The Democratization Of Sponsored Listings, With Topsort CEO And Founder Regina Ye

Regina Ye, CEO & founder, Topsort

When Topsort CEO Regina Ye was in college, she launched an ecommerce brand called Zirui to produce and sell reusable magnetic travel toiletry kits.

She kicked off a Kickstarter campaign, made 3D-printed prototypes of the product, glued the pieces together, gathered feedback on the design – it was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. The summer after graduation, she stayed up late into the night talking to manufacturers and working on getting in her first shipment.

Finally, the shipment was ready, and she started talking to wholesalers and listing her products on Shopify, Facebook and Amazon.

And that’s when she hit a wall: advertising.

As a product-driven person, she would rather have spent most of her time thinking about production, supply, product innovation, talking to customers and going over user feedback, Ye says, on this week’s episode of AdExchanger Talks.

Instead, she had to invest hours and hours – and spend much of her crowdsourced cash – trying to figure out how to make her Facebook and Amazon ads perform.

“I took two or three courses and talked to a lot of performance marketers just to understand how advertising could be more effective for us,” Ye says. “It was definitely a steep learning curve.”

That steep learning curve was part of her inspiration for Topsort, the startup Ye founded last year to help vendors, smaller retailers and marketplaces launch auction-based ads on their sites through an API.

“A brand’s primary advertising budget goes to the dominant platforms: Google, Facebook and Amazon,” Ye says. “They don’t have too much competition out there in terms of ease of use.”

Also in this episode: The rise of retail media networks, graduating high school at 16, tips on how marketers can talk to Gen Z (from an actual Gen Zer) and a few words of wisdom for young female entrepreneurs.

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