#208 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Ed Carey Founder & CEO of Audience Town
We Interview Ed Carey The CEO of Audience Town
Before founding Audience Town, Ed spent 20 years working for leading media, advertising technology, data, and mobile companies including Quest Magazine, The New York Times, Undertone, The Rubicon Project, Dun & Bradstreet, and Kargo.
Ed lives in New Jersey with his wife (look for Landis below) and three young children. He studied English Literature and Communications & Media Management at Fordham University in New York City, where he continues to teach digital media and programmatic advertising courses part-time.
00:09 Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Mail Right Show. This is episode 208. We’ve got a great special guest. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation. We’ve got Ed Kerry. The founder and CEO of Audience Town. Ed would you like to introduce yourself quickly to the listeners and viewers?
00:27 Ed: Certainly. Thanks Jonathan. Thanks Robert. My name is Ed Kerry. I guess broadcasting live around the world on Facebook in real time, which is really exciting. I come to you from Newark, New Jersey which is New Jersey’s largest city just outside of New York City. Also known as brick city. And if you don’t know, it’s become a hotbed of early stage technology startups. So we are very proud to be here. And I’m very proud and delighted to be on the show
01:03 Jonathon: And Robert. You are going to be impressed with this Robert. I am on holiday. I’m broadcasting from the co-working facility in Mount Chestnut City. I’m at the hall of New Age for here with the crystals, the Peruvian Siobhan I am in the center of it Robert.
01:27 Ed: Where is that?
01:29 Jonathon: It’s Northern California. It’s got a bit of a reputation. So if I kind of meant to tell you out folks. You will understand.
01:40 Robert: I still have my deeds to the show. But I just put them back on.
01:44 Jonathon: I thought you would be impressed. Robert, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
01:52 Robert: My name is Robert Newman. I’m an SEO and inbound marketing specialist that have well over a decade of real estate, residential real estate specific experience. I founded a company. Just go to my website. I have a lot of experience inside the industry in a very unique way. You’ll find it on inboundrem.com. I have articles to help educate you on real estate technology platforms and what you should be using and blah, blah, blah.
02:20 Jonathon: You need to get your mic a bit closer to you Robert. Or increase the volume because you are a bit shallow.
02:28 Robert: Hello!
02:28 Jonathon: A lot better. Now to start off with, can you give us an introduction to Audience Town and why you started the company?
02:42 Ed: Sure, I would be happy to. So I am the founder and CEO of audience town. We are a data-driven advertising platform specifically for the real estate industry. I’m sure we’ll talk about that during the podcast. The origination of the business is kind of fun. I had spent a career in digital media and what is called advertising technology. And I’ve been working with very large marketing brands and very large media companies and publishers on using data and software to power their paid advertising. I had worked at big brands like the New York Times. And then other small high growth startup companies that you have not heard of. I’m learning all about sort of modern marketing. And then a few years ago my wife became a real estate agent here in suburban New Jersey. And her regional office manager started talking to their office of agents all about data-driven advertising. And how they wanted to target relevant young couples in Brooklyn, New York specifically to move to the suburbs. A pretty common immigration pattern in metropolitan areas.
04:04: So they were very eager to sort of update their online advertising strategies to be more targeted and more efficient. And my wife called me and it really was an, aha moment. I think founders and creators talk about an, aha moment, but it was that for me, it was a phone call. I was walking home. She said, it’s the funniest thing, you know, my manager’s talking all about this stuff that you do. And I’ve been sort of on the lookout for a large vertical industry that wasn’t using all of these techniques to maybe start a business in. And it was an, aha moment. It hit me like a Mack truck and I went to go talk to her manager. I said, why are you talking about these things to your office of agents? I thought all this data, all this tech was just for big brands like Proctor and Gamble and ESPN. Why are you talking about it here in suburban New Jersey?
