David Abrams: Gaming Influencer
Want to know how influence can help connect brands with gaming fans? You’re in for a treat: our latest Art of Sway episode is all about grassroots gaming outreach with our expert gaming influencer friend from Cheap Ass Gamer, David Abrams.
David Abrams (aka CheapyD) is the owner and founder of Cheap Ass Gamer, a wildly popular website that established his cult status in the gaming world back in 2003. David is credited with having the first popular unboxing video on YouTube (!), and has gone on to run a popular podcast (the CAGcast) and participate in a number of gaming charities.
In this episode, learn about David’s experience using influence to connect with unique, diverse gaming communities, including:
- Why offering curated bargains and deals remains a winning strategy
- The long-running power of affiliate marketing
- How word-of-mouth authenticity (and personal recommendations) outperforms traditional advertising
- The massive Hollywood budgets behind today’s games (and the associated marketing opportunities)
Episode 16: David Abrams Transcript
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week, through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: David Abrams founded Cheap Ass Gamer in 2003, a website focused on providing its users with the latest information on video game sales and deals. Through affiliate marketing on social media platforms and the CAG website, CAG annually refers millions of dollars to retailer partners such as Amazon and Best Buy. David is also a podcast host and producer, having created over 740 episodes of his award-winning CAGcast Podcast since 2005. As one of the early YouTubers, David is credited with having the first popular unboxing video on YouTube, and was featured in an exhibit in the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. David lives in Long Island, New York with his wife and son, where he enjoys table tennis, bedroom deejaying and playing the occasional video game.
Danielle Wiley: I have known David Abrams since nursery school. We grew up on the same street and have lots of just fun and wacky Long Island memories together. The crazy thing, he probably wouldn’t describe himself in this way, but David has been a gaming influencer since the mid 2000s. It was really fun. It’s just always fun catching up with him, but I had never heard his full journey and it’s kind of a fascinating one. So I hope you all enjoy this. Well, hi.
David Abrams: Hi.
Danielle Wiley: This is fun because I usually start this by asking about your journey and I feel like I know the first half of your journey because I lived two doors down.
David Abrams: Was that a journey really?
Danielle Wiley: Was it? I feel like it’s been a long journey to where we are now, from growing up on Long Island, is an interesting-
David Abrams: I’m back now.
Danielle Wiley: You’re back. You’re back. So my experience of your journey, we all got our first computers in elementary, I think I got mine from my bat mitzvah, you had one before I did.
David Abrams: Yes, my dad was a very early adopter of technology, so as soon as something came out that could be purchased by a regular person and it was semi affordable, he would thoroughly investigate it, find out what the best one was. He’s had a subscription to Consumer Reports for 30 years or something like that. So yeah, as soon as the first IBM… He didn’t want to pay for the real IBM PCs because those were too expensive, but as soon as those clones came out that were coming out of Asia and they were more affordable, he got those.
Danielle Wiley: My first computer was a Kaypro.
David Abrams: Kaypro?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Which we got from my other neighbor, from Steve Schwartz, sold it to my parents. I’m remembering it as K-A-Y pro, for sure from Asia.
David Abrams: Right.
Danielle Wiley: It was large.
David Abrams: Sounds budget.
Danielle Wiley: But I remember you coming over because I was like, “I don’t know what to do with this giant thing that’s sitting-”
David Abrams: Right, right. I’m sort of remembering now. Yes, yes.
Danielle Wiley: Yes. And then you brought… We’ve talked about this, you brought me the floppy disc with Executive Suite on it, which was the best game. I loved that game.
David Abrams: Right, that’s right.
Danielle Wiley: I’ve lived that game. You had to start from the mail room and make your way up to CEO. That was the whole point of the game and it was all commands.
David Abrams: Yeah. This is when computer games were green and black.
Danielle Wiley: Yes. You always knew so much more about computers and I remember you being on… I guess they didn’t call them message boards, like bulletin boards?
