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Episode 24 – Mike Coleman – Channable

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Episode 24 – Mike Coleman – Channable

Chris Simmance (00:39.445)
Thanks voiceover guy. I’m really pleased today to have Mike, an account executive from Channable. How you doing?

Mike – Channable (00:44.7)
Good, glad to be on.

Chris Simmance (00:46.357)
Welcome to the podcast. I think, I think when we started talking to Rebecca a good few months ago, it was one of the first things that we were keen to do because I know you guys love getting in front of agencies and talking to as many agencies as you possibly can, given, you know, how exceptionally good your platform is. First of all, Mike, tell us who you are and what you do in ChannelBall. And then we’ll talk about ChannelBall a little bit.

Mike – Channable (01:08.316)
Yeah, sounds good. So my name is Mike. I’m an account executive at Channable. I can overlook our UK agency partnerships. Bit of background about me. Initially, I worked as a PPC analyst before kind of transitioning into client services and then ultimately kind of new business and partnerships. And yeah, currently now at Channable.

Chris Simmance (01:30.279)
So you were at the coalface, which makes hopefully this kind of conversation a lot easier from the perspective of the listener. How long were you a PPC exec for?

Mike – Channable (01:40.54)
I was a PPC exec for five years.

Chris Simmance (01:43.541)
Yeah. So you’ve seen, especially in Google, you’ve seen an awful lot of changes in those five years. I remember when I first started in PPC, it was 2011 and Google ads was green. and there were like four different things you could do. And most of it was keyword related. it was, it was an interesting, set of changes. Since then, I looked at a screenshot the other day of when I started versus what it looks like now. And if you sort of jumped between old and current, you’d get lost really quick.

Mike – Channable (02:13.756)

Chris Simmance (02:13.781)
So tell us a little bit about Channable. What is it you guys do and how do you work with agencies?

Mike – Channable (02:19.356)
Yeah, so Channable, we are a multi -channel e -commerce platform. So we kind of do a lot of different things. So we do the feed management, we do marketplaces, we do PPC automation, we do insights, and we do image transformation with our kind of image editor, which, you know, if you’re doing a lot of work on meta, Pinterest, et cetera. Typically when we work with performance agencies, it’s usually on the feed management, PPC automation, and the image editor.

outside of things.

Chris Simmance (02:50.741)
So there’s a scale based solution stuff. There’s also, so like lots of image stuff. I’ve changed a lot of stuff on meta ads in the past and I know how difficult it can be unless you’ve got some kind of thing in the middle there. Do you know, make one image into 10 versions of it and all sorts of things like that. How, how, how do you, what do you find like is the, I know the key.

feature that agencies particularly either enjoy or they come to you specifically for before they realize they’ve got all this access to all these other cool things.

Mike – Channable (03:23.548)
Yeah, so typically we would have been known for our feed management. So pretty much optimizing the feeds in Google shopping. And typically when I typically get performance agencies coming to me in the UK wanting to migrate across from their current feeds partner, it’s usually because of the added functionality we have. So for example, with the PPC automation element of the tool.

Chris Simmance (03:30.261)
Mm -mm.

Chris Simmance (03:40.213)

Mike – Channable (03:48.796)
95 % plus of your kind of normal feed management companies in the UK don’t have a PPC automation element to their tool. So it’s just a very nice thing to have. Nice for the clients, obviously, because with our rule system, you can kind of save a lot of wastage by setting up rules. But also it’s really, really something good that these agents, performance agencies can speak about in their pitches when they’re pitching to these larger e -commerce brands.

Chris Simmance (03:58.133)

Chris Simmance (04:04.565)

Chris Simmance (04:14.197)

Mike – Channable (04:14.684)
they can kind of talk about how we use channelable versus kind of, you know, a run of the mill kind of cheaper alternative, whether it be kind of an app or just something that will do the bare basics in terms of feed management. So it’s something they can talk about. It’s something that’s always interesting to these kind of heads of paid media, these brands that they’re pitching for, because it’s a very unique element that can, you know, save them a lot of money, but also the PPC element of the tool can save your PPC execs and managers a lot of time.

Chris Simmance (04:30.133)

Mike – Channable (04:41.564)
because it will create thousands, tens of thousands of campaigns and ad groups at scale.

Chris Simmance (04:44.309)

Proper scale, tens of thousands is proper scale. And so presumably there’s some kind of like reporting feature there where it says, you know, this, all of these cool things that the platform does allowed for, I don’t know, a better CPA. I’m just pulling up random acronym out of the way there. But.

