed to that. And by the way, the number of people who you could hire for that role today, versus nine years ago, is a thousand Xs. Like, nobody would even have this title. You know, I define growth as just being cross -functional. So it’s media buying, plus some technical stuff, plus some product stuff. You know, it’s just a cross -functional skill set as opposed to strictly media buying, SEO, you know, et cetera. Way more people have that experience and exposure now. So there is way more talent. I just think if you go on marketer hire and you grab a guy for 10 hours a week or whatever to help you with, I don’t know, paid search or SEO, whatever, that is a really attractive option because a lot of the work that we do is actually kind of specialized. Like the email guy probably knows way more about email than the guy who focuses more on SEO. 

Matt Widdoes 

Oh, they should, yeah, for sure. 

Adam Lovallo 

No, and so like, but you don’t want to go hire eight people and have one for each. It’s not even necessarily a good idea. So I think, like I said, there’s a bunch of marketer hire equivalents, like one’s called Bright Side Up, which I like, but I also like Marketer Hire, too. BroTal is another one. There’s maybe five or six of these things. And I think they’re really good. I’m obsessed with Upwork. Like I have multiple Upwork people working on side projects for me, like literally at any given moment, including right now. And so it’s kind of just like, you can also go through Upwork, I suppose. I like Marketer Hire because it’s a little bit more vetted. So I think it cuts out some of the like picking of who to hire. But I would do that before I hired anybody full time. I think every single time, maybe in certain, certain senses, that doesn’t make sense. But that would not have been an option even two or three years ago. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah, not to the same extent. You could go poke around, but it’s like that piece has been has been made much easier. So I’m curious, like as an extension of that, maybe outside of on the hiring side, what are some of the common or maybe like most common mistakes that companies make early in growth generally? 

Adam Lovallo 

I think if you don’t have a good handle on the actual economics of what you’re acquiring through paid, you can end up in a bad spot. And most often, it’s grossly overestimating the quote unquote PLTB projected lifetime value of the end user and or grossly underestimating how much the CAC or cost to acquire will increase over time. Because you could go down this whole rabbit hole where it’s like, OK, well, my forget about lifetime value, let’s say one year value of the user is $10. I think it’s $10. I’m not sure, but I think it’s $10. OK, and I’m working with that assumption. And my costs are creeping up. You know, my cost to acquire is $10. My one year value is $10. So our payback period is one year. And I’m kind of OK with that. But like if it turns out that the real value is five, I’m in serious trouble because my cost is already at 10. Now I’m at a two year payback period. And likely my cost is going to go to 20 or 30 in the coming years. It’s not it’s not probably going to decrease. And if you if you spend a ton of time like trying to make paid work and then you get to that point, like, oh, shit, like, was this even worth doing? Like maybe I should have just solely grown through SEO or maybe through a referral scheme or maybe through, I don’t know, something else. Because you can just, it’s easy to just log into Facebook, start running stuff, maybe get some initial traction and then think, yeah, this is going to be the thing. But in a lot of cases, it’s fundamentally uneconomical. Piad ads don’t work for the majority of consumer -facing things. The economics don’t make sense because it’s really expensive to acquire through paid channels. So that I think is, at least for consumer -facing stuff, a common pitfalls. It’s a combination of being maybe a little bit overly optimistic on the CAC side and then just bad estimation on the user value side or again, maybe optimistic projections. That’s, I think, my number one. And then my number two is getting the right funnel. And I mean sign up flow or first purchase. 

Matt Widdoes 

Everything. End-to-end. Life cycle, everything. 

Adam Lovallo 

That is equally as important as finding the right ad plus campaign targeting. 