04:57: He said, well these are all the reasons. And I said, hey, how’s it going? It’s like, well, it’s, you know, it’s kind of hard, you know, I haven’t been able to do it. I called a bunch of vendors and I asked them if I could do it and they all wanted a lot of money to do it and it was just too expensive. So really high barriers to entry. I thought, wow, if I could just sort of actually make these data-driven ad products that I’m really familiar with. And that are changing advertising for the big companies. If I can help real estate agents and brokerages and really the entire industry of builders and multifamily companies and really anybody who’s got property to sell or rent, then maybe that’s a business. So that’s how it started. I started talking to companies, sort of in stealth and I was working in New York City and I was an executive at a few companies’ startup companies.
05:48: And I started talking to real estate people and companies and I did a lot of research. And when I uncovered research report that showed me that real estate advertising is in fact the third largest advertising category on the web. You know, it blew my mind. I didn’t realize that is sort of a hidden statistic. And so at that point I decided to, you know, hey, start calling people that I’d worked with and said, hey, you know, there’s a huge industry I’m in a real estate’s enormous. And they spend a lot on advertising and from what I can figure out if they’re having a hard time doing all the new modern stuff. So I think we can start a business here. And so lo and behold, here we are.
06:31 Jonathon: Yeah, he’s a bit of a Vallejo, that survey you mentioned, cause I read there and it was a bit, it kind of stirred my interest. I’m going to just throw it over to Robert because I’m sure Robert’s got some detailed questions to ask you. Over to you, Robert.
06:46 Robert: I don’t know if I do or not. Let’s start at the top level. So you’ve started with this entrepreneurial company and you’re using words that I’ve heard a lot like targeting your audience and you, you mentioned a very specific scenario in New York. And the only way that I know to arrive at that, well one of the most common ways I know to arrive at the destination of targeting a couple of moving from New York to New Jersey is going to be actually be using Facebook as the marketing platform. So in order to target somebody down to that granular level and get in front of them, either that or you’re going within like an old school list company. One or the other in order to actually get your hands on the targeted audience. So I’m somewhat curious. There are a lot of platforms out there using Facebook.
07:34: Like your logo is one that comes to my mind. It’s also in a very similar stage of growth that you are. So what are you doing? Do you know you’re logo and if so, what are you doing differently? And like, like how does that all, like because they’re doing an entire website and backend or is that what you’re doing? Cause there’s no, I’m not seeing, I don’t know if you’re in development for a software platform or if you’re just doing a more like robust marketing service, like I’m not sure what it is you’re really doing.
08:05 Ed: Yeah. Yeah. No, I think that’s fair. Well, let me describe some consumer behaviors. And then I’ll use some jargon. And then what I think about Facebook. So the consumer behavior is that you know, people are spending 11 hours a day with media. 11 hours. That’s half the day that’s consuming television content. Obviously smart phones that includes email, reading, websites, apps, just about anything. That’s 11 hours a day. So half of our lives consuming media and we can ponder that philosophically later. There are lots to ponder, ponder there. There are 8 billion digital connected devices in the United States. Sort of conduits to all of this media content. And about half of that time is spent you know, digitally with social media. And when you think about real estate in market consumers, they’re spending about half their time with social media.
09:22: This was just real estate audiences and half outside of social media. So my bottom line on that is Facebook is not the web. It is not where people spend most of their time. It has, along with Google as a company created fantastic dominant tools to make it easy to advertise there. So Robert, when you think what else is there? It’s natural that you think that way. Google and Facebook, Facebook is a $67 billion a year ad sales media company. And they make it very easy to target audiences granularly at scale and they’re very good at it. And so it was Google, but it’s not where people spend most of their media time. And so most of their media time is span across multiple devices, including their television and a lot of other things. I mean, do you read anything other than Facebook?
10:13: I know I do. I know you know, I don’t think anybody on this call is under 40, but if you were, you would be spending a lot less time with Facebook, maybe more with Instagram. But you’re spending time on apps and you’re spending time with media companies like the New York Times or blogs or Inman or Male Right? I mean, there’s a lot of ways to consume content. And to find people across the entire ecosystem where another statistic, 31 trillion answer for sale every day. How do you find all those people? And how do you find them at the right time? You need data to do it. So Facebook is big. It is not the only place to find audiences. And in the housing category now they settled with the FHA this year, which means they don’t allow a lot of really, I would say imperative targeting parameters on their platform anymore.
