How Losing 15K on a Campaign Led to a Million Dollar Outcome with David Melamed of Tenfold Traffic


David Melamed is the Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Tenfold Traffic, a search and marketing agency with over $50 million of paid search experience. David has had a passion for marketing since he was a child, and over the past 10 years, he has built a successful career in SEO, PPC, and digital advertising. 

Before founding Tenfold Traffic, David oversaw marketing for companies such as Cayre Equities and He is currently the host of the Fixing Incentives Podcast, where he speaks with business leaders about the behavior that powered their growth.

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

  • David Melamed explains the initial $15,000 deal and the risks he took
  • The problems David faced with marketing attribution
  • Why he chose to spend more when his clients wanted him to stop
  • What was the one change that impacted the campaign the most?
  • How well did the campaign ultimately do?
  • David talks about his approach to marketing campaigns
  • What were some of the surprises in traffic sources?
  • Lessons he learned from his experience

In this episode…

How far would you go based on intuition alone?

Marketing is an industry run by data, but there is still plenty of risk and reward involved. With no guarantee for ROI, most investments in advertising come down to informed guesswork. Marketers then have to choose between being conservative or taking a chance. The difference between the two can mean millions of dollars. 

This hypothetical was reality for David Melamed. His business model means he greatly benefits from the victories but also takes on greater risk. As a result, the pressure has been high for David to come through for his clients. On the last episode of the Fixing Incentives podcast, he spoke about his $300,000 mistake and how he learned from it. This week, he shares the story of one of his greatest successes.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Rise25 interviews David Melamed, the Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Tenfold Traffic, to hear how he turned a $15,000 loss into a million-dollar return. They break down the story and the risks David took to make his plan work. Then, they discuss the lessons and helpful advice David took away from the experience, including how to run a successful ad campaign. Stay tuned to hear the complete story on this episode of the Fixing Incentives podcast.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Tenfold Traffic.

The only projects I take on currently are performance-based relationships.

What that means is…

All marketing would go through me on my own dime, and we negotiate a revenue share.

I don’t want someone to give me money if I don’t generate a return for them.

But, if I am making someone a ton of money, then I want to share in the revenue.

In other words, I want to participate in the full value I am creating.

Right now, I am only looking for one or two companies a year to pour my heart and soul into and to have as partners.

An ideal partner is someone who has a converting funnel and can handle scale and let me work my magic.

If you are a company that knows your lifetime value of a client and wants to spend as much as you can to acquire a customer and dominate the market, then I am your person.

If you are looking for a partner, I am your person, and if you are looking for a vendor, then there are several people I have vetted and can refer you to.

Visit to learn more or email me at david at tenfoldtraffic dot com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Fixing Incentives podcast where we talk about the incentives that drive success. Now, let’s get started with the show.

David Melamed  0:15  

Here, I’m the host of Fixing Incentives podcast where I talk with top business leaders about their journey and the behavior that powered their growth. I have Dr. Jeremy Weisz here of Rise25, who has done 1000s of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and we have flipped the script and he’ll be interviewing me.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  0:33  

David, I’m excited. And why because I told you not to tell me the story before before, because I could hear for the first time, but how losing $15,000 on a campaign led to a million dollar outcome, and why you went against what everyone was telling you and still proceeded forward and your thought process on why you did that, before we get to that this episode is brought to you by Tenfold Traffic. And I know for you, David, you’re only working on projects, and taking things on that are a performance based relationship. And this is actually a great example, this story is a great example. And I said right before we get started, I said it’s a wait, you are basically huge risk here. And you’re like, yes, what that means is performance based relationship is all marketing goes through you on your dime. And you negotiate a revenue share, because ultimately, if you make a lot of money for someone, you want to be able to share on that and not make maybe just a small monthly fee for running their ads. So you know, if they’re making a lot of money, you want to be able to share in some of it, you know, and participate in the full value. So I know for you, if there’s a company out there, like this sounds great, I can hire David, he’s gonna put all his money at risk. And I have no risk will does. But the catch is, I know you’re only looking for one or two companies per year to pour that you believe in what their company does and their offers and to pour your heart and soul into partnering with that company. So if you hear that, and you know, you are an ideal partner, basically, you have to have a converting funnel, you could handle scale, and let David work his magic. And you also know your lifetime value of a client. You can go to And or email him at David at So, David, let’s get into it. You know, before we get into how losing $15,000 in a campaign led to a million dollar outcome, I want you to lay the foundation of the relationship first. What did you go into? What was the arrangement? I guess?

David Melamed  2:37  

So the arrangement was, I would I would lay out the money for the advertising and run the campaigns. And they would we would share in the revenue generated from it. And they gave me a guarantee that I wouldn’t lose the actual ad spend as long as they didn’t lose money either. So as long as the revenue was enough to cover the ad spend, they would reimburse the ad spend at least, and then we’d be sharing in the profits. Yeah. So that was the that was the relationship, at least when we got started. And they started with a $15,000 test budget guarantee. So they were only willing to guarantee up to $15,000.

Jeremy Weisz  3:28  

Yeah, I mean with that they could dig and guarantee that but you’re still at a breakeven point, like you haven’t made any money even if, okay, this campaign made $15,000, you’ve already spent $15,000 on the ad budgets, you’re just at $0 for your time and energy.

David Melamed  3:45  

Yeah, and a lot of these campaigns are also front loaded. So I would I would really be under the gun if it if it failed.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  3:53  

Yeah, there’s a lot of time to get it up and running. But I mean, I guess it’s, you have to just choose your projects and companies wisely. Right?

