Search Interviews:

Adam Viener is the Founder and Chairman of Imwave, a performance search engine marketing agency focused on driving performance-based sales to companies through pay-per-click search engine advertising. He is the Founder of Yazing, an influencer monetization and cashback shopping platform, where they get a commission on every sale they make and influence online. He also co-founded Cyberia, one of the first Internet access companies, in 1993, which he sold in 1998.

Adam is a recognized leader in the internet marketing world who has been on the publisher advisory boards of The Google Affiliate Network and Commission Junction. He is a Performance Marketing Association and Forbes Business Council member who has written for Forbes,, and Search Engine Land.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:38] Adam Viener talks about Cyberia, what it did, and his exit
  • [08:31] The roll-up experience and advice
  • [10:30] The genesis of Imwave and what it does
  • [16:41] Adam’s journey battling leukemia and how it changed his view on life and business
  • [20:05] The process of how Imwave helps its clients
  • [23:21] How Imwave chooses the clients to work with and the challenges it faces
  • [29:03] How Imwave find creative ways of driving traffic for their clients
  • [33:57] Imwave’s ideal client profile and customer success stories
  • [38:06] What’s the pricing model for Imwave?
  • [44:50] Adam discusses business growth through acquisition
  • [49:10] The idea behind Yazing

In this episode…

Are you struggling with making your affiliate program a success? How can you drive the right type of traffic to your site?

Driving performance-based sales through pay-per-click search engine advertising is challenging. Adam Viener recommends partnering with a marketing agency that can help you with your marketing efforts without increasing the costs. He shares how he helps companies build and launch a large-scale search marketing campaign to drive traffic that converts to sales on their sites.

Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, featuring Adam Viener, Founder and Chairman of Imwave. Adam talks about the genesis of Imwave, how it helps clients build and launch effective pay-per-click search engine keyword marketing campaigns, its ideal clients, and Yazing.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:15 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Adam Viener, who started and, which we’ll talk further about. And Adam I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out the podcast. And since this is part of the top agency series, even though we’re going to talk about why they’re not a typical agency, which I’m excited to talk about, I had Jason Swenk on, Jason talked about how he built up his agency to over eight figures and sold it and then now we did a separate episode on how they’re buying agencies as well as and how they’re evaluating them. That’s an interesting episode. Todd Taskey is always a great guest. And I love his podcasts a Second Bite Podcast, he actually pairs agencies with private equity. And sometimes he has found that they make more on the second bite than the first when that private equity sells again. So that’s an interesting episode again, talking about the valuation of agencies and Adi Klevit was a good one, we kind of geeked out on Adam our favorite software and tools and technology that we like to use, and from a productivity perspective, and she really helps people document their SOPs. She goes into a company and like she’s done-for-you easy solution to do that. So she’s always a fun guest as well check those out and more on This episode is brought to you by Rise25 and at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we are an easy button for a company to launch run a podcast, we do strategy, accountability, and the full execution of launching or running a podcast. Adam, we call ourselves the magic elves that kind of work in the background to make everything happen. That’s what we do. And for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships, I found no better way to do that than profile people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, go to to learn more. I formed some of my best friendships and relationships through podcasting. So I love it. And without further ado, Adam Viener, I mentioned this founder of Imwave and Adam has a really interesting background, and he has over 25 years of experience in the internet marketing world. He co-founded one of the first internet access companies in 1993, Cyberia, sold Cyberia in 1998, and continued to manage the acquiring company’s direct and online marketing efforts. And in 2003, he launched Imwave, and this was to leverage his expertise in PPC search engine, keyword advertising to help clients benefit from what he knew what he helped people with, with growing, high profitable new form of targeted promotion. And Imwave, he’ll do a better job explaining it, but it’s one of the leading performance search engine marketing agencies in the industry. And it focuses primarily on building and launching effective search engine marketing campaigns. Some of the accolades from Imwave is it acquired a competitor in 2008, which we may talk about. They’re recognizing inks, magazines Magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies, six times, and it’s not easy to do it once or twice, because I mean, you have to continue the growth to continue to make if people don’t know they can look it up to get on Inc. Magazine’s list of fast-growing companies. So do it six times is really difficult. And they want to just I just chose a random year here in 2009. Alone, they generated over 58 million in sales for clients. And they’ve displayed over 4 billion ads, and delivered over 96 million website visitors for clients. So, Adam, thanks for joining me.

