Q&A Recap for WebiMax’s 10 Years of Growth and Success

We at WebiMax are proudly celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2018. Over the last decade, WebiMax has grown to become one of the top online marketing companies in the United States.

I sat down with WebiMax Writer & Reporter Pat Donohue and discussed WebiMax’s growth and success since its inception in 2008, as well as the landscape of digital marketing as a whole.

Here is the full Q&A:

Q: How have you seen the digital marketing industry change in the last 10 years?

A: 10 years ago, all digital marketing was focused on Google and social media was just gaining power but not yet as a marketing platform. When we look at the landscape of today, Google, Facebook and now Amazon have spread the reach that digital marketing can have, while more and more budgets are moved away from traditional media.

Q: What has WebiMax done over the last decade to adapt to changes in digital marketing and survive a competitive field?

A: We continue to evolve our service offerings to meet the demands of the market. While SEO still has immense value for certain clients, others need Social Media or Lead Generation to be able to provide them viable results. Our ability to adapt to the changes that take place has enabled us to continue to thrive in a fast-changing vertical.

Q: What are some of the similarities and differences you see between WebiMax and your previous business venture, VendorSeek?

A: When I sold VendorSeek is 2008, I was already beginning to see a shift in how marketers were approaching the online space. My thought process was to develop a company that could not only help clients with Lead Generation, like VendorSeek did, but to also expand into other offerings to provide clients with a full-service and comprehensive approach to their marketing efforts. The key similarity is that my focus has always been around results While other companies look hard at markers that don’t impact value to the client, my goal has always been to be able to provide our clients with a strong ROI by using our service.

Q: What have you learned over the last 10 years as the CEO of a rapidly growing digital marketing agency?

A: I have learned a lot over the past 10 years and continue to learn every day. Perhaps the biggest thing I have learned over the course of that time is that in business, you need to be agile. I am constantly evaluating the work we are doing for clients to ensure that they are seeing the best results. I have seen other companies not change their process and in turn, they become obsolete very quickly. If we were providing the same sort of strategic plans today that we did 10 years ago, our clients would not be seeing value from those efforts. The plans we are providing today will be different in 30-60 days from today. The digital marketing space moves very quickly and my focus is always to stay at the forefront of innovation.

Q: What is WebiMax’s next big initiative and how does it align with the direction of digital marketing?

A: Two newer areas of focus for us have been the integration of app development and marketing into our core service offerings as well as a specialized focus in the ICO vertical. We also have dramatically increased our presence in the .EDU lead generation space and continue to grow our offerings in Social Media, SEO and Reputation Management.

Q: Why do you think other digital marketing agencies have failed over the years and what are some of the challenges these agencies face?

A: I think the reason we have thrived and the reasons others have not is based on the ability to adapt to the changes in the market. I recognized early on that we needed to be able to make changes to our strategy and process very quickly to be successful. If you are slow to adapt to new platforms and aspects of existing platforms that are expanded, you will find yourself viewed as old news very quickly. While I enjoy that aspect of digital marketing, I would say it is a dynamic that not all businesses are faced with. The ability to have the foresight into what is going to be valuable for our clients is something that I feel separates me from other companies in our field.

Q: Is there any advice you’d like to share with entrepreneurs who are looking to embark on successful business ventures like yourself?

A: Look before you leap. While I would always encourage people to embark on an entrepreneurial venture, make sure you recognize that as a business owner in today’s world you are never really “off.”  You have to be willing to make that commitment and expect that you will need to make sacrifices to be successful. You can’t rely on investors. Someone once told me, if you aren’t willing to commit your own money to make the business a success, why would anyone believe in your business more than you do?

“Show Me The Proof That Facebook Is To Blame In Cambridge Hack”

Facebook is a merely a “conduit” and it’s “hard to say” that the social media platform is solely to blame for the data breach that saw 87 million accounts exposed to Cambridge Analytica. That’s the stance of Ken Wisnefski, founder, and CEO of digital marketing agency WebiMax, and he’s withholding judgment until someone can show him that Facebook willingly offered up this data that was eventually used as campaign subterfuge to steer voters during the 2016 presidential run.