David Abrams: BBSs, yes.
Danielle Wiley: BBS, yeah, yeah.
David Abrams: I was an only child, and both my parents worked, so I would come home from school and I would go to the computer. I would sit there and back then, you sort of had to make your own entertainment. Of course, there were some games that you could buy at the store, but there weren’t that many, like now there’s thousands to choose from. And certainly my parents weren’t buying me games. You could discover the early version of the internet, which was having a modem and dialing phone numbers into computers that people had in their homes basically, that were running message boards out of their house.
David Abrams: And I got into that, “Culture,” culture in quotes, because the culture really was… It was like an internet that people didn’t know existed really. Only the biggest nerds knew about it because it wasn’t-
Danielle Wiley: Or the neighbors of the biggest nerds.
David Abrams: Or the neighbors, people who would tell them about, “Oh my God,” because you would find out, there was knowledge there to be learned. There were illegal games that were copied and that you could download, for those whose parents weren’t going to be buying them those games anyway. There was the early version of pornography, which was printed out symbols. Do you remember that?
Danielle Wiley: No.
David Abrams: People would print out… You remember those dot matrix printers that everybody had that were so noisy?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah.
David Abrams: And they would just print… People would design nude pictures out of ASCII symbols.
Danielle Wiley: Oh my God.
David Abrams: Just out of letters and numbers and symbols.
Danielle Wiley: So it would make an actual… I was picturing a little eggplant, but they would make an actual picture.
David Abrams: That would span across several pages of your printer because remember back in those days, the pages were all connected and you’d have to separate them. So you would print out a centerfold or something. It would be five pages. It was ridiculous. It was just like zeros and exclamation points put together. And if you cover your eye and you put it far enough away, maybe it looks like something.
Danielle Wiley: If you’re 12, it’s probably all.
David Abrams: It was very exciting.
Danielle Wiley: More exciting than anything else happening.
David Abrams: And it would take… Of course, everything took forever to happen, to download anything or to connect or anything just took forever. And then one day, I remember I was getting addicted to the… There was a service called CompuServe, and they had online games that they were actually the earliest version of multiplayer games. And I remember, and they would charge you. You had a certain number of the free minutes, but if you go over the free minutes, you get a bill. And I remember one day my dad comes home from work and I hear him downstairs open the door and he starts going through the mail. And I knew there was a bill from CompuServe there, and I knew I was in big trouble.
David Abrams: And I just hear, “David,” from downstairs, and that was the end of CompuServe. It was like a $200 bill in 1986 or something. It wasn’t good.
Danielle Wiley: It’s wild how long that was going on for. I was just reminiscing with my husband that one of my first jobs was at the Food Network and we didn’t have internet. And I brought in a phone cord and I plugged my computer into the phone jack at work, and I would spend all day on AOL chatting with his friend Blake, who was the only one I knew who was on AOL. And I got in trouble at work-
David Abrams: Right, sure.
Danielle Wiley: For the phone bill.
David Abrams: Sure.
Danielle Wiley: And this was 1995. It took a long time for that-
David Abrams: To kick in. And now they know exactly what you’re looking at, what part of your screen you’re looking at, and you don’t get away with anything.
Danielle Wiley: No, not at all.
David Abrams: But all that early stuff got me into gaming obviously, because I had access to games that I didn’t have to buy. Back then, they were called cracked versions. They were these pirate groups and they would basically remove the copy protection from the games and then you could-
Danielle Wiley: Like an unlocked phone, kind of.
David Abrams: Like an unlocked phone. So you’re downloading them. And of course, it was so slow because it was over your phone connection. And it would take hours and hours, a whole day to download something. And of course, it was just a phone call. So phone calls get disconnected all the time. Someone, maybe your mom picks up the phone while you’re doing it and she doesn’t know and that’s it. You could have been doing it for 14 hours, you had five minutes left, and it’s done. It’s over. You have to start over.
