Sramana Mitra: Does that mean that you’re able to intercept the traffic before that traffic catches your client’s websites?
Rich Kahn: Yes, exactly. We place out an ad on the publisher’s site. The click takes place. That click has to go through our system for billing purposes. Before we go to the billing process, we go through our entire analysis to see if that click is good or bad, and we’re able to do the entire analysis in under 20 milliseconds. We got it fine-tuned, and it took years to get it down to that speed. We wanted it to be nice and quick. Once it identifies it’s good, then we’ll send it to the billing system. We’re intercepting the click before they even see it. This way, they don’t get affected either by paying for the click or if it’s a type of traffic that’s going to inject code into their site, we’re preventing that as well.
Sramana Mitra: You are capable of handling both types of fraudulent traffic that the client should not be built for as well as the ones that can potentially infect the client.
Rich Kahn: Correct. We’re one of the few that does it that way. Not only do we buy and sell the traffic, we’re actually right in the middle. We can actually stop the traffic from making it to a site.
Sramana Mitra: Interesting. Tell me a little bit about your company. How long have you been around? Is this a venture-funded company? What kind of business are you running?
Rich Kahn: My wife and I started this company back in 2003 with $5,000 of our own money. We have never taken on any venture funding. We’ve grown fairly fast. We were able to take the money that we were making and reinvest it back in the business. That’s been a great thing for us as far as not having to take any venture funding. Basically, when we sit down at the board meeting, it’s my wife and myself. It’s the two of us making the decisions.
What’s interesting is that in order for us to get to the stage where we are today, we had to step into the shoes of an advertiser. When we first started this company, that’s exactly what we were. We were advertising different offers that we would get. As an affiliate marketer, we would buy traffic from different locations and funnel it into different offers like lead generation or different types of campaigns that we can get our hands on to generate sales. That’s how we were able to make money in the beginning.
What I found out was as the traffic was coming in, we started noticing some weird behavior. The traffic was doing things that didn’t feel right. As a developer, I went ahead and put in all kinds of codes and tracking modules in place on our landing pages to track the behavior. I, basically, uncovered some click fraud. As I started playing with the code, I was able to go back to the company we bought the traffic from and requested credit. There was undeniable proof that it was bad traffic. We started using that to protect clients in real-time, which was ultimately where the product ended up going.