Mike – Channable (04:48.368)

Chris Simmance (05:05.525)
So from a pitching point of view, agencies probably able to sort of say all of our campaigns that we run have a improved X number than other campaigns because we use the right tools and the right things like that. So must make it easier to kind of sell to a client from a pitching point of view, but probably helps keep the client for longer as well, because you can sort of optimize on those returns over time.

Mike – Channable (05:27.548)
Exactly, yeah, it pulls in all the information from all your channels in our platform. So you can kind of see whether it’s CPA, whether it’s RoAS, whether it’s click through rate. You can pull absolutely every channel you’re using in and get a clear picture of where you started from and where you are now. So, you know, very, very useful in that sense. I think what agencies also like about us as well is that we don’t do 24 month or 12 month agreements. It’s all monthly rolling with us. So, you know, the pressure is on us to make sure you’re happy in that like we’re…

Chris Simmance (05:35.989)

Chris Simmance (05:55.761)
That’s great. So roughly speaking, how many agencies do you look after at the minute?

Mike – Channable (05:56.38)
We’re getting new results.

Mike – Channable (06:04.188)
Well, globally, we have over 750 agencies. I’d have to dig into exactly how much per region. But I mean, we have presence obviously here in the UK. We also have our New York office. We have our HQ, which is based in the Netherlands in Utrecht. We also have a German office and we have kind of presence well in the Nordics and France too. So very global. And, you know, we do an agency partner day every year as well, where we bring

Chris Simmance (06:10.837)

Mike – Channable (06:32.636)
people agencies from all over the world to our HQ. Always a great event for people to meet each other, learn what’s working in other territories. People can speak about if they’re looking to internationalize the client as well. It’s just a lot of benefit in that.

Chris Simmance (06:35.125)

Chris Simmance (06:39.125)

Chris Simmance (06:48.469)
I know that the way people work in different countries and territories is different, but do you notice a difference in the way agencies work across the across the jurisdictions you look after? Are they fundamentally the same, just as crazy? Or are they that you know, is there something that makes, you know, I know, French agencies different to American agencies or something like that?

Mike – Channable (07:10.556)
Yeah, generally, I think they all have their own little things that are unique to them. Sometimes it can come down just to the competition in the region. Obviously, some regions are a lot more competitive, I would say. I look probably at the US, the UK, far more saturated in terms of kind of agencies that are competing more on a global scale. But yeah, they all have their own little things, I would say. In terms of, I guess, how we work specifically, I think, with agencies is that we also have our agency partner program.

Chris Simmance (07:22.517)
Mm -hmm.

Mike – Channable (07:39.9)
It’s a free, it’s free to join, but it gets you a lot of benefits. For example, things like you get an agency specific dashboard that’s been built based on 10 years of feedback from agencies. We’ve been going 10 years. You also get, when you join the agency partner program, you get invites to exclusive events, as I said, at our HQ, but as well as kind of localized events in regions with different brands and retailers that we run throughout the year. So we kind of try as well to be not just your, you know, tech partner that builds you for feed management.

Chris Simmance (07:48.053)

Chris Simmance (07:57.589)
Mm -hmm.

Mike – Channable (08:08.796)
We actually try to help these agencies to try and get them in front of brands and retailers when we can with our events. We also do offer co -marketing opportunities as part of the agency partner program. So we have what we call the agency stories. So each month we bring on a new agency onto the webinar from a different region. And we just talk through a topic that’s relevant to them. So again, it’s quite a good thing to kind of get your name out there.

Chris Simmance (08:12.149)

Chris Simmance (08:23.765)

Chris Simmance (08:33.973)

Mike – Channable (08:34.652)
globally because obviously we work with over 9000 brands and retailers as well so it’s a great plus.

Chris Simmance (08:40.981)
So it’s not just a great platform. It’s also a great opportunity. You know, sign up and yeah, you get all of the things that you really want and the things that do you good. But also you’ve got those tangential things which help you maybe grow your agency or learn something from other people at the events and so on and so forth. That’s, that’s quite cool.

Mike – Channable (08:57.916)
Yeah, absolutely, you know, we work with…

Chris Simmance (09:10.805)
Well that was rude. He literally interrupted you mid -sentence there. Go on Mike, you were saying.

