Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

Bans & Restrictions: Solving a Huge Pain Point in the Advertising Industry


Rohaan KhanRohaan Khan is the Founder and CEO of OrangeTrail Media, a brand that helps digital advertisers scale with exclusive agency ad accounts for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snapchat, Bing, Taboola, and Twitter. Rohaan is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist with deep knowledge of marketing, consumer psychology, copywriting, branding, conversion rate optimization, and media buying. With this expertise, he was able to position one of his brands for an exit, successfully selling it to a Canadian venture capital firm in 2020.

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

  • [02:19] Rohaan Khan shares his backstory of starting OrangeTrail Media
  • [03:47] Rohan talks about his exit journey
  • [06:27] Tips for turning around a business on a downward trajectory to prepare for an exit
  • [09:24] How to avoid bans and restrictions?
  • [14:49] The various types of bans and restrictions
  • [16:31] The advertising platforms OrangeTrail works with
  • [17:05] OrangeTrail customer success stories
  • [21:35] Rohaan’s advice for advertisers

In this episode…

The main pain points advertisers are facing in the industry nowadays are restrictions, bans, and disapprovals. So how can you avoid or find a solution when it happens?

Every business is prone to bans and restrictions when they advertise. It’s an ongoing challenge, and Rohaan Khan discovered there was little support available for companies in this area. After successfully exiting his business, solving this pain point became his main focus. Leveraging his strong industry contacts to form partnerships with ASPs from Meta, Google, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Bing, and Taboola, Rohaan helps advertisers avoid or mitigate bans and restrictions in a streamlined fashion.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Rohaan Khan, Founder and CEO of OrangeTrail Media, to discuss ways to avoid or remedy bans and restrictions. Rohaan shares his backstory of starting OrangeTrail, the solutions for various types of bans and restrictions, and OrangeTrail’s customer success stories.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hi folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley  0:18

Hey folks, Joe Valley here, welcome to another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. Today’s guest is Rohaan Khan. He is an entrepreneur and entrepreneur, an agency owner, lots of different things really impressive traveler 35 countries, in his young life young compared to me that is, and we talk a little bit about his exit and some of the trials and tribulations he had with his own personal exit. And then we jump on to the brand or agency that he owns now, it’s given away right there. Basically, it’s an agency that really helps advertisers avoid or deal with bans and restrictions in a much more streamlined fashion. If you’re running your own ad account with meta, you’re challenged to get the answers and responses that you need. If you’re using OrangeTrail’s accounts, which you own and control, you’re able to get responses in 24 to 48 hours from that and get some guidelines they’ve got an Amazon or Facebook Insider. During these layoffs, they managed to find somebody in compliance that now works for Ohana and OrangeTrail that really can give people guidance to make sure that their ads are proper and not getting banned and not on the manual review radar either. So very, very interesting guy. interesting business model great story about exiting his own business as well. Rohaan Khan from Here we go. Rohaan welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. How are you?

Rohaan Khan  2:07

Very well. Thanks for having me, Joe,

Joe Valley  2:09

you are an entrepreneur and exit preneur, you’ve done a lot of different things. I kind of want to jump into all of it. But before we do, why don’t you give the folks listening a little bit of background on yourself?

Rohaan Khan  2:19

Sure, happy to do that. I didn’t know exit preneur was actually a word. But I guess I’ll add that to the repertoire. So you’re gonna band it. Yeah, that’s all your word. So for everyone listening. My name is Rohaan Khan the current CEO and founder of OrangeTrail. That’s my current agency. But in the past, I’ve had multiple businesses, including e-commerce brands, one of which I actually exited to a VC about two years ago. And right now my main focus is solving one of the biggest pain points that advertisers are facing nowadays in the industry, which is restrictions bans disapprovals. And my agency has contracts and agreements with pretty much all the major advertising platforms, and they’re ESPs for whitelisted ad accounts. And we’ll talk about that later what that is how it solves this huge pain point of bans and restrictions. I’m currently only running this business. But I’m in the process of acquiring another as well, which is the fashion brand, which I like to stay busy. So I need to have multiple businesses at one time.

Joe Valley  3:24

You’re a typical entrepreneur, I can do that shiny object syndrome and taking on too much, perhaps, but you don’t have any gray on your chin like I do. So maybe that is just for me. And the early days earlier. So talk about your exit briefly. Like what were the exciting things, how long did you run the business? And what were some of the challenges?

