Podcast
Revenue and growth: Pillars of a business

How do revenue and growth teams interact with each other? And what's the best way to set them up for success? Listen to our host Melissa Zeloof, and guest Mike Brooks, SVP of Revenue at WeatherBug, dive into these two pillars that according to Mike, are the foundation for a strong business. 

A small but mighty team 

6:13 Mike - “We are, generally, an engineering and product lead organization with 40 people on the team, 10 are on the revenue side and everybody else is in front of the technology. When we think about what goes into the revenue team it’s the overall business. There’s a couple components: direct sales, programmatic sales, partnerships and business development, M&A, ad ops, and user acquisition and growth… We’re lucky in that having a small team, we can have growth and monetization in the same meeting every day.”

Two pillars of a business

7:43 Mike - “We’re at an advantage because growth and revenue can sit so close. If you think about the revenue/monetization function and growth functions in a team, academically, they’re part of the same machine. Revenue is the gasoline and growth is the engine. When you’re actually running the team, though, they can’t have the same goals for their day to day. Monetization is going to be focused on things like optimizing header banners and growth is going to be spending time on new platform partnerships, optimization and, overall, working on that equation… Everybody is going to be working on different things for the business, but it’s incredibly important that everybody on the team understands that they’re part of that macro equation of how we do business. Every day, the business comes down to two functions: ARPDAU and DAU. With those two functions, everything in the business follows.”

Goaled off of revenue

10:34 Mike - “As I grew up in the app world, one of the incentives that was also misaligned was that people were goaled off of app installs. If you were a user acquisition lead or a growth lead, you were being measured by installs… That is one of the inherent wrongs from the last 7 years of app growth and that is something at WeatherBug we have never and will never do. We will never incentivize anybody to drive installs, we won’t even incentivize to drive retention, and even the growth team is goaled off of revenue. They have just as much say in revenue with retention as monetization does with increasing CPMs.”

Measuring success 

12:35 Mike - “We look at three metrics every day. One of them is DAU. We’re mostly an advertising business so we can evaluate ARPDAU based on eCPM and impressions per DAU. Those are the two micro metrics that we look at from a monetization side because eCPMs change with the campaigns coming in and out but the impressions per DAU is a function of ad serving technology. Whether or not it’s a partnership conversation or a screw we have to tighten, there’s considerable growth to be had in internal economic operations … But again, we really only break down the ARPDAU to those two functions and every day we get an email saying how those three did and those three equal revenue.”

Revenue or growth? Take your pick

13:57 Mike - “Revenue, 100%. If you start with your user base, you can build what might be an unsustainable model. You don’t know if it’s unsustainable until the business has caught up to it, but when you’re spending the money that you make, that’s a different level of bootstrapping and empowering. For example, I would rather us take $1 million in profit and put it into UA than spend UA, hoping we are going to make the money back.” 

15:59 Mike - “When I think about the challenges of the future, data flows become very important. When I think about the revenue team, who I think the next three hires will be, they actually won’t be revenue-generating roles but probably be operations and data engineering. The future of advertising and mobile, etc., with issues with IDFA and identifiers, will be that transmissibility of identity - targeting attribution becomes more of a science and the technical prowess you need to partner with other companies becomes much higher.

At the same time, a leading growth team is important. I would rather folks have a team of three or four focused completely on big, high-level partnerships and then test a couple things through but if you’re getting into the 50s or 60s, you definitely need to have your revenue together by that point.”

Creativity, kindness, and flexibility 

17:57 Mike - “Because we’re so small, we rely a ton on inbound emails and calls and LinkedIn messages of people who want to work with us. We don’t have a huge outbound team. Our strategy, rather than doing a closed RFP, growth partnership world, is to get up on stage and say here are the things that are important to us. We focus on creativity, kindness, and flexibility. Particularly in our space, that goes a really long way. Our competitors have been out there a while and are a little bit old school and hard to work with. We differentiate in the B2B marketplace by being great to work with, being creative, and being honest with partners.”

Being on brand 

20:14 Mike - “The big growth-step functions in WeatherBug’s history have all been branded related. When I think about what is going to bring WeatherBug from 14 million users to 140 million users, that’s about people being made aware and comfortable with the brand. In general, especially in our world, brand is way under-resourced. I don’t know if I would ever put a brand person over a performance person on a marketing team and while attribution is very important, we think about how people think of WeatherBug today, how they have historically, and how we should be making investments… Attribution is kind of a religion anyways and you just have to believe whatever you pick.”

Relationships as the key differentiator  

22:39 Mike - “We’re spending 4x as much today than we were when I got here and we are doing it with 40% of the partners. Long-term, maybe people will continue spending on Google, Facebook, etc. but outside of those two, relationships of people who understand your business and how to grow it are going to be the key differentiator. In the world of it’s gotta be self-serve, and I’m going to figure it out myself, and I’ll be efficient, people are going to realize that if you can build strong relationships with a couple of folks who really have your best interest at heart, ironSource is a great partner to WeatherBug in that sense and we put you in that bucket, that’s the future. The future is having QBRs with six partners, all of them getting more than $1 million, and us saying, ‘how can we partner to bring the gospel of WeatherBug to the users on TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.’”

Let’s do it. Let’s talk about iOS 14

24:27 Mike - “I kind of have two different hats on because WeatherBug is owned by GroundTruth, which is a mobile location VSP. When I think about this, I think about it from the two perspectives of a DSP and a publisher but for the purposes of today, I’ll focus specifically on publishing at WeatherBug. The IDFA news and IDFA going opt-in with iOS 14 is the biggest piece of news in mobile in the 7 years I’ve been in it. It is a fundamental change. It’s making tracking across apps and sites, opt-in by app. That’s the big functionality change. What that means ostensibly is the supply of IDFA goes down because not everyone is going to opt-in. Early on, ourselves included, numbers like 15% opt-in were flying around. If you look at a world where 30% is already limited ad tracking, and the existing world is only 15% of what’s left on iOS, is that identifier enough to be the gasoline to the engine? I don’t know, but there’s a lot of variables within that. 

This is the first of three things chronologically. This is the IDFA being changed, there’s still the cookie announcement for early 2022 where Chrome is going to disable third party web cookies, then there’s the question of what Google is going to do. This is the beginning of a big shift in media, I don’t think anyone is going to go under in the next 4 months as iOS 14 comes out, but I think it means that whatever you were running towards from a growth perspective, monetization perspective, you have to be very thoughtful you’re running towards a place you want to be going and that’s going to change in the next two years… This news makes Aura and Supersonic Studios incredibly valuable, 10x more valuable than they were a year ago. We love Aura and have been partners for a long time. Of all the companies out there, you guys are in a decent position.” 

Out of the box thinking 

28:23 Mike - “We had a partnership with the New York Post to do a CPI campaign in print. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. I have seen it done since for a couple other digital products but not yet for apps. It was very effective. It was in the beginning of COVID when prices of print were way down and we put together a pilot that today would probably need some mechanic twisting on the business to make them super happy long-term, but, for WeatherBug, a majority of the budget gets spent in digital and mobile which is fair because that’s where users are but we untouching the rest of the world. When we can start combining some of the strategies and things that make us successful that we know of in digital and bring those into the real world like print or even TV, that’s going to unlock a ton of growth and a ton of scalable growth.”

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