Matt Widdoes 

I think it’s more but yes, it’s certainly equal. That’s the bucket right so it’s like –

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, they ship it in there like yeah, this is the v1 and I’m like well Okay, but like this is a v1 is six months ago Like we probably should be iterating on what the end user is seeing at a higher rate now Then at any point in the future because if I could somehow you know get the conversion rate to decrease by 30% So forget about hiring the Facebook ads guy full -time hire a front -end developer doesn’t even need to be a specialist We’re just like make change things I know Ever that has a chance to fundamentally change the economics whereas yeah, the good Facebook guy is gonna do a good job But you know, it’s probably gonna be what it is like it’s hard to really have a huge impact on that side of the equation That’s I think under invested in because that’s like products engineering kind of hard You know, it’s like pain in the ass not not an easy thing It’s easy to go run five creative tests tomorrow on Facebook ticks in the web one I think that’s the big five funnels the big yeah 

Matt Widdoes 

The big thing that I’ve seen and we talked about this a ton the analogy I use is all the stuff you just mentioned from product to life Well, you didn’t mention life cycle, but life cycle would go on there conversion rate optimization SEO all these other things One they’re not the like fun Sexy thing no, too They’re hard to measure and they take time like they’re not all hard to measure but they take time and There’s like this draw to go to something like Facebook because you can just look and be like, okay What are we acquiring at? But really all of those other things are essentially the bucket. This is an analogy I use a lot Facebook is just the water. And so when and what we see a lot of times are particularly in the executive suite where they’re like I’m on my way to work on the subway or I’m doing these I’m seeing our competitors ads all the time.  My friend is a friend with somebody on their board and we know that their CAC is lower than our CAC We need a new magician on paid. We need to be running more paid. They’re running running a lot of paid art, we’re trying to run pay, but it’s not as efficient as there’s. So the input needs to take place on paid. And the reality is, is like, if you think about it as a race, they just have a better bucket and you all fill up at Facebook and then you run them across the field and you try and fill up a bigger bucket and then you run all the way back. And our argument, and this is just for everybody, like this isn’t where this is not a sales pitch. I’m telling you, fix your bucket because, you know, these incremental gains that impact everything, all your organic, all your, all the other efforts, the more, you know, the better you’re doing it at SEO and the more site visits you get, you’re going to benefit from having a better funnel. But by fixing those and putting a lot of attention there, leveraging the water in this analogy to make sure that the bucket’s working, right? So like, yeah, we use water and we run it down the field real quick to see how much we got in, if that was more than what we got last time. And then we go back to fixing the bucket. We don’t go crank more water through and hope that the leaks are going to fail.  And it takes this group effort. It takes specialists in each one of those seats. And, you know, there is some carryover where in 2015, you could just crank Facebook and it would work and a good product would save you. And it just so happens, if you rewound time and spend a lot of time in 2015 fixing the bucket, you’d have done 50 times better still. So like one of those things that hasn’t changed is that fundamental element of like, it takes a village, it takes many different experts aligned, it takes, you know, focusing on, you know, that growth is really this cross -functional effort as you mentioned before. And you can’t just quick, if you ever could, you can’t do it anymore where you just quick fix on the Facebook button. And so I think that that under investment there, because, you know, no board is gonna be fist pumping that your email opens have gone up by 3% and that this landing page is converting at another 3% and that, you know, your statistical significance on your PLTVs is starting to get dialed in. They’re still like, okay, when are we gonna crank Facebook ads? And you still may have a Facebook ad creative problem and you’re not even really like testing the creative in a meaningful way. We’ve seen companies where we’ve come in and they’re like, nothing’s working and we just do like a sanity check. And we’re like, you haven’t updated the creative in six months and you’re at scale. What are you, what is going on here? And so it’s a challenge. And I think particularly for the early stage as unsatisfying as it is, whatever you can invest into the bucket is worth it. I get sometimes you’re like, hey, we have this much cash in the bank. We need to show a pop. We need to get a sense of it. It’s totally fine to take a sip of the soup and it makes more changes and show those like incremental gains, but you’d be way better running. You’re paid media one week a month and spending the other three weeks working on the bucket and showing investors or whatever you’re trying to grow towards these like singular dots that like this was the last week of this month, last week of this month, last week of this month, the buckets ready, give us more money versus like burning through all the money and being like, well, we don’t have that much to learn, but you know, give us more money and we’ll put more water in the bucket approach. 