Rohaan Khan  3:47

Yeah, good question. So when I was positioning the brand for an exit, I didn’t even know it was possible to sell a business. That was so outside of my scope of my reality, as I’m sure a lot of people out there are that they don’t realize something I have is worth of value. So the brand I started, I can’t disclose the name, but I’m happy to tell you about the products. And what kind of Niche was, it was in the sleep niche, we were selling a number of products that we’re solving pain points. Like for example, if you sleep on a pillow, it might not be the type of pillow that pillow will cause your neck pain. So we had very unique arched pillows that would you know, fit the shape of your, the contours of your body and help to solve neck pain. So it was a very good problem-solving product managed to do around 3 million in sales across 10 stores by the way, so it wasn’t just one store it was 10 stores, same theme, same products everything same for one store was English and nine were translated into different countries and languages. That brand it was on a downward trajectory until I had to revive it with new creatives and just pumping into the marketing more. And then finally, as I’d have to boost it back up. And a friend of mine actually said, you can actually sell this. It’s an asset. And I was so outside of the scope of my reality, because previously, I’d only been dropshipping. And I thought, ah, nobody wants to buy this, it’s a lemon. But I started to look into it further. And I was also in touch with the Quite Light guys and a number of brokerages. And they said, yeah, actually, Rohaan, you have something here that people will want. The level of time investment was very little, it was pretty much automated, I had a lot of assets and brand equity, and they said, this is something you can sell. So in the end, that’s how I actually managed to do an exit.

Joe Valley  5:34

Good for you, good for you. dropship businesses are sellable, by the way, we do lots of them. So anybody out there with a dropship business that is listening to that you’ve got a sellable asset as well, just about everything is a sellable asset. It’s all a matter of what the value is. And if you’re running a business that’s trending down, ideally, it’s not the best time to sell, it can be a bit more of a challenge, because buyers will sort of project the downward trend out. And wonder how long it’s going to take for the business goes to zero? What did you do to turn the business around Rohaan? And how much emotional fortitude did that take? If it’s trending down? Sometimes people just say, okay, well, whatever, it’s, I’m tired of this anyway. Did you feel that way? And did you have to sort of double down and buckle down in terms of changing the trajectory of the trends?

Rohaan Khan  6:27

So you know the exact questions to ask, because that is exactly the money question there. When your business is on a downward trajectory, you think, woe is me, everything’s going against me, how do I do this? And especially when you’re alone in the business, as like the decision maker at the top, it’s very difficult, you really have to have mental fortitude and resilience. So at that time, I figured, if the product is already a market fit, I already have a winning product. So what’s the problem? Is it the funnel? Is it the price point? Is it too out of range? So I started to diagnose multiple areas of where could the problem be? And I started to look at each stage of the funnel. So the marketing, the client customer acquisition, is my marketing up to scratch, am I appealing to the audience’s hooking them with my ads? Okay, if not, is it the price point on the website is too far out of reach? I need to do some split testing and see what price points would be reachable. And then lastly, it’s just the quality is the product actually of value to people? Is it too saturated now. So once I started to diagnose all three of these, I soon realized it was actually the price point and the marketing. So I started to invest more into the creative side of things, got a creative agency and some models that were just shooting with my in-house photographers, getting some, you know, different product shots, videos. And then one of the secret weapons I had was an incredible editor. And this editor could have X ray scenes where it can pinpoint how your neck arch is, like out of line and misalignment. And that’s the thing like, as marketers, we are supposed to push the boundaries of marketing, that’s what we do. That’s what we’re supposed to be, you’re just pushing it to the edge until it’s no longer, it’s on the edge of being accepted. So with the creatives, we were trying like different angles. At the price point, I realized I can drop the price my little bit, but increase the AOV by having cross-sells and upsells for example, a sleep mask with the pillow. So once I started diagnosing all of these, the trajectory started increased profitability increased. And I just started to reinvest everything, and rinse and repeat, rinse or repeat month to month.

Joe Valley  8:36

Good for you. Congratulations. I know it can be hard emotionally just to get invested again, when things are trending down. So congratulations on your exit. Let’s jump into what I think will be the most interesting part of this interview, which is the Hansen restrictions, it is a big problem. Especially in the Amazon space, if you’re banned or restricted, or whatever the case might be. Most people try to go through the proper channels, and reaching out to Amazon or Google or Facebook, whoever it might be to try to get it listed and find it to be very painful and frustrating. They hire attorneys that specialize in this as well. Again, financially painful, slow, you’re losing lots of money all along the way. You’ve come up with a better solution than that?