11:09: There are millions of companies, literally millions that plug into Facebook. Anybody can do it. It’s really not that hard. There’s different status of how you can do it. So there’s the one you mentioned Robert, I haven’t heard of them, but there’s actually a lot in real estate alone. There’s even more in the general marketing category. Anybody can walk up to Facebook and buy ads. Like it’s not hard to do. Facebook was built as a self-serve platform, so anybody can do it. It’s sort of a commoditized thing to be able to do. And so when real estate specifically, it’s got tricky because you can’t target by age anymore. So if you are a large brokerage or a multifamily owner and you want to go target people, who can afford a half a million dollar home, you can’t target people 25 and above, you have to target 18 plus adults.
12:00: So that’s just one example. So it’s got harder to advertise on Facebook. And some of the tools that we’re talking about using are called sort of programmatic advertising. Programmatic advertising is sort of a category that I’m talking about here. It is how most advertising you see is served and delivered, including on Facebook and Google. It is auction based advertising. Think of the way the stock market works. Equities that come up for sale in real time every second and you use data, hedge funds use data to decide in real time, you know, which stocks to buy and sell. That’s how advertising now works. And digital is bigger than TV when it comes to ad spent. And data is powering that and programmatic advertising as the protocol. So these are all they don’t want to overwhelm with all these jargon things, but this is how digital advertising is done on Facebook and off Facebook. And we’re trying to bridge these technologies, which are now probably 10 years in market. We’re trying to bridge these things to the real estate world so that there are other media platforms other than Zillow, Google and Facebook to find consumers at the right time.
13:16 Robert: I got you. Okay, so I guess my next question is, so I just, you’ve taught me something today for which I’m incredibly grateful. And I’m learning in the moment that programmed advertising is apparently a brand new, very important thing, which doesn’t surprise me. So I’m finding like I just Googled and found on smart insights, Hey, this is a big thing. It’s going to be the way that most people are buying their ads in the next few years. Great. I’ve learned that detail. What I still don’t know is it seems like there’s a bidding app platform that you as a marketer probably have access to and then you can bid for ads on your client’s behalf. Obviously if you’re on the cutting edge and you’re getting out there as like an agency ahead of everybody else, then you get to be a consultant, a service based company. Have you created your own technology or are you working on it?
14:08 Ed: We are, yes. We have created some and we are working on creating more. Yeah. So what we’ve done first is to really what identify unique. Well, I’ll step back, which is that the real estate industry has a lot of data. All of which you know about. There’s web data, there’s CRM data, there’s all kinds of transaction data. There’s municipal data, there’s all kinds of great data in real estate. It’s been used for many years to do a variety of different things. And you guys are pros, you’ve done this. And Robert, you’re right to mention that this is not new and in and of itself. The idea of that data sort of so-called buzzword, or term, jargon word on boarded to the web for targeted advertising is a relatively new thing for the category that I found. That is to source data. Find great data companies, great data partners that know a lot about consumers. And when they might want to move and where they might want to move and marry that to their consumer habits and their life events.
15:25: And then we sort of bring these profiles onto the web audiences and then deliver them relevant advertising sort of right ad, right person, right time, right place. And that’s what we’ve started to do. And then we are currently now our product roadmap you could say is writing the algorithms that would decide when to serve those ads and to who and then an underlying platform that would optimize the delivery of those ads. So ultimately you get more targeted ads, video ads, ads that could run on televisions, ads that can run on your phone, ads that could be converted into audio files. So they could run on like Spotify or native ads just about any ad format you can imagine would be delivered to someone in market at the right time, right place. So that is what we’ve started to build, you know Robert it’s really been the data stuff. We have a lot of software building left to do. So we’re licensing where we need to be able to fulfill our real estate advertiser’s demands. But what’s unique about what we’re doing so far is sort of onboarding all that data, structuring it into really relevant real estate audiences. And that’s hard to do and it requires specialization.
