I’ve been fortunate to have known Arikka Greene for a while and have a lot of great conversations with her about the industry, life in general and more importantly what’s good to eat in France. She’s a charming, delightful young lady who definitely knows her stuff. When she told me she was taking a job with MegaUpload last year running their Global Sales Division, I thought nothing of it. They were at the time getting a huge amount of press, celebrities were talking about what a great company it was, and it sounded like a great company to work for. When they were shutdown and the founders arrested in January, it came as a shock to everyone including Arikka. She was nice enough to agree to sit down with Performance Marketing Insider and tell us a bit about the company and what going on. What you’ll hear is a story of a global company, professionally run with major brands and companies attaching itself to it. Nothing whatsoever like underground Pirate Enterprise that has been portrayed by the movie studios and the government.
Tell us a little about your background, where you worked before.
My background is in online lead generation. I have been working in new media space almost 8 years now. My goal is to become knowledgeable in every form of online marketing. Some specialties before working at Mega were email marketing, coregistration, online education, international lead generation and social media. I began my career in display when I started working for Megaupload.
How did you get the job at MegaUpload? What exactly was your position at MegaUpload, and what did you handle?
I was courted by Megaupload for quite sometime before I finally agreed to sign on. I was connected on Linkedin with the CMO, which is how we were acquainted. At the time, I was working for a French affiliate network in Cannes and completely uninterested in leaving. However, the CMO, Finn Batato, was, and still is, the most persistent and persuasive man I’ve ever encountered. He convinced me that Mega would be the best career move for me. In many ways, I believe it was. My position was “Global Sales Development Manager.” I was in charge of selling premium ad space on Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com (2 top rated websites with over 4 billion page views per month) to advertisers and media buyers. Since my territory was global, part of my job was to travel to international conferences and events to meet with clients, form strategic advertising alliances and figure out how to get the best ROI on advertiser media buys.
Who were some major advertisers and brands that advertised on MegaUpload?
Mega’s advertising clients varied across a lot of different categories. Common niches were casual games, gambling, Entertainment and dating. We also worked with many brands through agencies like AEGIS and Vizeum. I would rather not reveal actual brand names in case they wish to remain anonymous to avoid any drama.
Honestly, what was it like working for MegaUpload on a day-to-day basis?
It was a blast. The Mega team was, and still is, extremely close-knit. We are scattered all over the globe (Argentina, UK, Japan, Hong Kong, US, France, Germany, Estonia, Philippines, etc.) Every time we’d get together for a trade-show, it was almost like we were family. Most people don’t realize that Megaupload was comprised of a very small team. It was a great place to work because everyone was excited about his or her job and believed in the product and service Mega provided. The mantra was “work hard, play hard.” I personally had some of the best experiences of my life working with Megaupload. They really knew how to treat employees.
What do you personally think of the accusations, did you have any reason to believe that they were involved in pushing illegal copyrighted material?
Personally, I was shocked by raid and arrests in January. I was only responsible for selling the advertising, so I didn’t understand all the inner-workings of the company. However, I had absolutely NO reason to believe anything illegal was going on. Furthermore, I don’t believe Megaupload was involved in any kind of conspiracy like the US Department of Justice claims. I say this because I have multiple emails that tell me otherwise. My boss was conscious of the DMCA and made sure it was upheld 100% of the time. I have email strings to prove it. You can ask any of Mega’s former clients. We were stricter than Google on the ads we allowed and didn’t permit anything even remotely questionable on our sites. Why would a company purposely involved in illegal and copyright infringement dealings care about which ads were shown? Wouldn’t it make more sense to take any campaign and make as much money as possible? If I’m completely honest, we turned down millions of dollars in revenue we could have profited from because we actually cared about the user experience.
What is your opinion on advertising on other file sharing sites, is this a good business model now?
Maybe I’m being biased, but Megaupload’s advertising strategy was very different from many of its competitors’. Sure, there were popunders and standard IAB banner units, but the advertising was far less intrusive than many other file-sharing sites. Not to mention, on those sites, typically there are very few restrictions on ad content. Some even use pornographic ads. To answer your question on whether it’s a good business model, I believe for many advertisers it is still a viable model. These types of sites will always be traffic heavy and general population friendly.
You’ve made some of the most popular Facebook groups in the industry, what has been your key to that success? How have you kept drama off the groups?
I think my groups have been successful because they fill a demand from the true professionals in our industry. The key to a drama-free group or community is clear communication and a defined purpose. My groups are not muddled up with self-promotion or drama. If there is drama, the admins of the group do a fantastic job in taking care of it immediately.
What is one thing that you’d like to see change in the industry, and how would you change it?
I’d like to see the industry shift more towards higher quality ads. I know that usually it’s the ugly and intrusive campaigns that perform the best, however our reputation as a whole has been tarnished in part because we are associated with fraud and scams. I believe this can be changed by an overall desire to work with larger brands and more ethical advertising practices. It may be impractical to believe it will happen any time soon, but it’s my hope that eventually the gap between performance marketing and branding will narrow a bit
What are your plans for the next year? Where would you ideally like to work?
Currently I’m consulting for a few great companies in our industry. I’m unsure of what the next year will bring, but it’s my plan to move to Southern California in the next few months. For now, I’m happy working for myself. If I were to be company monogamous again, I suppose like to do something cutting edge. I don’t know how many companies out there could top Megaupload, but I guess anything is possible! I’m a big believer in fate, so if my dream company is reading, get in touch!
What are five companies that you really like and specifically why?
MobAff (mobile affiliate network with proprietary tracking and optimization technology that will be #1 by the end of the year), Infinite Traffic (Respectable private email network run by industry veterans and great guys) Intela (International lead generation and email marketing pioneers with global reach and a solid reputation), 50onRed (really great concept and creates smart products to monetize the web) and Zeeto Group LLC (forward-thinking and innovative direct response agency)
What is your dream place to live and why? Tahiti, as long as I had an internet connection. Why? Why not?