Adam Viener 4:14 

Thanks for having me.

Jeremy Weisz 4:16 

So many to dig into here. But let’s talk about Cyberia for a second. Early on, we’re talking 93. I mean, I don’t even know what existed in 93. Was there even an internet connection? Not much, what did Cyberia do and what was the idea behind Cyberia?

Adam Viener 4:38 

Cyberia was we’re based in New York, Pennsylvania at the time and Cyberia was the area’s first commercial bulletin board system. So people would dial in with their modem. They would chat with people leave emails, and it was a local community bulletin board system, started with six lines so all six people could chat with each other and it just kind of grew. And as our business grew, the internet started coming around, I think mosaic came out in 2000 or 1995. And our customers, they started to want internet, email and internet web access. And we just kind of morphed into the area’s first commercial ISP, probably one of the first ones in Pennsylvania. And it just kind of grew from there based on just following the customers and what they wanted.

Jeremy Weisz 5:31 

We’ll talk about that kind of the evolution. Because then you started Imwave, but you were helping Cyberia at the time, like, let’s say around 98. You were managing their online marketing efforts. What were you doing at that time?

Adam Viener 5:49 

So Cyberia, we sold in 1998, to a company that was a regional ISP that was in the process of going into a roll-up, called So they were going to be one of the initial 19, ISPs acquired. They wanted to beef up their share of that roll-up and they acquired us just before that happened. And then that business, they went public on day one, finalized the acquisition of the 19 rural ISPs and then bought another 17 rolled them all up together and ended up selling the EarthLink. So that was the process. I moved from Pennsylvania to Northern Virginia to be part of national marketing group. I was the director of marketing for the East Coast. And then I left shortly after the EarthLink acquisition.

Jeremy Weisz 6:48 

Looking back at that time, knowing what you know now, would you have done things the same for Cyberia?

Adam Viener 6:56 

I think so. I mean, Cyberia was at a tricky inflection point in Pennsylvania, where we were a dial-up ISP. I think Pennsylvania had a pretty progressive cable company, and they launched one of the area’s first cable modem, cable internet service, and we saw the speed that they were offering, we looked around at what it would take for us to be able to match that kind of speed, and it wasn’t going to be very feasible or profitable for us, not being a cable company that had access to all the homes. Certainly, there were ways to do business access and direct lines and that kind of stuff. But we were very consumer-focused. We did some company websites and things like that. But we saw the writing on the wall with the speeds they were offering. And I think 98 was a perfect time for us to exit the business that we built and move on to the next phase.

Jeremy Weisz 7:59 

You firsthand, experienced a roll-up and in theory, it seems really good. I’m wondering in practice, if is just as good as in theory, like, rolling up a bunch of companies increases the value of everyone. And selling it, what did you experience firsthand with that, I don’t know, was good. And maybe some things if someone’s considering a roll-up now what they should think about carefully.

Adam Viener 8:31 

So I think a roll-up is a good opportunity for an exit strategy for companies that otherwise wouldn’t be able to do it on their own. You’re turning a bunch of smaller companies into something big very quickly. I think if you look at the trajectory of a bunch of the roll-ups, they shoot up and then they shoot down and they get acquired. I mean, that’s kind of been every time I looked at what’s happened in the past with these things before going into it. That’s kind of what I saw. For us, we weren’t actually part of the roll-up in that we sold our business for cash to a company that was going to be so as a founder, I wasn’t involved in any of the lockup period or any of that kind of stuff. So for me it was okay. I think the other founders were the lockup period. I mean, those lockup periods are there for a reason to make sure that the founders don’t sell out before everyone else has a chance to sell out like the banks and everything else. So I think a lot of people see the writing on the wall is what’s going to happen with the stock price. So I think you need to understand that going into it to understand what your value is and what you will actually be able to get out of it. It’s also a tough environment for our founders to thrive in. Most of the founders got pushed out up. I think I was one of the last founders. I’m not even sure they considered me one because I was acquired before that, but no when EarthLink acquired us, my start date actually predated EarthLink. So it was kind of weird.

Jeremy Weisz 10:18 

When you started Imwave, if I want to kind of hear about the evolution of the products and services of Imwave, when you started to Imwave, what was the initial idea, what were you offering?