Adam Lovallo 

So I think I have a good idea. I mean, to be fairly late, but my advice to people would be whoever is what maybe do or the whoever is like the lead engineer person. The question I would ask is like, okay, for whatever platform we are developing or have developed, how can I run experiments that change the significant part of the experience? And then how can I measure those experiments? And often the answer with that in mind. And so it’s hard to do. But if you can be in a position where that’s actually trivial, like you you have built the application such that you would expect to change have multiple signup flows, they are like test, it’s incredibly powerful. Because the actual experiments themselves are not that complicated. It’s mostly front end development, like I’m going to move this around, and I’m going to change the order of the steps or whatever. But it’s having the infrastructure that allows you to run those tests is really, really can be very tricky. But if you can find yourself in that position, you It’s incredibly, incredibly powerful. And I think our industry uses Duolingo as the like most extreme good example of this. They, my understanding is from day zero, built their own way to make any product change and then measure the impact, no matter how big or how small. I had them at a conference and they said, they actually use that testing infrastructure to test literally every code deployment. Even if that deployment has no impact on the front end user experience. Yeah. I was like, whoa, that’s crazy. Just in case, you know, in case they broke something and they didn’t realize it, anything they push, they run a test against it with a exposed and a control group. That’s like crazy gnarly, but you know, a simple version of that is super, super powerful. And most quote unquote growth people don’t do that because they’re paid ads people. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a paid ads person. I don’t look at it as a distorted, but that’s what most of our ecosystem is. It’s the people who are more product manager -y in their growth skillset that are best equipped to do that kind of work. And there’s a reason why they’re, I think the most highly compensated and the most valuable because like that’s a huge lever and it’s rare. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah. And it’s pervasive against everything, you know, for a matter of words. 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, like of course I increase the number by 2%, everything’s better by 2%. Let’s go. Like how else could you improve everything by 2 %? It’s impossible. So yeah, that is my between that and like getting that right. You don’t even necessarily need a product person. You need engineers who are like committed to this path and you plug in specialists to handle stuff like email or paid or whatever, or even agencies that if you prefer that, that I think is the cost effective way to like get started on this kind of a journey, assuming you don’t have, you know, billion, billion dollars to waste. 

Matt Widdoes 

And you’ve got a, you know, very popular newsletter could you tell our listeners a little bit about that? And then any other. 

Adam Lovallo 

Very popular is generous. So I started literally roughly 500 weeks ago, sending them weekly newsletters. Like I’m close to issue 500. And it’s just, it’s GROW .co, grow .co. That’s the domain we use for the conference business. That’s how you can sign up for the newsletter. And I just grab five to 10 articles that I think are interesting and some job posts and other stuff and I shove it in there. I don’t do a great, even our website is kind of broken. I don’t do a great job maintaining it, but the newsletter still goes to, I don’t know, 10 or 15 ,000 people. And I often get people, it’s mostly a way for me to communicate with my friends. Cause I’ll get replies from people in the industry being like, oh yeah, Adam, like that’s a stupid take. Like you’re wrong about whatever. Then oh, okay, great. Cause I do, I add my own sometimes uninformed opinion about whatever. Obviously it’s all growth marketing stuff. So yeah, if anybody wants to get that newsletter, please do and know that if you click reply and you type some stuff, like I actually get it and read it. 

Matt Widdoes 

And any other books or blogs or resources that you touch on? 