David Melamed  4:01  

Yeah. Yeah. This was a case though, where it was a very I that quickly. So I didn’t have the time to set up the right. processes and tracking and foundation. I knew things were going to be a little sloppy going in.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  4:15  

Yeah, yeah. But you’re at risk for your time you’re at risk for your money at this point. So they have zero risk, really, because if it doesn’t work, like cool, David just spent all this time and money and we can walk away. I’m so talk about the first phase, I guess where I guess you’re just you lost, lost the money, essentially.

David Melamed  4:40  

So I should give a caveat, which is when the way I think about marketing, especially when you’re getting campaigns off the ground, is your initial job is not to be profitable. Your initial job is to prove or disprove your hypotheses as quickly and as cheaply as possible. So At this point in time, I didn’t know how well the landing page will convert. These were for, you know, SBA backed business loans. I didn’t know what percentage of the actual leads that we generated, but you’ll get approved by underwriting and get submitted to the SBA. I didn’t know how many of the SBA with actually approve, you know, how many will get funded, and then how many, you know, I will ultimately get paid for. And so starting to answer those questions of, you know, if I bring qualified relevant traffic to the site, what percentage of people that come to the site are gonna actually, you know, fill out the form, or start the application, and, and kind of tracking that entire flow until the point of the ads can actually bring back revenue. So, you know, while we, you know, the first thing we’re looking for is A is the website even capable of converting, right, you know, just the moment I spend even a few $100, if I don’t see a weed coming through, or at least some early indicators, that’s gonna work. In this case, I actually had the opposite situation, there was a landing page that was really just an email opt in form, and then a second page to the forum, which was the actual business loan application, which was actually on a third party website.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  6:24  

And then you do that, so you can at least capture their information in case you want to email them or, or basically remarket to them before, they have to follow this long, cumbersome form that they may bounce from.

David Melamed  6:37  

Correct. And also, it gives us another layer of tracking, to reconcile because like, sometimes seems to break on a redirect or things like that, but now we have an email address captured, so we could say, this leak came from this source. Um, and what was happening was the it was actually converting really well, on that first page.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  7:00  

So it was the first page what was included, what do they have to put first name, last name, email? 

David Melamed  7:05  

Not even that just an email address? 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  7:07  

Just email. Okay,

David Melamed  7:08  

Just email. And so you know, and you know, there is a lesson there, which is, sometimes, you know, when you ask for too little information, you don’t do a good enough job qualifying the visitors and you get a bunch of junk and maybe even bots here and there and things like that. But I am, I had this $15,000 budget, and I was going to test multiple channels. So I was going to test Google, Microsoft ads. I was going to maybe do some Facebook ads. I was going to try a TikTok campaign because TikTok had some big promotion going on where you got free ad spend,

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  7:45  

Like 15 year olds in SBA loans.

David Melamed  7:49  

Yeah, surprisingly, TikTok reaches pretty much everybody in the country nowadays, okay, or world event. But it’s also you know, one thing with advertising is as other people get smarter as to what works and what doesn’t work, it gets more competitive, and more expensive. So newer channels are usually going to be more cheaper for customer acquisition. And then I was going to run some native ads on Recontent, and Taboola and Outbrain, and a few other and Cora and a few other channels. Now, obviously, every channel takes its own expertise. And I don’t have that deep expertise in every one of these channels. But my goal at this stage was really just kind of taste the traffic, get a feeling for what can and can’t work, et cetera. Um, what was interesting is that my Google and Microsoft ads were converting really, really well on that first page, where everybody thought this was going to work really well. But then they weren’t that, you know, when you had the tracking for the actual loan applications from the bank, basically was like, none of them are turning into applications. It didn’t make any sense.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  9:01  

So basically, they fill out the email, there was a high conversion on that they get to the next page where they have to fill out the registration and was there that’s where the drop off was, where was it after they felt the registration? Being whatever the next step is approved by whatever, whatever source?

David Melamed  9:18  

So I don’t have a great answer to that question. Because I never had access to those systems. 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  9:26  

Got it.

David Melamed  9:27  

I had access to the first page system. So when those emails came through, I saw them. But what was everything else? I was relying on other people telling me, this is what happened to the leads. And —

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  9:42  

You have to have a lot of trust with these companies to work with them. Because, I mean, I’m not saying someone’s gonna make something up, but think of like, nope, none of those. None of those happened. You know?

David Melamed  9:53  

Yeah, it’s interesting because you need more than just trust in the people. You need trust in the technology to I actually think what happened here is there, they were using a plugin that grabbed tracking parameters. And it we use some sort of cookie system. And I didn’t know this till later. But there were several 100 emails sent out to people that were in the database of this company prior to what I did. And anybody that would have clicked on those emails and came to the website, with in cookie, different source, and by the time it reached the application, my for all I know, my things could have turned to applications, and it wouldn’t have been attributed to me. Hmm, now I had no way of knowing what was going on what wasn’t All I knew is that, you know, by the time we were about $15,000, of spending, I was convinced things were working well, and these partners said, shut everything down, we’re not guaranteeing another penny, this is just a complete failure. That, you know, maybe they saw like, a couple $100 worth of revenue that they could attribute to that, that first $15,000 to spend. And there’s a few things that I kind of discovered along the way.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  11:19  

So you’re seeing tons of emails going through converting, you see that? And they’re seeing from their end, okay, these people, whoever these emails are, are not converting into more than more than that. So they’re telling you to shut it down? Yeah. And so where does the conversation go from there?

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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