David Abrams: So I got into all those types of games, of course. And as games got more advanced, my dad would pick up the new consoles too even. So he certainly… While he wasn’t very interested in playing the games himself, he definitely… It was fine. He was bringing the systems into the house. He would buy me games, and I guess he knew I was a latchkey kid, so they were trying to keep me entertained.
Danielle Wiley: Mean. I know your dad and he’s a smart guy. He must have also sensed this was… I don’t know if he knew this was the wave of the future, but that something was changing with communication, or do you think he purely saw it as, “This is entertainment for this kid who’s really bored and I feel bad that he’s bored?”
David Abrams: It’s probably a little of that. I think he was generally interested in the technology and still is, but not to the point where he needs to be involved with it personally. It’s more like, “Oh, I brought it into the house. I see someone’s getting use out of it.” And to your point, “Maybe this is something that could mean something in the future, but also, it’s going to keep him busy while I’m listening to opera. He wants to do his own thing after coming home.”
David Abrams: And he wasn’t playing the games with me. I tried to get him to play but… So that basically got me addicted to video games. And even through college, video games were very popular in college, and we played a lot then.
Danielle Wiley: I don’t even know if I know what you majored in?
David Abrams: History, American History.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
David Abrams: I went to University of Rochester. I didn’t think it really mattered what I majored in. I knew that I would get a lot of writing work done doing a history major. And I like writing and I liked history. So I did that.
Danielle Wiley: You’re the second history major in this season so far that I’ve interviewed. I interviewed the owner of Zingerman’s Deli and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, which is a big business here, and he majored in Russian history.
David Abrams: Learning how to write well, or at least the basics of it is important for probably most jobs. So it seems like a good path. So I’ve always been interested in video games since the first arcade games. And when I got out of college and like you were saying, when you get your first job and the internet was starting to appear, I started wasting time at work like most people, and one of the things that I was wasting time on were these bargain sites, which were basically just every day they would just list anything that was a ridiculous deal anywhere.
David Abrams: So there’s a fax machine at Home Depot, and you can get it for $5 after you mail in the rebate, or there’s a blender at Bed Bath and Beyond, and it’s free after the rebate or something. And I got really into looking at that because once in a while, they would have a video game deal that popped up, and it was something just as ridiculous like that, it was a game for $5 or something. And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even know that they had these types of clearance deals.”
David Abrams: And then I thought after… The site was called Ben’s Bargains, by the way. I’m not even sure if it’s still there. I was like, “I wish there was just a site like this for video games,” because the video game deals only come up once a day, maybe once every two days, and there’s probably more deals. So I started looking, I started just looking to see if there were deals, and sure enough, I would go to ebgames.com, which is now gone, and I would just sort the prices by lowest price and say like, “Oh yeah, there are deals.” And then I thought it would be great if there was a site just for video game deals, and I just basically Googled my way to making a website. So I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff.
David Abrams: Like anything today, you can YouTube or Google your way through it, really with just basic knowledge, basic technical knowledge. So that’s what I did. I got a movable type, which is a blog software, which was very cheap, and I got some free forum software. And I basically just… The front page was the movable type blog. And then the community was this forum. It really didn’t connect much, but that was it. And then, like I said, I would just scroll through the retailers, and find out what was a deal and what wasn’t? And just share them.
Danielle Wiley: And you were doing this while at your day job?
David Abrams: I was doing this while at my day job, correct.
Danielle Wiley: No judgment, I once wrote an entire business plan while at my day job.
David Abrams: Look, I didn’t have any complaints about my work, my workflow. Most of the work was done after I got home from the day job. So because you couldn’t… Obviously people walking by your desk, it’s not a great work environment. And also, I’m working for somebody else and getting paid. So I would come home from that job and I would really spend all afternoon, and sometimes stuff would break, and I would be up at 3:00 in the morning, Googling how to fix things that I don’t know anything about, and then go to work the next day. And then if something big comes up, certainly I would be posting it at work.