Rohaan Khan  9:24

Yeah, so the pain points that you’ve just mentioned there bands restrictions I felt as well, especially during that brand. As I mentioned, I had 10 stores which also means for each different website, I need the 10 different ad accounts. So when you log into your Facebook ad account in the morning and you see this notorious red banner and your ad account has been disabled, it’s not really the best things you want to see. And adding to that your traffic has halted because you have no ads coming in or traffic, basically or no sales. This is especially the case when people only have one traffic source. So I’m sure you’ve seen a lot have businesses coming to you and saying, Listen, I want to sell and you’re checking what traffic sources do they have. And when you see it’s like largely 80 to 90%, Facebook are heavily reliant on one traffic source, all eggs in one basket, what happens when that basket collapses? So this is why I tried to find a solution to a problem that is so prevalent. And as you said, you can try to go through the traditional channels, try reaching out to Facebook support. But good luck with that, especially with the recent layoffs, they’ve laid off 11,000 people, what do you think that’s going to do by default to the support times, of course, it’s going to be longer. So the solution we came up with, to my industry contracts, and just people I know, we came up with creating an agency where we can bridge the gap between metas authorized sales partners, and us providing whitelisted ad accounts to the larger advertising community. Now, what is the whitelist of that account, it’s pretty much a higher tier of AD account, that is pre-vetted, they have a number of benefits, like they don’t get banned as easily, they have unlimited spend limits from day one, they have a direct line of access to reps, who can give you an answer within 24 hours. And these numerous benefits are just helping advertisers run with stability, you don’t have to worry about restrictions, because we’ll handle all that stuff for you. Who controls the account? They run the ads, we provide the ad account to them. And the ad account is direct from a meta-authorized sales partner. So it’s kind of like this process…

Joe Valley  11:31

So going to be running my own ads, managing my own campaign, but I’d be using it through your ad account.

Rohaan Khan  11:38

Exactly. Exactly. So by paying the fee, you are actually owning the actual it’s your asset.

Joe Valley  11:44

The fee being to OrangeTrail.

Rohaan Khan  11:47

Exactly. And it’s very affordable. It’s just $500 per month, it’s a subscription fee, and we take 3% of ad spend. And for this price, you get unlimited ad accounts, and your headache is gone.

Joe Valley  11:58

And your headache is gone. That’s kind of the key thing. I mean, 500 bucks a month, $6,000 a year sleep better at night for that, number one. Not only that, but I mean, I’ve seen cases where people are losing 10s and 10s of 1000s of dollars, by having their account banned. In a situation once where it was a single ad 99% of the revenue was coming through Facebook ads, the guy had one product, one SKU really bad idea. And one ad that was working really well. And just he wanted something like 1.5, 1.6 million for the business. And I’m like, it’s just too risky, what you’re looking for it’s too risky buyers are going to see that and they’re not going to pay that kind of multiple it was it was a high multiple at the time. Lo and behold, 90 days afterwards, we ran into meta conference and Facebook banned that ad and said something about that particular ad and no other ads that he had tried up to that point had worked as well. In that situation, how would having this account help? He couldn’t get an answer as to why they banned the ad and that kind of stuff. There’s just an ad for dogs.

Rohaan Khan  13:20

Okay, well, so here’s the thing, even though these ad accounts are higher tier that prevented, it still can get banned. It’s not unreasonable if you’re going to run something that’s shady or risky. So my question would be like, what exactly was that guy running? Because if he’s has exaggerated claims, this magical leash will give you a dog wings. Of course, those exaggerated claims are against policy. So it really does depend on like I said, as marketers, we are pushing the boundaries. But it’s important not to cross that boundary. Because once you do, you are in the red zone with the policy guidelines. That being said, now, with the accounts that we have, you will actually get an answer and pinpoint where the problem is. He doesn’t know within 24 hours. Yeah, it will generally be within 24 hours. And by the way, when meta let employees go, I told my team go and find me a meta employee that’s been let go, who knows her shit. And we found one now Julia, she’s working for us. She’s our compliance manager. And she can pinpoint and tell you exactly where an issue is, whether that be on your landing page, or creative, whatever, and she can help you get compliant. And that’s why we have a $40 million dollar CBD brand now working with us, especially for a risky vertical like that. You do need that extra compliance.

Joe Valley  14:35

How long would it normally take? And I know that’s a tough question for somebody to get the band lifted and be able to reach through their own account, to meta and figure it out and get things back up and running.