16:49 Robert: Gotcha. I would imagine we’re getting ready to go to break, but I have a follow-up question for those of our listeners that, that stick with us after the break.
16:56 Jonathon: Your senses are getting better. You get a top prize for that. That’s right folks. We are going to go for our break. We’re gonna be delving more in this fascinating world of automization and pointing efforts at the right people at the right time. We’d be back in a few moments.
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17:44 Jonathon: We are coming back. I am in holiday mood. Robert looks quite chirpy. Ed looks relaxed and comfortable. I think we are doing okay with this interview. Back to your question Robert.
17:58 Robert: You’re in the right place for good vibes. So those listeners that are listening to our show, our dear Jonathan is out being a hippie in the middle of Mount Shasta. He hasn’t really told me why. But he’s on holiday, which is usually my jam. But I’m super, super glad that you got a little traveling John it’s about time. So we’re with Ed Kerry who’s the founder of audience counting. He is amazing. Well he’s talking about amazing advances in technology, which I believe that he is working on putting together a unique solution. That’s what I’ve gathered so far. My question for you would be Ed. This is still in development, right? That’s kind of the impression I’m getting. You’re, you’re working on it. Is that right?
18:42 Ed: Well, we are in market. We have full capabilities and full service in market. Today what we’re working on is a more unique software building, more of our software to sort of power the data. So we are ready to go. We’ve got lots of clients from different segments of the real estate industry. They are targeting audiences in ways with their ads. They didn’t know possible. But what we are raising money to do is to build out more of the software. And really it’s the algorithm and it’s the machine learning and all that. It’s all the buzzword stuff. But that’s real stuff. And you guys know that it is real stuff. And we have developers working on making the algorithms to decide who to show ads to where and when. But those bases where are working on Robert. That’s right. But we are full GA with a good traction and good advertisers and showing good measurement. I’m happy to show you explain how that stuff, how that all works today.
19:43 Robert: Okay. So who might ask you to do that? But who is your primary target? So you’ve got a service you’ve developed. It sounds really cool. Lots of buzzwords. So who is your client?
19:59 Ed: It’s a good question. And I would love to hear and talk with you guys a little bit about this as well because we talk and think and contemplate a lot about who our client personas should be with these products. And the team that is here working on this audience town. Most of us are advertising digital media, ad tech data, and people. And we’ve learned a lot about real estate from clients and from working, but we have a lot to learn still. So we’re pretty forthright about learning the category as we go. And I might start by saying that our products have been most useful for in house marketing team’s at large brokerages builders. So we work with I think three of the top 10 national builders in the country. A few listing brokerages that are trying to drive a lot of in-market activity to their sites.
21:03: Our client today has not been like an individual agent, just sort of like logging into our product, building an ad and like delivering it. There are really good companies doing that today. There are a handful of them. We are not doing that today. We’ve been most useful where like an in house marketing team has data to share with us. And that’s a big part of the value proposition. So there are a lot of companies. The major brokerages that you all know and then very large publicly traded builders and multifamily companies that have huge, huge CRM, customer files, emails. And they’re onboarding them to our platform and then finding customers through our platform with ads that appear on mobile phones, ads that appear on computers audio ads, video ads that run on YouTube, highly targeted. So that’s been our customer to date.
22:06 Robert: Okay.
22:07 Jonathon: Well I want to discuss your recent article in Inman. And you presented a couple conferences. And you caused a bit of controversial, you’d been quite Skye even in some ways about things history at the present moment. Would you agree with that synopsis I’ve just outlined? Maybe you would give us an insight of your latest presentation and where you think then just three years at the present moment.
22:42 Ed: I’m glad you brought that up. Yeah, I was. So I was interviewed by Craig Row of Inman and he was asking me about what I thought about the state of advertising in the real estate industry. And I shared with them from my many years working in the industry, competing with and integrating with big companies like Google and Facebook. What I thought of it all. And I definitely got noticed. And I’m glad I did. I think what I’ve seen in the real estate category is that, it’s a large advertising category. And most of the money goes to just a few companies. There’s a high concentration of ad spend on Zillow, Google and Facebook, which seems to be where almost all of the money goes. And, you know, I point out to our customers and I pointed out in that article that, there’s a lot of I would say questioning by very large advertisers outside of real estate about the value and the safety of some of those ad platforms.