David Abrams: But it would be like today, running a social media account while at your job, while at a complete separate job, which is pretty doable because you’re just doing things in short bursts. And I was just basically posting, “Hey, this game is $10 off at Amazon and here’s a link.” I didn’t have to write a whole thesis about the game.
Danielle Wiley: Were you putting in affiliate? Because I did affiliate links back in the early, early 2000s, and it was a pain in the ass but you could do it.
David Abrams: Right. So I learned from Ben’s Bargains about affiliate marketing and how he was making money. And for people who don’t know, affiliate marketing is basically a retail… And almost every retailer has a program where they’ll provide, I guess, influencers now, or websites with links that when people click and buy something, they will pay you a commission. And it seemed great because I actually… I was so into video games that I thought about opening up an online store, just a video game store, straight up selling games. And I did the research and I looked at what the margins were, and they were so bad because video games are really designed to get a customer into a big box retailer and then buy something else. Okay, you’re going to spend $60 on this game, which the retailer’s maybe making $10 on, if that, they’re not probably, but maybe you’ll buy a refrigerator or something else.
David Abrams: So I looked at that and I was like, “This is not probably a good business to get into.” And then I was like, “Well, but I could make eight-and-a-half percent just buy somebody clicking on a link and buying the game, and I don’t have to store any games or ship any games or take risk-”
Danielle Wiley: Pay rent.
David Abrams: “Or pay rent or do any of this stuff.” I’m like, “Let me try this. It’s cheap to lease a server.” So I basically put that all together. I remember I was living in Manhattan in my walk-up apartment, and I remember coming to my mailbox downstairs one day and there was a check from EB Games in there for $6,000.
Danielle Wiley: Oh my God.
David Abrams: And this was like 2003 or 2004, and I wasn’t making that much at my regular job. And I was like… I stared at the check because I just couldn’t believe it, and it was relatively easy money. I was putting in the time, certainly, but it’s not like I was shingling a roof or anything like that. It was just finding video game deals and posting them and keeping a community happy, which was probably the most challenging part.
Danielle Wiley: How did you let people know about this? Because this is pre…
David Abrams: So that was tricky because-
Danielle Wiley: There wasn’t Twitter.
David Abrams: Right.
Danielle Wiley: There were blogs. I’m trying to think how I… Okay, messages.
David Abrams: There was nothing really.
Danielle Wiley: So it was commenting and-
David Abrams: There were other message boards.
Danielle Wiley: Being part of the community.
David Abrams: Yes. So there was a huge message board. It’s still there, called Game Facts, FAQS. And it was purchased by a big company long ago, but back in the day, it was an independently owned site and it was very bare bones like every site. And you could talk about any game you want, every game had its own message board. So what I did, I had already a fairly active account there. So what I did is in my signature, I would post, “Hey, check out the hottest video game deals at Cheap Ass Gamer,” which is the name of the company that I came up with. And sure, because I thought it would stand out. If someone sees ass, they’re like, “Whoa, ass, what’s that about?”
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, must be good.
David Abrams: Must be good. And sure enough, it actually worked. I wasn’t obnoxious about it. I wasn’t just spamming because they’ll ban you. No one’s going to put up with that. I didn’t even really post about the site. I would post about other things, but I would have the stuff in the signature. And eventually, some people would come over and they told other people. And yeah, I never did advertising, conventional advertising. I didn’t have any money to do that. This was the way to do it. I got lucky in that it was the dawn of the internet and there just weren’t that many destinations that were great.
David Abrams: And so people checked it out and it was useful. Every gamer needed to buy games. It was just, if you’re a gamer, you’re not getting the games for free. You have to buy them. There’s no going to the BBSs anymore and downloading the cracked versions. Okay, that’s not a 100% true, but for the most part, people are not doing that. It’s a lot more complicated.