Mike – Channable (09:13.568)
No worries. I mean, we, so with our kind of events, you know, we run different things as well. We run partner trainings. We have, we have what’s known as the Channa Academy as well. So the Channa Academy is when you sign up to Channable, you can just log in and learn everything you need to about the tool online. That’s very helpful as well. If you have a lot of PPC execs, if they’re new, you don’t have to kind of train them yourselves. You can just give them a login and they kind of run through everything.

Chris Simmance (09:21.909)

Chris Simmance (09:32.605)
Hmm. Hmm.

Mike – Channable (09:42.588)
way as well so agencies they quite like that one.

Chris Simmance (09:42.805)
Look at that.

That’s awesome. And and 700 plus agencies at the minute. What do you what do you find personally that you you know, you love the most about working with agencies? What’s the you know, someone wants to say here’s a brilliant job offer, but you’re going to work at a cat food store. What’s going to keep you here if it’s not the agencies?

Mike – Channable (10:03.708)
I think with, well I love working with all different types of agencies. I mean, I look at some agencies that they’re just so kind of innovative and cutting edge. They might have been around for that long, but they’re, you know, they’ve either kind of decided that they’re just going to do e -commerce or they’re just going to work in these verticals. And they’re just so on it with what they’re doing, whether it’s around social channels or around your Googles, et cetera. It’s, they’re just.

Chris Simmance (10:09.077)

Chris Simmance (10:16.341)
Mm -hmm.

Chris Simmance (10:29.14)

Mike – Channable (10:30.268)
They always want to do what’s best for the client, kind of save the money or essentially make the money. And they’re always trying to look to kind of to us and to where they can kind of do that. And that’s what I kind of love. They’re always trying to find ways to kind of improve.

Chris Simmance (10:44.341)
Yeah. And I guess that’s that helped you guys as well, because you sounds like you take a lot of feedback in. And if they were looking for lots of different ways to improve and the platform changes and the industry exchanges and the market conditions change, it makes it to a certain degree an opportunity for for for channelable to listen to what they’re looking for, listen to what is important to them at the time. And then you can kind of feature feature build that kind of new thing that they’re looking for relatively quickly, I’d imagine with the scale you’ve got.

Mike – Channable (11:13.596)
Absolutely. Yeah. So recently we got our TikTok integration and you know, we’re working with these specialist TikTok agencies at the moment. We have a very close partnership with TikTok and you’re seeing kind of agencies kind of come out of nowhere that you know, are getting in front of these huge brands purely because they’ve already kind of built up a name for themselves. So there’s a huge opportunity in that sense. We’re also kind of working with agencies then to kind of grow their TikTok departments. So…

Chris Simmance (11:21.749)

Mike – Channable (11:42.62)
you know, this huge, huge, it’s a great example of there being just huge opportunity right now in that space.

Chris Simmance (11:44.117)

Chris Simmance (11:48.341)
And what do you think, kind of, what do you think separates the best agencies out there from the rest, so to speak? Because there are thousands of agencies in the world and just in the UK alone, there’s a good number of them. Not all of them are obviously just paid and things like that, but what have you noticed as like a common theme as agency businesses?

Mike – Channable (12:13.692)
Yeah, I mean, to just go a bit deeper into what you said there would there being a lot of agencies. So in the UK alone, there are 7 ,000 over 7 ,600 performance agencies. All right. And in terms of that 7 ,600, that’s growing year on year and has been for the past five years by 6%. And it’s grown by 102 % since 2014. So that just gives you an idea of the scale.

Chris Simmance (12:16.469)

Chris Simmance (12:23.861)
Mm -hmm.

Chris Simmance (12:37.717)
guys, that’s actually those are numbers. I knew the first number, but the scale and size number, bloody hell.

Mike – Channable (12:44.348)
Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s crazy. I think that doesn’t, as I said, it doesn’t include freelancers in terms of what I think is working for some agencies and not for others. There are a lot of agencies out there. I think that have been around 10, 15, 20 years that are really just resting on their laurels. They’re kind of trying to, trying to, I guess, you know, we’ve been around for almost 20 years. You should just work with us. Whereby I look at other agencies, they mightn’t even be around five years yet, but they’ve kind of gone in on e -commerce or they’re gone in on specs specific.