Adam Viener 10:30 

So, it’s an interesting story about how I got into that. Initially, in 2001, had an idea for Imwave where we were developing software that would help people close their abandoned shopping carts via text messages. Crazy idea, we started working on that. And then in July of 2001, I was diagnosed with leukemia. So I got thrown for a loop there, I went through two rounds of chemotherapy each was 40 days in the hospital. And when I got, luckily, I got better. And that’s the good news. I realized after that, that I needed to find a job with health insurance and no pre-existing condition clauses. Going through that and having been in a situation where the health insurance wasn’t quite where it needed to be, I was lucky with the timing period, I was able to get continuation coverage, otherwise, I would have gone through that totally uninsured. And that would have bankrupted my family and would have put us in a very hard place. So I didn’t want to take any more chances with that. And that’s how I ended up working at Network Solutions. While I was at Network Solutions, I was hired as a product manager, I was in charge of their website business. They have a service where you can easily build your own website. This predated companies like Wix and some of these other drag-and-drop solutions for websites. And that’s what they had. And while I was doing that, I renegotiated a bunch of the hosting contracts really realized they were vastly overpaying for the hosting services, save them a couple $100,000 And as a reward they gave me $1,000 debit card as a bonus. And right around that time, we were talking to Google about how we could promote Google AdWords to our website clients, we had a partnership there and I needed to figure out how AdWords work but I didn’t have anything to market. So I went to the affiliate team there and I said, look, I’ve been a member of the affiliate program since the Cyberia days, I need to figure out something to market, how about I use some of this $1,000 and market Network Solutions and see if we can both win in that scenario and learn how AdWords works. So I plugged the $1,000 debit card into Google started bidding on a few keywords mostly around misspellings and typos. And I found that I was making a 300% return on my investment on a per-click basis. And I thought that was really interesting. For me, what I loved about it is you know coming from the ISP days of customer support and 24/7 support I could just focus on marketing driving clicks and get paid a commission when things convert, yes, I’m taking the risk on the advertising stand but if I can put in $1 and get three out you know, how many dollars can I find throw into this thing, what was the scenario. I came home over the weekend and my wife and I started banging out different keyword combinations for all the different products and at one point I was typing in some of this stuff blindfolded just to see what keys out with it for the fat finger combinations I came up with a keyword list about 300,000 terms and launched it and all of a sudden I’m now one of their top affiliate in the program I’m actually dropped was driving more search volume than their small internal search team at the time and things got a little bit hairy at work. They wanted me to turn over my keyword list and also something at this point, I’m starting to make more money through this than they’re paying me my job and you know I told them hey, I need to keep this separate if you want to talk about the affiliate stuff you know you have to talk to my wife, but not turning over my keyword list. So once we closed on our house, we had downgraded when I was sick, our home to kind of circle the wagons bought a new home where the affiliate revenues weren’t going to be as good as the W2 revenues that they wanted to see for the mortgage. And shortly after we closed on the mortgage, we decided we can run this business full-time. And if it weren’t for Network Solution, there are a lot of companies that have affiliate program that that it could work for. And that’s how it started. It was all of that $1,000 debit card. We’ve never taken any outside money, it’s all been growing from there. So we’ve made the Inc. 5000 list with six times off that $1,000 debit card, and we’ll hit it again with like next year’s income for the seventh time. And they’re really only buying less in the company and that we really leverage technology in order to make this happen.

Jeremy Weisz 16:07 

I want to talk about and I’m while you’re not a typical agency, in what you do, but I want to circle back to leukemia for a second. And how that maybe changed your mentality going forward. What were the initial it’s really scary, right? I mean, you’re in the hospital. And it’s just a scary thing to hear someone walk in and tell you what were some of the initial like symptoms you’re experiencing before you got checked out.

Adam Viener 16:41 

You know, it was crazy. One day I’m working out in the gym. The next day, I had a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. And I went into the emergency room and after 24 hours being there, I’ve been trying to figure it out, they finally took a CDC test and diagnose me and I was in the hospital from that days straight through the first round of chemotherapy. And then I was off for about a month or two. And then went straight back in for a second round to get it all cleared up. So yeah, I mean, were any symptoms unfortunate, though, is weird. One day you’re feeling fine. The next day, scary. You’re done. Yeah.