Adam Lovallo 

Yeah, yes, yes, yes. So I’ve gotten this question a lot over the years. There’s way more today than ever before, obviously, but I really like on the high end, Reforge is an excellent, excellent, excellent, kind of almost like online MBA sort of equivalent, but for specialists like in growth and other functions, it was started by these guys, Andrew Chen and Brian Balfour were like the legends of our industry. So that’s excellent, but it’s kind of pricey. So you got to like, you know, you may be talking like hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on which course you want to take, but superb content. That’s number one. Number two, there’s a site called CXL .com. I think it’s literally like conversionXL .com, I’m pretty sure. And they have lots of paid courses and like little nano degrees and stuff. That site is mostly focused on conversion rate optimization, like the stuff we’re talking about, but also has like some paid ad stuff and SEO stuff that they’ve slapped on. Those courses are significantly less expensive, like I think in hundreds of dollars, if I recall correctly. So those are good. I often write them. Starting points. Yeah. And the last two are kind of old school. Well, yeah, there’s three books and these are old school. Like I’ve been making these suggestions for like literally like 10 years. So they’re a bit dated, but I still think they’re relevant. There’s a guy called Avinash Koshik, who was a Google analytics in house Google like evangelist for like analytics stuff. I forget what’s coming. He’s at some other ad tech company now. He wrote a book called, I think it’s called understanding web analytics. And it’s just sort of like a foundational book about like how Google analytics works. Ironically, it’s like largely outdated now because that version that he described like just got deprecated a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still foundational. Like, and I still find it very valuable just to think about like how the, how the tracking works essentially. And so I really like that one. There’s a book called traction that was by two really good growth guys. It was maybe published four or five years ago and it’s literally like chapter by chapter Yeah. Channel for, you know, like Facebook, whatever. Excellent. That’s a really good one, even though again, it is dated. And then the third one, there’s a really famous book in the UX world. called Don’t Make Me Think. It’s by an author, Steve Krug. Literally like 15 years old. But it’s like the fundamentals of UX. And really the basis of the book is like, look at what users see. Does it make sense? Okay, then you’re good. And if it doesn’t, like that’s the thing you should change. And so because I think of growth as this multi -discipline thing, it’s like, all right, you get some UX, you get some analytics stuff, you get the media buying, whatever. And you probably end up being like relatively well -rounded. I think the ad side is the easiest to pick up now because between Facebook ads library, TikToks ads library equivalent, now even YouTube, you can just go see what people are running. Like that’s a good sense of what’s working really fast. So that’s made that part of the equation much easier. But yeah, those are my usual recommendations. And above all else, if you have money and can do reforge classes, that’s 100% what I would do if I could pick nothing else. 

Matt Widdoes 

Yeah, I agree. Really great content on that side from like legit operators that are really 

Adam Lovallo 

everybody on there. Super legit. 

Matt Widdoes 

And I think in some ways it’s like getting into some of the stuff that people wish people would talk about at a conference or something. 

Adam Lovallo 

Oh, yeah. It’s the same people that would present, but they’ve got 10 hours, not 20 minutes. And it’s all excellent. Excellent. But like I said, it is like a premium kind of a thing. So, you know, it’s not, it’s not, you got to really be committed to wanting to know this stuff. 

Matt Widdoes 

Cool. Well, Adam, thank you so much for the time. Really enjoyed it. Look forward to next time. And I’m sure our listeners agree. So thanks again for taking the time today. 

Adam Lovallo 

My pleasure. 

Matt Widdoes 

All right, take care. Thank you for listening into this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed hearing Adam’s insights across media buying and scaling and exiting early stage ventures as much as we did. See you next week on Growth@Scale.

Book a complimentary consultation with one of our experts
to learn how MAVAN can help your business grow.


Want more growth insights?

Thank you! form is submitted


Related Content

  • Raise a Glass to Innovative User Acquisition Strategies: Strategies for Startup Success with Andrew Allison

    Check out the latest Growth@Scale episode featuring Andrew Allison, CEO of Libation Labs, as he shares insights on digital marketing, user acquisition, and entrepreneurship. Discover how Libation Labs is transforming the wine tasting user experience through innovative strategies and acquisitions.

    Read More
  • A Toast to Innovative User Acquisition Strategy

    Check out the latest Growth@Scale episode featuring Andrew Allison, CEO of Libation Labs, as he shares insights on digital marketing, user acquisition, and entrepreneurship. Discover how Libation Labs is transforming the wine tasting user experience through innovative strategies and acquisitions.

    Read More
  • Episode 24 – Growth@Scale – Andrew Allison

    Read the transcript from Episode 24 of Growth@Scale. Matt talks to CEO of Libation Labs, Andrew Allison.

    Read More