Chris Simmance (13:00.469)

Mike – Channable (13:14.268)
verticals, whether it be fashion and apparel, electronics, hobby, garden, furniture, etc. And it’s those agencies that are extremely data driven. They’re always trying to be cutting edge and innovative. And they’re getting such referral business as well. And they have such incredible case studies that they’re just growing, you know, year on year on year that these agencies are growing, where by the ones resting on their laurels are just almost falling away. They’re noticing. Well, I mean, in terms of if you just look at kind of the

Chris Simmance (13:14.453)

Chris Simmance (13:23.701)

Mike – Channable (13:43.612)
the climate at the moment in terms of what things I’ve just heard over the past year working with some of the agencies, you know, they’re blaming the wider economy, you know, there’s troubles with supply chain, there’s, there’s trouble with sourcing products, materials, you know, margins are being squeezed, there’s lack of business growth, there’s lack of football in retail stores. And this is why you’re getting a lot of brands and retailers bringing more of their budget in -house, you know, wanting to reduce retainers.

Chris Simmance (13:59.413)

Mike – Channable (14:11.836)
and you know, are just reluctant to kind of sign contracts or reluctant to kind of sign for another year with you. That’s why you kind of need to be very, very good with your data. And you’re either kind of saving these people money or you’re making them money. And if you’re not, they are going to leave you in this climate.

Chris Simmance (14:20.693)


Chris Simmance (14:27.669)
Yeah. And I think one of the, one of the problems to your point, you know, resting on the laurels thing is, yeah, you could have a great set of case studies. You could have a great set of clients. You could have some award wins and things like that. But if you start kind of say relaxing, if you start coasting and go, yeah, we’ve got a nice bunch of clients, we’ve got a good profit margin. That’s fine. You stop looking as well. And it’s those bits, like you say, being innovative and looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things that.

that starts to erode over time. And if you’re the leader resting, the rest of the team start to do the same. And then that impacts client retention. That impacts the likelihood of referrals in the future and everything like that. And all these tiny little things knock on from the leader going, yeah, we’re doing all right. Let’s just, let’s chill out for a bit. Let’s set, sit where we are. Cause no one else sits where they are.

Mike – Channable (15:18.14)
Exactly, it starts from the top. And if your kind of leadership isn’t seen as innovative, it’s not going to kind of drop down to your account directors, account managers, account executives. And yeah, exactly what you said. And that’s where I think the synergy with tech comes in. Whether you’re kind of aligning with companies like Channable, or you’re kind of building your own tools, you need to kind of really, really, really be on it with your data and what you’re doing to save these people money or make them money.

Chris Simmance (15:27.381)

Chris Simmance (15:46.069)
Yeah. And, and quite a lot of these platforms because you’re multi multi -channel as it were. And so Meta and Google ads and things like that, because of all the, the ways that these platforms are developing over time as well, I guess having a, third party like yourself or, you know, and a, a tool in which you can use to, to kind of bring all of this into one place. It’s not until you’ve, you’ve got that, that you start to see other opportunities perhaps with how you run your operations of your business or.

how you market yourselves better because you’ve got all of this in one place. You can start to see there’s some trends here, there’s some trends there. If there’s trends in you’re saving lots of money on meta ads and you’re getting a better CPA or meta ads, well then that might be an angle to market your agency to start getting more meta ads clients and things like that. Or if you’re seeing that the complexity and the Google’s generative AI stuff in the search ads becomes a little bit more complex and a little bit harder to.

tangibly grow return on investment for clients, well then you might be able to say to the client, hey, let’s strip some spend here and put some spend there. The client will be happy, client will increase their spend if they see results. And again, the business impact is positive. And all of those things kind of happen in a good way if you’ve got a larger picture view and you’re willing to make changes and innovate and adapt based on what you’re seeing.

are you, are you getting many agency leaders come to you guys and sort of say, Hey, what are you seeing like a larger scale? Cause you’re as an agency, you see all of your accounts in, in, in feeds and all sorts of things like that. But you see to a certain degree, I’m guessing an anonymized version to a certain level, what’s happening on the wider trend in, in each of the channels, perhaps, is there anything that you use there in terms of like.

some of the meetups and the events that you do, kind of insights into what we’re seeing in the future.

Mike – Channable (17:41.788)
Yeah, I mean, you can definitely see things like the likes of how much the cost per click with Google is increasing all the time. And I guess with Channibals too, you can quickly see if something like a TikTok or a meta or a Pinterest is performing better. Obviously with e -commerce, everything is so transparent. You work to a CPA and you can see things quite quickly. So it’s definitely useful once kind of all that info is there and you…

Chris Simmance (17:53.365)

Mike – Channable (18:06.716)
you have enough data to be statistically significant. You can kind of see where you can get some quick wins and move some budget around. And as again, as I said, if your agencies that again are resting on their laurels, they have a certain budget for Google. They’re not coming to their clients with things like we’re seeing that we can potentially make you more here with Meta or with TikTok. If you’re not doing it, someone else is going to go to them and try and do it for them. So you do like use it. You need to be as data -driven in these times as you can be.