23:43: And, you know Facebook has had a lot of problems from Cambridge Analytica, which forced them to, you know, they removed their mover targeting because of that scandal. If you recall last August, you can’t target likely to move in tenders on Facebook because you know, they had been, reselling their data to third parties like that. And you know, there’s a lot of very large marketing started to question their advertising investments in Facebook. You know, the brand association of it, their usage is actually beginning to decline a little bit. Instagram of course remains popular, but there’s a lot of questioning about Facebook. And then, you know, Google is a company that also gets a lot of the real estate advertising money as it does a lot of categories and searches one of mankind’s greatest products. But nonetheless Facebook and Google operate by sort of grading their own homework, which is the term that means a lot.
24:51: I wish I did. I’m just borrowing all of the scripts from like Madison Avenue. And I’m now sharing them with your audience. But you give them a ton of money. Zillow is a little bit like this too. They’re very powerful in their products are very good. So who am I to say anything different? I am just a guy here, sitting in New Jersey saying these things. But you know, these are companies where you give them a lot of money. And just like Zillow takes all the money from the premium advertising community and then doesn’t give back reporting audience insights. You can’t connect your core customer file to the Zillow results. Same thing, Google, Facebook. So you’re giving them a ton of money. They run ads. The ads probably work. I mean they do. I know you can’t really deny some of that, but you can’t get a lot of reporting specifically attribution. You specifically, you don’t know. Google wants you to think and Facebook want you to think that every product in the world sold.
25:47 Jonathon: Can you tell the audience what you mean by attribution?
25:54 Ed: Sure. No. By attribution it means if someone goes to Google and types in one, two, three main street, a house, and they find that listing. And then they click on it and then they get a showing and then they buy the house. Google would say, we delivered you that lead. We did that. And that was because of Google that you sold your house. Simple, simple example. And you might say, oh, it’s because I advertised on Google that I, that I sold that house. And so Google will be able to take credit for that because someone just typed in a search bar. They were looking for that house. When in reality, people make up their minds about real estate over a journey of many months and many life events. Google did not make someone buy a house, but Google will via the reporting say, oh, it was because you advertise with us that you sold the house.
26:52: Zillow will say, oh, it’s just because you advertise with Zillow that you sold the house. When in fact, like I just sold my house. The people who find my house. They had searched for 35 houses over a course of 18 months and they decided to buy my house. So does Zillow bring that buyer to me? I mean, maybe they did, but they don’t deserve Zillow, full attribution for selling my house. But the way they position is that you know they did. And so that would be fine, if these companies reported back to customers how attribution works. So in advertising it’s called attribution. Did the advertising you spend money on actually sell your products and services or not? And they will say that they did it all. And they grade their own homework and they’ll say, oh, here’s the report that I sent to you and I did a great job for you.
27:46 Jonathon: Yeah. Thank you for that. You did a great job there. II am going to throw over to Robert. Over to you, Robert.
27:54 Robert: I will say this Ed. You and I like the world that you come from. It’s kind of the world that I was in before I started my own marketing media company. And the strange thing was is that I wanted to be out of the real estate vertical. I was already in it from 2007. And if being a really experienced advertising exec yourself, you know as well as I do the product or the service that you’re doing, however you’re deciding to advertise that you probably can do whatever you want it once you know what you’re doing on the web. The question is as an entrepreneur or like where do you rest your hat?
