Josh Leibner started at Red Ventures in 2009 as a Paid Search Analyst and now heads up the paid media practice for our emerging relationships and industries. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, cycling, and putting those burned calories to good use at Charlotte breweries. Keep reading to learn more than you ever wanted to know about Josh, including the answer to the age-old question: “Does that guy really have a paid search tattoo?”
Q: When did you first get into digital marketing?
I first became involved in digital marketing during high school, creating viral websites that spread via the social/messaging platforms of the time, such as AOL Instant Messenger & MySpace. Once those sites started spreading, I co-founded a web hosting company so I could scale my own sites flexibly, while also opening up another revenue stream. That exposed me to both the publisher side of the digital ad business for the viral sites, as well as advertiser side for my hosting company. Those ventures were sold before I went to college, but the digital marketing experience didn’t end there.
After freshman year of college, I started interning in search and affiliate marketing for a small agency based out of Princeton, NJ. Starting at a small firm (8 full time employees & 3 interns) allowed me to get a lot of hands-on experience quickly, and also introduced me to a performance-based marketing model. How does a small agency compete against the big names? They align their goals with their clients and work non-stop to deliver results, even on mature accounts (sound familiar?). The digital marketing expertise and performance culture I learned early on were extremely relevant – and helpful – when I started at Red Ventures after college.
Q: What do you do here at RV?
I lead our paid media team within RV Disrupt, focusing on emerging relationships and business models. In other words, I work with a team of analysts to run paid search, paid social, display, remarketing, and native ads for a handful of our newer partners. Our team takes the basis of the traditional Red Ventures model, and looks for new ways to execute it in new industries. New relationships and new media sources make this work challenging, but also a lot of fun.
Q: As someone who has been at Red Ventures for a while now, how has paid search at RV evolved?
Aside from the team growing nearly 10x over the past 7 years, the biggest changes have been the sophistication of our technology, and the granularity in which we segment and optimize. As we have been able to create deeper integrations between our search campaigns, website testing tools, and our sales teams, it’s opened up levels of detail we couldn’t have imagined years ago. We’ve gone from fairly high-level of optimizing keywords and ads, down to optimizing for the user. This requires close alignment across all of our teams, and it’s a great advantage for Red Ventures that we have all of these functions in-house.
Q: Where do you see paid search going in the next 1-2 years?
Audience-based marketing will become more important and prevalent. Finding the right audience can transform typically lower-intent keywords into high performers. It’s all about the audience and where they are in the research and buying cycle. Search engines have so much user data due to the rise of smartphones and it’s only a matter of time before more targeting attributes will be exposed to advertisers.
Mobile will continue to grow, but that’s not surprising anybody. The key now is figuring out the best way to transact on mobile. The elusive “buy button” in ads has been talked about in the past for e-commerce advertisers to drive higher mobile performance, but hasn’t been effectively executed against. Emerging payment platforms and mobile wallets have the potential to lower barriers to purchase on a mobile device, which will likely influence new ad formats integrating these technologies.
Q: What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?
Exploring the use of YouTube ads, both for direct-response advertising and measurable brand lift, for a partner in the telecommunications space. Ads here aren’t as quick to produce or iterate on vs. traditional search text ads, so the creative process ahead of time is an exciting “choose your own adventure” style process to map out possible scenarios for the campaign once data starts coming in.
Q: Is it true you have a paid search themed tattoo?
No, but it is true that my brain automatically calculates the quality score of offline advertising. I cringe any time I see a billboard with small, unreadable text on it.
Q: What’s a fun fact that nobody else knows about you?
I used to produce EDM tracks and remixes in middle school using Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) software, and I even DJ’d a few Sweet 16s and graduation parties. If I had any free time these days, I’d start that up again.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? That’s not really a thing with an infant around! Luckily, Charlotte breweries are very family friendly, so that’s where some of this “free time” is spent.
Q: Lightning Round, go! Favorite Charlotte brewery?
NoDa Brewing Co. for beer, Lenny Boy for kombucha.
Q: Favorite special from the RV Café or Bistro?
“Dynamite Shrimp” (If the cafe called it Bang Bang Shrimp, a certain national seafood chain would have an issue with it.)
Q: Favorite Charlotte dinner spot?
Sushi 101. You might have a sushi problem when you don’t go there for a month, and upon return, all of the staff asks where you’ve been.
Q: Favorite item of RV swag?
Dark Gray, Lightweight Hoodie, Circa 2010.
Q: Favorite ice cream flavor?
Anything from The Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ. But if I had to choose, Dark Chocolate.
Q: Biggest pet peeve?
Superfluous questions at the end of blog interviews.
Read more from our Paid Search team! Check out Jill Nagle’s attempt at explaining what paid search analysts actually do.