Daniel Yomtobian’s experimentation with the Internet began almost two decades ago when a family friend suggested he learn web design. Though web browsing was a novel concept at the time, Yomtobian charged ahead and enrolled in a two-day CompUSA course to learn HTML. Shortly afterward, he bought his first domain name and began building websites. He soon arrived at an epiphany: Websites weren’t the endgame; in fact, they were only the beginning. One site could lead to another, and it turned out businesses were willing to pay real money if you could guide other users to their site.
Google, Facebook, and Android have since changed how people find what they’re interested in, but the prevalence of video links, banner ads, and hub sites has continued to grow as the advertising world’s appetite for web traffic increases. Along with it, Yomtobian’s online activities have evolved as well. The 35-year-old Angeleno is the founder and CEO of Advertise.com, one of the largest online providers of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising services on the web. The Sherman Oaks–based company, which has an office in India as well as clients in Brazil, Germany, France, and Italy, reported revenues for the past year of $35 million.
“… it turned out businesses were willing to pay real money if you could guide other users to their site …”
Yomtobian has built several different business sites in the course of his journey, starting with his first partnership, Findology.com, then launching ABCSearch.com in 2001, experimenting with the incentivized search engine Scour.com, then rebranding and expanding ABCSearch into Advertise.com in 2009. Along the way, he discovered that in the cybersphere, quality is king.
“In the beginning, networks had zero quality control and advertisers had no way to track performance. Over time, the market has become heavily performance driven,” he explains.
The whole point of Advertise.com is to meet all advertisers’ ROI goals. It was built on the idea that advertisers need real people to find them, not users randomly clicking popup ads or nonperforming clicks. To meet that need, Yomtobian and his team developed ClickShield technology, which analyzes clicks in real time to audit the quality of each hit. “That’s when business really took off,” he says.
Yomtobian and his team began expanding beyond search and into contextual, display, remarketing, mobile, email, and survey products. This flexibility and willingness to experiment has allowed the business to grow even when faced with setbacks. “Two years ago we launched a
new platform and everything that could have gone wrong bug-wise, did. Business was offline for a week and it took months to fix the bugs. That kind of setback can be the end of a company, but we got through it.”
Central to Yomtobian’s ability to persevere lies in is his ability to overcome such obstacles. “I have seen so many companies come and go, but a truly successful organization is agile and can maneuver through the challenges.”
Challenges have been a part of Yomtobian’s life since he was a child. Born in Los Angeles to an Iranian father and Hungarian mother, Yomtobian quickly learned the importance of being self-sufficient and working hard. By the time he was 18, his parents had divorced, he had lived in 15 different houses, and he was “a bit of a wild kid.” His stepfather, a lawyer and now Advertise.com’s COO, guided him through those years and
taught him how to be a businessman. But those difficult years taught him to think like an entrepreneur—something he hopes he can pass along to his own children.
Due to technology swiftly moving toward hands-free devices such as Google Glass and the new Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, the amount of time we spend “plugged in” has increased. Since advertising is the number one way many web content providers stay in business, young leaders like Yomtobian will continue to play an important role in shaping the online world of tomorrow.