Chris Simmance (18:11.253)

Chris Simmance (18:29.237)

Chris Simmance (18:36.213)
Absolutely. And let’s say, channeble not resting on its own laurels, eating its own dog food, so to speak. You guys have reinvested all of the profits and the money that you’re making from the product that you’ve got into some R &D. That R &D is to create one single magic wand. And as part of the initial test, you can only waive it once. What one thing are you waiving that magic wand to change all performance agencies? What’s that?

What’s the thing that you wish every one of them had or did or was able to do?

Mike – Channable (19:11.292)
I would say be as data driven as you, as you can be. I know it’s a bit cliche to say it again, but just whether you’re using channel or you’re using other tools that do different things, try and just really commit, you know, to, to get these other build these tools yourself or get the data because you can absolutely change a brand or a retailer’s performance completely when you have more of this data at your hand.

Chris Simmance (19:27.573)

Chris Simmance (19:37.365)
Absolutely. And so something I hear that a lot, speaking to lots of agencies myself, I haven’t hit 7 ,000 yet, but I speak to an awful lot of agencies and a lot to say data driven with data driven with data driven. I don’t ever actually see it. I hear it. And something I something I’ve noticed is that the abundance of opportunity for data.

essentially creates like a decision paralysis with, with, with people. And you might be data driven, but you’re data driven crazy by the sounds of it. Cause half these people kind of, you know, they’re, they see all of the information. something I’ve, something I’ve, I’ve tried to do with, with the agencies that, that we work with directly is, is essentially you come into, a process with a hypothesis or an idea or a decision that you want to make. And then you use the data to guide.

the outcome of that. But if you just look at all of the data and say, what does this tell me? What should I decide to do? You do freeze and you don’t really know what to do, but you can still say I’m data driven versus I want to decide whether I invest more money in X area of my business. What data do I need? I need this thing, this thing, this thing. Then I can be driven in my decision, but start with the question.

Mike – Channable (20:56.316)
Yep, absolutely and then reverse engineer back to where you’re trying to be or as close to it as you can.

Chris Simmance (21:00.853)
Exactly. It makes it a lot easier for people to, you can, you can see trends and minutia in things if you start and work backwards. So I need to know where I should be investing money in the business to grow the agency. How do I do that? Well, I need this report, this data, this insight, this thing, then you collate it, then you know what you’re looking for in that data, and then it drives your decision on what to do. And

The interesting thing, I guess, as well is from your point of view as an organization, the data that you sort of pass on and give to agencies based on all of their platforms and their channels, you must have to be incredibly careful in terms of how you articulate what it means, because one number is objectively a number, but whether it’s a good number or a bad number is in the eye of the beholder unless there’s some kind of insight behind it.

So I guess you guys have to spend an awful lot of time working out how to articulate that. Yes, this is up month over month, not, but not year over year, but it is over the last three years, an upward trend, like how someone has to be able to understand that. So you guys must really understand it in order to be able to kind of manage the clients that you work with.

Mike – Channable (22:17.276)
Absolutely, I mean a lot of the time they would come to us whether it’s whether it’s being with a CPA target or a ROAS target so we have an idea of where they want to be, where they have been, where to try and get them. So it’s just a case of kind of building any data that we do give to them off where they’re trying to get to.

Chris Simmance (22:35.893)
Hmm. That’s awesome. Mike, we could talk about ads all day long. unfortunately we can’t. thank you so much for coming on the podcast. looking forward to this one going out because I know, having spoken in the last, just in the last week to three different performance agencies, it’s a tough time out there. And I’m pretty sure that, you know, if you’re, if you’re running multiple feeds and multiple client accounts and especially for e -comm, there’s.

There’s definitely better ways to create resilience. And sometimes it’s investing in tools and platforms that actually allow you to prove it. So thanks for having the coming on and letting us have the chance to listen to you all about it.

Mike – Channable (23:14.172)
worries thanks very much for having me on Chris.

Chris Simmance (23:16.341)
Thank you. And in our next episode, we’ll be speaking with another agency leader, agency partner, or agency supplier to find out all about them and what they do.