And you saw the same thing I saw, which is you looked at real estate and you said, wow, that industry is wildly underserved and it’s huge. It’s gigantic. And you’re saying some things that I really love the way that you’re talking about the stuff that you’re talking about though. I do think it’s like for the, for the people that we seek to engage, I don’t know how like for them it might be a little bit too high level, mostly in the sense that. And I’m not audience. I’m not talking down to you. I’m just saying that some, some of these questions like,
29:11 Jonathon: I totally agree with you. I think where we get into the crux of it. And we’d be having this conversation on going actually Ed. I feel we’ve been having this conversation ever since Robert came on board as my cohost. And it really delves into this really Ed. What is a lead? And it’s in the eye of the beholder to some extent. I see that you get the attention of possible prospects. And through different mythologies you keep yourself to some extent in the attention of that prospect. In the hope that when they’re in this home buying home selling process that you described that you’re going to be one of the legitimate people that they might approach. And that’s what effective advertising can probably do. But other people would say they want somebody in the next week in a particular area that’s going to buy a property or sell a property. They would classify that as a lead. First of all, do you think am saying the right words? Or have I gone down the wrong route really with what I’ve just said?
30:43 Ed: No, no, I don’t think so. I mean I think, you know, every industry has its own version of what a success is with marketing and advertising. In real estate, the term is lead. Other industries have terms like outcomes, sales statements, download, there’s all different versions of what successful marketing and advertising sort of result in. And I followed this sort of lead topic closely and I think the way the way it appears in real estate is that there is an awful lot of lead capture. You would call it, there’s a lot of just like it comes flying at ya. You give Zillow money or you spend money with Google. You hope all that is happens. You hope it comes at you and you buy it and you give, as an agent you might even give a huge referral fee commission away if someone brings one to you.
31:41: I mean 20 or 30%. But to get a lead in any industry. You have to also develop brand, you have to develop exposure. It typically requires at least seven to 10 advertising and marketing exposures to a consumer for them to decide to do anything. So how does a lead come in? They don’t just wake up and decide they want to see your house and plug it in Zillow. Or plug IT in Google or they see it on Facebook and respond. I mean, you have to show ads over time across channels, including email, including out-of-home, including you know digital and then that could influence them to become a lead. So leads happen through a sort of process and a journey that you have to take consumers down. And that requires you know, other marketing and advertising tactics.
32:33: And so, I mean our sort of thesis is that if you can make advertising and marketing efficient, well priced and well-targeted, you can kind of do like targeted branding that will result in higher numbers of leads. And those leads could come in through Zillow. They could come into Facebook, they could come into Google. We’re going to help drive the leads sort of into the funnel. So through different channels and format. And I think the lead thing is sort of, it’s hard at any industry to figure out where leads come from and what they really want and how to capture them.
33:12 Jonathon: Alright, we’re gonna finish off the podcast part of the show. Hopefully Ed`s gonna stay on for another 10 minutes. This will be bonus content which you’d be able to see on the Mail Right YouTube channel. Ed, how can people find out more about you and your company?
33:30 Ed: Well thank you for asking. And it’s all on our website, which is audiencetown.com.
33:37 Jonathon: That’s great.
33:38 Ed: The email is there, email@example.com. And they have all of our executive teams information is right up there. So audiencetown.com, edit audience, town.com. If you agree, disagree, or just want to talk more, that’d be fun.
33:55 Jonathon: Yeah, I’m going to ask you in the bonus content what you think of Zillow. And was he surprised with some of the response they got from the couple of conference presentations that you did? Robert how can people find out more about you and what your company is up to?
34:12 Robert: Well guys I am not like. I let my website speak for me most of the time. I am going to say this though. We’ve completed work on what I believe to be the best WordPress theme available. It’s proprietary to me. I’ve done so many things on this that I can’t even actually mention them on the show because there’s just the list is too long. But you can own this site which I’ve been talking about for a long time and we’ve been working on it for a year and a half, two years, spent a lot of money and time on it. So now it’s done. So if you want to learn more about that, you can come to the website, you can my site inboundrem.com and you can schedule an appointment with me and I’ll show you what we’ve got.
34:49 Jonathon: That’s great. We’re going to wrap up the show now, folks. Like I say, you can watch the bonus content on the Mail Right YouTube channel. We will be back next week with another great guest like Ed. Giving you insights to hopefully grow your real estate business, not only for yourself, but also your family. And get the success that you want. We’ll be back next week folks. Bye.