Wisnefski says “it wouldn’t make sense” for Facebook to knowingly release such a massive amount of data. For its part, Cambridge Analytica says it hired a research firm to scrape it up and then went off and put it to use. With CEO Mark Zuckerberg now finished with two days of testimony before legislators on Capitol Hill, Wisnefski weighs in on the future of Facebook, modern advertising tactics and how online privacy has finally made it front and center.

1) First and foremost, relaxed oversight or truly nefarious motives? Cambridge Analytica claims in an April 9 press release that it “legally obtained” Facebook account data from a research company in much the same way “hundreds of data firms” have done in the past. For its part, Facebook has denied it was complicit in this “breach of trust.” Who is really at fault here?

Answer: According to Zuckerberg, he felt his data was breached in some way and in reality, there would be no way for someone to get all of that data unless they illegally accessed it or Facebook provided it. That will continue to be the core question: Did Facebook provide the data or was it obtained illegally? Until we know that answer, it’s hard to say Facebook is really at blame.

2) The data obtained by Cambridge Analytica was eventually put to use by the Trump presidential campaign (among others) for digital advertising purposes. There’s also plenty of talk of how Russian entities used Facebook to spread polarizing political content ahead of the 2016 election. The data also provided a way to learn more about the electorate and possibly sway those reached with targeted images and articles. At its core, using “psychographic modeling techniques” is what drives all forms of advertising. What’s the difference here?

A: While television marketing is not what it used to be, you can see a difference in who advertises during a football game compared to who advertises during a daytime soap opera. The notion of identifying an audience by what their perceived likes are is nothing new. The aspect that Facebook provides is it gathers far more data than just the fact you like a certain TV show; it has deeper insights into your behavior which can, in theory, allow an opportunity to target people based on their perceived political bias. Nothing has really changed in the marketing aspect but the fact Facebook has that much data on you, the marketers can be that much smarter.

3) Are we going to learn anything from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearings? If you could ask him anything, what would it be? What’s one thing you want to hear or learn from these proceedings?

A: The big question is if he knowingly released this level of data. While I could ask this question, I am not certain I would ever get a true response but I will say this: The level of data that Facebook was leveraged for is core to its ad-serving unit. While that data lives behind the scenes for those who advertise on Facebook, I do find it hard to believe that this level of insight and data would be willingly provided to a third party. That’s the key asset that Facebook possesses and one of the reasons their ad platform has grown so much. To simply hand it off? It wouldn’t make sense.

4) When viewed as a “data breach,” obtaining user data from 87 million Facebook profiles is a pretty big event. Zuckerberg said Tuesday that beefed-up security is on the horizon and it’s going to cost quite a bit to achieve that. Is the cat already out of the bag, so to speak? Do you think a Facebook with more rules and regulations will still appeal to users and advertisers?

A: From a user perspective, I don’t expect to see all that much of a change.

5) Companies such as Pep Boys, Mozilla and Sonos pulled their ads from Facebook once the scandal came to light. Do you see this as an emotionally-charged reactionary move or a general display of corporate values?

A: This is very irrational. In reality, it’s highly unlikely Facebook willingly did anything wrong. This isn’t a scenario where Facebook is necessarily the bad guy. They are more the conduit by which this information is stored. With that said, advertisers could feel that consumers will be “turned off” by Facebook advertising and they are going to move budgets to other platforms. I would not be so quick to make that sort of decision.

6) Is Facebook a monopoly? Some senators suggested that on Tuesday and with earnings of $40 billion in 2017, the lion’s share came from companies purchasing the digital real estate for advertisements. Is it so bad that a single social media platform is home to “friends” we know both in real life and only online?

A: Facebook isn’t a monopoly — they have just done the best job of growing their platform and keeping their relevancy. That might change over time, but they shouldn’t be treated as a monopoly for doing a great job.

7) The filtering of “fake news” and hate speech is also on Facebook’s agenda. Too little too late, squashing of free speech or an admirable effort to provide a service to the public?

A: Fake news is a hard topic. It’s hard to determine what is fake news. With some much “news” out there, it’s hard to validate real from fake. The notion that Facebook is shutting down sites that consistently promote false information is a good thing but with more news sources, everyone is looking to be the one who breaks the story and in some cases, that information is inaccurate. I think back to the infamous “War of the Worlds” broadcast. Imagine that today across social media? It would be catastrophic!

