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August 21, 2018

Former Citigroup Analyst Max Lishansky is Monetizing the Web

Published: May 10, 2011

Five years ago Max Lishansky was sitting at the Citigroup headquarters in Los Angeles analyzing stocks, and today he runs two companies from his Culver City office and is looking to expand. Equity Media Holdings, his first company, began by running the advertising campaigns of big brands on the internet. His work included the likes of Match.com, Blockbuster Video and Netflix.

Lishansky structured his first company on a pay-per-performance basis. When he met with clients, the big pitch was they do not pay him until he delivers results. It was a no-lose scenario for clients because they did not cut Equity Media Holdings a check until they saw money hit their own bank account.

How could a company turn down Lishansky’s proposition when everyone else approaching the same businesses wanted $20,000 or more per month in consulting fees? Lishansky set everything up on a performance basis, where if he did not deliver results, his company did not collect a penny.

“Setting up performance based compensation seemed like the natural thing to do for a few reasons – it gave us a huge advantage in doing business with big brands over consultants who charge large amounts with little accountability for results.  Delivering results did not scare me. I believed in our skill set, and it was a fair proposition for both sides.” said Lishansky.

Lishansky learned the value performance brings early on. He earned a Division I scholarship in Track and Field, and quickly saw that delivering performance is the bottom line in business, sport and life.  When I sat with him at his office, he adds, “It’s what I love doing. If I don’t do a good job, I shouldn’t be compensated.”

Lishansky’s approach is to set up milestones that make sense for both parties up front. Then Lishansky and his team waste no time getting to work on the marketing. Equity Media Holdings prefers to create the marketing story from start to finish but sometimes companies have their own branded approach that they must adhere to.  

Once the creative portion of the campaign is worked out, Equity Media spends their own money in marketing their clients’ work while gathering every data point they can get their hands on. The real difference comes in the optimization. And this is where Equity Media Holdings shines. They have consistently been able to outperform competitors when it comes to delivering measurable results to their clients’ bottom line sales. Their past client list includes Match.com, American Express and large Universities throughout the US.

After several years of performance marketing nearly 365 days a year, Lishansky was ready to build his next company. He wanted to leverage his internet marketing experience into a company with tangible assets and enterprise value. Lishansky began acquiring premium domain names at below market values, and planned to build communities around them.

In mid 2009, Lishansky set out to create an algorithm that identified trends with upward advertiser eCPM momentum. His company targeted verticals with high visitor engagement rates where advertisers pay a premium to interact. This is where his years of performance marketing experience came into play. Once the algorithm was complete, he began work on creating powerhouse destination sites in those areas.

Fast forward two years and Lishansky’s new company is operating highly profitable sites in education, finance and news categories. I had a look at some of the sites and was impressed with the level of user engagement, sophistication and usability.

If you are wondering if this is a profitable business model, just look at Huffington Post who was recently acquired for $315 million by AOL. The beauty of it all is that anyone can start on a small level – just buy a domain and set up a blog. Grow your audience and see where it goes.

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