The following post contains excerpts from a recent email sent to all TripleLift employees by Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Ari Lewine.
2020 was bizarre.
We came into the year with huge expectations for growth, found ourselves tossed around by the pandemic, quickly righted the ship and ended with our biggest and most profitable year ever. We certainly didn’t draw it up that way but, collectively, we really made it work.
As a company that sits at the middle of a vibrant ecosystem, we know that we only win when everyone wins — our customers, our partners and our employees. If one is out of kilter, our business can become off balance. When Covid hit, we knew immediately that our success was going to be determined by the support we gave, as well as the support we got in return.
In early April, we planted the green shoots of our recovery by focusing on this very notion – supportiveness – in three different ways:
- Supporting our customers and partners
- Supporting society
- Supporting our employees
This Lift Letter is about how we made the idea of supportiveness a reality.
Supporting our Customers
We have the opportunity – actually a responsibility – to support those both upstream and downstream in our business waterfall.
- Paying customers 3 days early: Publishers were hit really hard by Covid. They pay their staff bi-monthly, but may get paid by advertisers/DSPs/SSPs, months after an ad is served. They are quite unfortunately at the bottom of the payment totem pole: it takes time for brands to pay agencies, for agencies to pay DSPs, and so on. We were in a position to pay publishers earlier than their contracts required us to, so we did. Three days may seem small, but it signaled that we had their backs. Industry media learned what we were doing, and I have heard that it inspired other companies to follow suit.
- #HelpJournalism: A major industry issue during the pandemic has been that news publishers are delivering critical information (so their work is incredibly important), but because of keyword blocking around negative and/or political topics, they have seen ad revenue dry up. Just imagine: it was (and still is) standard for brands to not serve any ads on a page with words like: coronavirus, Trump, election, cases, riots, and the like. These keyword blocks starve news publishers of desperately needed ad dollars. We developed a specific deal to drive spend on news pubs and dropped our PMP fee to 0% to ensure they get every dollar. Customers like GroupM and others got on board, helping drive more spend to support journalism at a critical time.
- Underrepresented Voices ETDs: When racial tensions increased over the summer, we asked ourselves: ‘How we can support more sites owned by underrepresented communities?’ We created an ETD, called UNREP, comprised of sites majority-owned by women, minorities and LGBTQ. We were able to partner with Google and others on the initiative and these packages are continuing to grow.
No company operates separate from the world. And, increasingly, we have found importance in contributing to the greater good.
- Every Meeting Makes a Difference: Back in April, many customers didn’t feel up to taking meetings — there were obviously bigger things going on in the world. So we partnered with World Central Kitchen to donate 3 meals to frontline healthcare workers for every meeting customers’ scheduled with us. In June, the program pivoted to focus on supporting crucial DE&I causes, specifically the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In June alone, we had 1,182 meetings with customers, each unlocking a $5 donation to this worthy cause.
- Combating misinformation: Most sites that regularly publish misinformation are ad-supported. That means we have a responsibility to think about the types of companies and institutions that we want to be in business with. We took the step this year to fire 19 customers based on repeatedly publishing misinformation about coronavirus and the election. Stuff like, “Coronavirus is just the flu”, “Its caused by 5G”, and other misleading information that serves to confuse people when accurate health information is essential. Because we aren’t experts in determining misinformation, we became the first SSP to partner with NewsGuard to help ensure our publishers aren’t bad actors.
- $1 billion ad spend milestone: We hit an amazing milestone this year – $1 billion in lifetime ad spend. To celebrate this, we donated the amount of ad spend in our first year – $69,718 – to charities selected by TripleLifters. Hearing how much the donation means to an organization like Crisis Aid International is heartwarming.
Supporting Our Employees
Around the world, people have needed to adjust to a new normal. We tried to make it easier to handle these challenges.
- Mental Health Days: It became clear in May 2020 that people needed a break — physically and mentally. The pandemic, the fight for racial justice, and a new way of working and living were taking their toll. So we instituted “Mental Health Days”, where everyone was encouraged to take 2 days off per month, in addition to any vacation or personal days. It started as a two-month thing, but given the feedback and results, we’ve kept it going since.
- Work From Home Stipend: We try to make our offices nice. We’ve had all the fancy chairs and monitors and snacks and such. But we know that most of us have never worked from home before and haven’t put in the same effort into making sure it’s a comfortable, productive place to work. We started by giving everyone $500 to outfit their at home work environment. That helped, but we heard that people could use more to get everything they needed to be the most productive, so we added another $500 stipend to outfit a proper working environment.
- Headspace subscription: Many people find meditation to be a powerful way to be less stressed, happier, and think more clearly. It’s not for everyone. For those at the company looking for a resource to help explain meditation and guide their own practice, we made the Headspace app available for free to everyone. About half the company has signed up.
- Q2 Pay Back Plan: As the company started to perform better, and ad spend rebounded, it became clear that the right thing to do was to retroactively restore all wages that were previously reduced in Q2 when the pandemic was at the apex of impacting our business.
- $1,000 Extra Bonus: TripleLift’s success is based on its people. Period. One way to acknowledge that is to demonstrate our appreciation by sharing in the company’s success. So this year, for the first time, everyone in the company received a $1,000 bonus, on top of any other eligible bonuses. It feels like the least we can do for the hard work our whole team has put in.
Each one of these things, on its own, is small. Taken together, they make a huge difference.
When I look at what we did last year, laid out like this, it makes me so damn proud to work at this company. I hope you feel the same way.