8) Speaking of the general public, are you encouraged by the fact that people are finally paying attention to the pilfering of information we put online? Does this event finally put a face on all those instances where people wondered how advertisements for products they’d previously checked out started popping up elsewhere and everywhere?

A: We are constantly being marketed to: Billboards, TV ads, radio commercials. I think people are used to the level of marketing and it’s how sites like Facebook can put out a good product by leveraging their ad revenue.

9) Are we watching the end of Facebook– with Instagram (another Zuckerberg-back property) as the heir apparent? Will these hearings usher a transformation into a more user-conscious platform or is this bound to be a dog-and-pony show until the end?

A: Facebook offers aspects Instagram doesn’t. Facebook has already slowed in growth with younger users. It will still have value but nowadays, there will be a shelf life for all platforms. Is Instagram the heir apparent? Probably not but what is… that’s the next big idea that someone is working on as we speak.

10) Knowing what we do now about how information we voluntarily add to the Internet can be used, will you be changing any of your personal browsing habits?

A: I am not active on social media platforms at all, which people find hard to believe because of my business and my level of knowledge on the topic. I have always been more of a private person and never felt the need to take pictures of my meals at restaurants to post them or finding the perfect selfie. So for me, there isn’t much to change. For others, I think the fact someone is able to make up assumptions about you based on your likes and habits, it will make people evolve their habits.

Ken Wisnefski Pens Article on Snapchat’s IPO for Financial New Site TheStreet.com

The Street 2From the agency standpoint, Snapchat’s ad platform hasn’t evolved itself enough to have value to anyone except very large brands that can afford to spend more purely on branding than actual return. It is reminiscent of Twitter, which could never find the magic of an ad serving platform that worked to generate returns for advertisers, and obviously, it has hurt the company immensely.

 The evolution of a key ad platform as a revenue source will be vital to Snapchat. It took Facebook a bit of time to get it right, and there is a concern that the company may see a point where ads are too plentiful on its site, which could be a negative.
Facebook is where the growth is.

Has the NFL Jumped the Shark?

jumped-the-sharkThere is always that defining moment in a TV series when fans watch an episode and have to say, “Wow…what the heck is happening here?”  Like when Pam and Jim finally got married on The Office or that episode of Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on a jet ski, hence starting the expression. After these “jump the shark” moments occur on our favorite shows, few ever reclaim their former glory. This got me to wonder if this can happen to a sports league, and more specifically – has the NFL jumped the shark?

Are ratings down due to over saturation?  That’s right, NFL viewership is down by over 11% from last year.  Some people would say it’s the greed of the NFL which has now expanded its primetime slate beyond Monday Night Football to include Sunday Night and Thursday Night Football. The league also now places multiple games a year in London forcing fans on the West Coast of the U.S. to wake up at 6:30 in the morning to watch a game. In Fact, LA fans have to watch their team “host” a game at 6:30 this Sunday morning. How is this not a money grab?

Could it be just a lack of embracing the future? The NFL’s recent restrictive social media policy, which prevents teams from placing footage they shot on their social media platforms, is an example of the league’s refusal to evolve with the times. With the meteoric rise of Fantasy Sports, more and more people are engaged in multiple NFL games than ever before. But reality dictates, they likely only have so much time on Sundays to watch a certain amount of games, so social media is one avenue that allows fans to stay current on everything that is happening in the NFL.

The NBA dramatically embraced social media, and it has had a major impact on the revitalization of the NBA itself. Meanwhile the NFL enforcing restrictions with potential fines of up to $100,000 on teams for social media violations leads one to believe that the NFL is being run by a group of old timers that don’t fully understand the way to build a brand today is through social media. Pulling back on the amount of content teams can share via their social platforms hurts the fan experience and is as bad as when the NFL eliminated touchdown celebrations. I personally miss the days of the Ickey Shuffle and the NFL having a personality. Not to mention penalties have sharply risen over the past several years which make game play almost unwatchable at times

Make no mistake, I am not one of those people tuning out the NFL…..but I also watched The Office until its last episode, even though the show was never as good as it once was.  Not all fans are willing to stick with a product that isn’t as good as it once was. For some great examples of jumping the shark check out Jon Hein’s JumpTheShark.com.