Rohaan Khan  14:49

So to answer that question, you have to understand the different types of bans. There’s a standard false positive ban. What I mean by false positive is that you may not have done something wrong. You could have been selling a dog product, everything’s super clean, normal, but just the algorithm had a bad day. And maybe you just launched too many ads at once. And the algorithm flighted like, oh, this could be a potential risk. And you just get a false positive, these type of bans, they can come back generally in a week, maybe faster if you’re lucky. But then there’s the policy violation ban. Now, a policy violation could be something that you’ll rip someone’s creatives, we see it all the time, dropshippers, especially, they’ll take someone’s content from the internet, no repercussions until the ad account gets restricted. And you’re wondering why. And this is because that asset or that video, was already registered as proprietary content. And then on the other side, it’s also the business manager or the page or the profile gets banned. So I’m not talking about the ad account, the connected assets around that get banned. And then by process of association, your ad account gets done. So that’s why like, it’s such a complex topic where there’s multiple types of bans, your profile can get restricted, your page can get restricted, your business manager, which contains all the all the assets can get restricted. And then you’re looking at least three or four weeks, if you’re lucky. And you get it back. Because even after those four weeks to even longer, they might say this is decision final, you’re permanently restricted goodbye.

Joe Valley  16:19

And that’s going to be painful. I mean, that’s people’s business that they’re running. We talked about meta is at all simply with meta and Facebook ads, or do you work with other platforms as well?

Rohaan Khan  16:31

Yeah, so we do work with pretty much all the major advertising platforms. So we have agency ad accounts for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, even Bing, and Taboola. And to be very honest, none of them are perfect. They all have restrictions and issues where their algorithms. However, Facebook being the dominant platform, and that’s where most advertisers go, because he get the best bang for buck. They’re the ones that are getting restricted the most.

Joe Valley  16:58

Can you talk about some of the success stories where you’ve had clients, you know, get things banned, and in the past, but now you can resolve them quickly?

Rohaan Khan  17:05

Sure, of course. So, as I mentioned, we do have one $40 million CBD brand working with us now CBD, it’s all quite new, these are restricted verticals. In the eyes of these platforms, they’re still quite new, even if you have the licenses. So with this one brand, again, I can’t disclose them, because we have confidentiality agreements with clients, but the brand just could not sell their products with direct DTC ads. And for obvious reasons. So what we did was we got Julia on the case we understood, okay, what is their core product? How can they advertise without flagging the system? So what we did was we, first of all, checked out their landing page, the images, the titles, the meta descriptions. And then on the ad side, if you’re looking at a product, like this particular brand was actually selling THC clumps of weed, like literal weed in a subscription box, and we managed to get them and get them to the after. Okay. So we managed to get them compliant on landing page site, but they themselves are very creative on the creative side. And how they did that was they called it broccoli delivery. So if you can imagine, like, obviously, we know it’s not broccoli, but the double entendre, the play on words, and then the images, you know what it is, you know what you’re getting. So that was one case, another case was melatonin, again, sleep products, these melatonin, they’re quite new, we had to make sure that the landing page was super clean, exaggerated claims, you cannot say melatonin has the benefits of, you have to word it in a slightly different way where X product has benefits also. And also you need to have your address your phone number at the bottom of the page, you need to look like a legit entity, in case there is a manual review from meta, there’s a lot of steps, there’s a compliance checklist that needs to be done. Once it gets running, you’re super stable, and you don’t actually go down.

Joe Valley  18:03

And being suspended is a big pain in the butt, especially if somebody is planning to exit their business, having four months suspended during the 12 months prior to selling is going to hurt their value tremendously. Even if they get it back up and running before they choose to exit. Our advice at that point would probably be hold on another 12 months. Right? Have good solid 12 months but the risk there and the challenge there. I just actually recorded a podcast prior to this with somebody that ended up got hit by an algorithm update right after he listed his business for sale and saw a four-month period where his revenues went down by 50%. And ended up ending up holding off which was the right thing to do before selling so it can be challenging. What is there any parting Killer type of niche clients that you have more than others or does it just simply not matter in terms of the niche? Because it’s a problem across most niches?

Rohaan Khan  20:10

Yeah, again, it’s great question this is a problem across pretty much all niches we have a wide spectrum of clients, you know, that dominant clientele percentage will be from e-commerce we have around 80% client and from e-commerce there will be around 350. And then the rest will be Legion, affiliate marketers digital info, we have some dating coaches as well that are selling dating courses. So again, like it’s a wide spectrum, but they always have the same issues. And even if you have the cleanest brand out there super clean, you’re still prone to having restrictions.

