"We didn't establish an office until October 2004," remembers Albright of his New Jersey-based firm's beginnings. "It wasn't like we had millions in venture capital. We were involved in the adult industry long before that, however, so we had knowledge of the systems that were out there. That's when we decided to write out our own system for our own use. As we wrote it, we realized that the other solutions out there weren't that great and that the market for a better solution might exist. So we wrote our system in a way that it could be customized and not specific to us. We started to market it to other people, and it just took off."
The system they created has become the Hope Diamond of modern tracking software —Next-Generation Administration & Tracking System. So successful has this application been with online entrepreneurs that Too Much Media is about to expand again from its current 16-employee office and move into its fourth office space in the last four years.
"NATS has become one of the industry leaders, if not the industry leader," boasts Fred Schank, senior developer for Too Much Media. "We use it for tracking traffic based on country, ad tools like banners and free hosting galleries and tour tracking. All this is reported to the affiliates, so the affiliate is able to see exactly which ad tool and which country is the source of traffic making them the most money. Beyond that, affiliates have the ability to create their own customized ad tools. The program owners can set up any type of ad tool that they see fit. We want to give the affiliate as much information as possible, and I think we do that much better than anyone else."
The two online entities using the NATS system — affiliates and affiliate program owners who are administrators — provide all the proof anyone needs that the software works well.
"If the affiliates aren't happy with the software, they're not going to use those programs that run NATS," Albright says. "So when the affiliate loses, we lose, because we lose the client and the program owner loses the affiliate. That's why we take input from both the program owners and the affiliates, to make sure our software pleases both of them. We want the program operators to have the tools they need to maximize their profits and get all the reports and information they need, and we also make sure the affiliates get all the reports and data they need in order to keep sending traffic to those programs and make more money."
The Too Much Media staff ensures this by paying strict attention to the feedback they receive from their clients and by using that information to improve their product.
"NATS is a standardized package," Albright explains. "We don't make one-off solutions for each customer. We provide one package to everyone, and everyone's input goes into that package. When somebody has a suggestion or an idea, they may test it for a month or two, and if it works, we roll that into the main NATS package so everybody gets that feature. By using NATS, you're getting your ideas, our ideas and the ideas of every other customer. This makes NATS a very complete package."
The attention to client suggestions and ideas, combined with the genius of the company's developers, has climaxed in the recently released software upgrade, NATS version four. After working on its development for nearly two years, Too Much Media has come up with an astoundingly diverse and customizable tool.
"We rewrote it from the ground up," Schank says. "We took all the ideas and concepts we'd gathered through version three, and we rewrote the database structure to be more scalable, so that larger clients will be able to work on it more efficiently. We added a lot of new features that were made possible by the new database structure."
NATS has so many new features, in fact, that Albright believes most clients will use only 50 to 60 percent of the NATS V4 program. For example, the new version has a privacy feature in which browsers won't store cookies, in addition to improved IP tracking that allows clients to know which affiliate sent a surfer, based on the IP address of that surfer. And Too Much Media constantly updates NATS V4 with software additions that they send out every week.
"We pay a lot to make NATS better," Berrebbi says. "I could have written the software in 2004 with minimal features, as a lot of companies did, and just sat back and collected a lot of money. But I like developing cutting-edge software, and I know that the way we did business 20 years ago is not how we should conduct business today. To stay in business now, you must constantly improve."
In addition to constantly improving software, Too Much Media stresses customer support as an important factor in its continued growth. There are plans to eventually extend phone support to a 24-7 level from the current 10 a.m. to midnight hours. But even the present situation is flexible.
"We have emergency lines in case somebody has a need beyond those hours," Berrebbi reveals. "Those calls are answered quickly, because the emergency line comes directly to me. Then I wake somebody up. Even our senior developers are involved in support, because they can see what they implemented and how it works. This allows them to correct the problem, which is why all of our developers are part of the support system."
Too Much Media doesn't stop there. Every client who buys or leases its software receives a walk-through in which one of the firm's developers trains them on usage.
"Everybody who gets the product has two phone sessions with us, lasting a couple of hours each," Albright says. "One of our developers walks them through the system, showing them how to perform the basic tasks like adding sites, adding ad tools, setting up processors and making templates. These sessions aren't script-based. They're one-on-one teaching sessions where the developer shows how to use the software and answers any questions that arise.
"This also allows our developers to keep up with the software and with the concerns customers have. It allows them to see how it's used in the real world, as opposed to how it is when they're just developing it. Obviously this costs more, but it really enhances the quality of our clients' experience with the product and how well they'll be able to use it. In the long term, it creates a happier customer."
Another way Too Much Media keeps customers happy is by alleviating a commonly voiced concern: "What happens if you go out of business and my company is based upon your software? Am I going to have to close up?" Berrebbi listened and found a solution.
"I set up an escrow account with my lawyers, where every month we send a complete version of NATS with all the code," he explains. "If anything ever happens to us, our attorneys have the right to mail the code to all of our clients."
But based on past performance, nothing but success will be happening to Too Much Media in the foreseeable future.