Joe Valley  20:48

Yeah, the more I record podcasts like this Rohaan and the more I talk to people that have sold their businesses or bought businesses, operating businesses, the more risk averse I become, at one point, I was at a conference where somebody was on stage talking about importing from China and the thickness of the corrugated box, my eye, my eyes roll to the back of my head, and I thought I never want to import from China, or anywhere, really, I don’t want to have to think about the thickness of the corrugated box and the weight and the cost associated with it too much detail. But more and more there’s risks of being suspended or banned, or things knocked off things of this nature, without being able to protect yourself. So I think what you’re doing here is pretty awesome.

Rohaan Khan  21:35

Yeah, and just to add to that, your contractor, whoever you’re speaking with mentioned that they were importing from China. So what happens when you’ve bought stock in bulk, and it’s sitting in the factory and you can’t sell it because you cannot push your advertising? So the answer here, simply put is okay, if you don’t use the agency, Atkins fair enough, at least diversify your traffic sources, if you’re heavily reliant on one single source of traffic, and then that traffic platform bans you you’re just at the mercy of that. You’re waiting for the ban to be lifted. So the way to do this is obviously test whatever product you have on multiple traffic sources, like Twitter is doing really well. Now, since Elon took off the conversion optimization of the campaigns and Twitter ads has been unlocked. Previously, you actually had to reach a certain amount of conversions and spend before they would unlock that for you. Now it’s not, you can just run conversion ads from the start, you don’t have to spend on traffic or other campaigns. So that’s one. TikTok, obviously, we’ve seen all the success stories, some people scaling up to like multiple millions in a month and TikTok from scratch. Although I will say for TikTok, if your AOV is pretty high, you’re kind of priced out of the general audience of TikTok, I would say what we’ve seen across our clientele is the average order value for TikTok is around between 50 to 80. And anything above that it’s a bit harder to sell to TikTok. But then you also have snap and of course, Google, Bing as well. So what I would say is, if anyone out there is overly reliant on one single traffic source, you need to take the time to invest in the others. If you don’t know the ads for the others hire a media buyer. But you need to diversify, because that is how you increase your multiple. And Joe, I’m sure you notice as well like what kind of factors helped to increase the multiple of a business.

Joe Valley  23:27

Yeah, risk is the number one, the more you diversify, the less risk, the less risk, the higher the value? There’s no question about it. And you’re spot on all of it. So as far as diversifying and running the ads in different platforms, is this something that your firm does as well, or you’re just allowing people to use your ad accounts?

Rohaan Khan  23:49

Yeah. So again, we don’t do the ads for people. And there’s a strategic reason for that. What we do is we just provide you the ad accounts, let you go ahead and do it. We provide maintenance. So we have account managers. By the way, in the last year and a half, we’ve managed to hire 26 full-time employees. So we have account managers in almost every time zone, we provide 24, five support. And we just provide you the ad accounts, we’ll do the maintenance, the top-ups, if you need to remove or add someone will do that give you balance updates. That’s all the things we do. And the reason we don’t do the ads is because if you think about it, it’s such a labor-intensive process where we have to get media buyers inside we have to strategize, create, run the ads is a lot of testing, diagnosing going on. Whereas the agency and accounts that we’re providing, we set them up like that provided to you boom, there you go.

Joe Valley  24:40

I think it’s great. I find probably eight out of 10 times when somebody hires an agency to do their ads for them, it doesn’t work and they step back and do it themselves. Owners are passionate and knowledgeable about their product lines, and often want to just continue to do it themselves. And what you’re offering here is an art And that’s gonna help them sleep better at night and reduce the risk of being banned and or staying banned for a longer period of time. So thanks. Great. That’s fantastic. That’s how people find you and reach out.

Rohaan Khan  25:15

Yeah, absolutely. So, you can book a call, just a disclaimer, we cannot work with everyone. You need to have a clean white hat or maximum-grade business. We don’t work with shady advertisers. And you should be spending around at least five to 10,000 per month on ads. But yeah, you can book a call with our team, see if you’re eligible, and we’d be happy to provide you an ad account.

Joe Valley  25:36

That’s great, man. It’s folks, Rohaan, thanks for coming on the podcast greatly appreciate it.

Rohaan Khan  25:43

Cheers. Yo. Thanks for having me.

Outro  25:46

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at [email protected]. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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