David Abrams: So this was something that any gamer could identify with, needing to acquire games in a cheap manner because games are expensive. So yeah, I did that and I found success really quickly, which was surprising. And I was working at this regular job. I was working for a non-profit. Actually, it was the non-profit that my father worked for, for a long time. He was retired already by the time I got there. Soon after that, my wife, who’s Japanese, she got a job offer to work in Tokyo. And it’s a nice deal where they help you find an apartment. They don’t pay your rent or anything because she’s Japanese, but they make things a lot easier for you. It’s a great opportunity for me to quit my real job, work on Cheap Ass Gamer full-time because I could do it from anywhere. And also, Japan is the home of video games.
David Abrams: So it seemed like a good fit for me and it was, it was really good. And the time difference was interesting because I could… Some things were advantageous. It’s very annoying to work in Japan and have to deal with the East Coast because people are… You’re going to bed and people are waking up and you can miss people for days. If you miss one connection, the time difference works against you. For posting video game deals specifically, it was great because most of the retailers update their catalogs in the middle of the night in terms of the price changes. It’s like 3:00 AM or something like that. For me, that was now the afternoon and I could look at that stuff and get the stuff out in a timely manner and be on top of everything.
Danielle Wiley: And everyone’s waking up to the deal.
David Abrams: Yes, and it was perfect. It was really great. And even on things like on Black Friday where there’s so many deals and it was just so helpful. And back then when the commission rates were so high, because Amazon was basically… Amazon was just trying to swallow everything. So they were paying these ridiculously high commission rates, which was also forcing other companies probably to lift theirs more than they wanted to, because otherwise they wouldn’t be competitive. Everybody was buying everything from Amazon anyway, so it was a real success for me in that I was making so much money from these affiliate earnings because the commissions were unsustainably high.
David Abrams: They couldn’t have been making that much money on the games that they were selling after paying the commissions and all their other expenses. They were losing money and I know they were, because Amazon would tell me.
Danielle Wiley: Well, when you get commission, I know from how affiliate works, if someone clicks the link from you for the game, but then they also buy a refrigerator, you’re getting that commission.
David Abrams: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: It’s just where they enter from.
David Abrams: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: It’s not specific to the product that you’re posting.
David Abrams: Correct. Correct. So a store like Amazon, which sells everything. And also sometimes these links, it’s not just what they buy right after they click through. There’s cookies and they can last for days or weeks depending on… Back then it was very generous. Now it’s-
Danielle Wiley: Less so.
David Abrams: Not, but it’s okay. I had a good run. So it was great. And so the Japan thing really worked out. And then because YouTube was coming on right around then, I could post these videos from Japan that people thought were… They were exotic. They were literally exotic because everybody didn’t have a camera phone, a video recorder in their pocket back then. I did, because I lived in Japan and they were more advanced in the phones and you could buy handheld cameras on the cheap that were really great, and I started making YouTube content. And the YouTube content really helped a lot because we had all these gaming blogs out there that were posting… This was before influencers, so it was the age of bloggers and there were all these gaming blogs that popped up that were challenging the established gaming media. And they needed content because that was their thing, right? Blogs, they just post all day. It was just whatever. Just put it up there.
David Abrams: And here was a guy in Japan who was making videos about gaming in Japan, stuff that they couldn’t get access to. And I would just put it up on my YouTube channel and they would cover it. They would just take my video and embed it in a post. It was great for the bloggers because it was an easy post for them. They would write two sentences and embed a YouTube video. And it was great for me because of the end of every video, I would plug Cheap Ass Gamer. I would have words come up, “Check it out.” It was the best free advertising.
David Abrams: So I would just go buy consoles that would come out, special edition consoles that wouldn’t… Anything that wouldn’t come out in America that I thought a blogger would be interested in that would link to, I would just make a video of it because it was the cheapest advertise, spent $300 on a console and get 300,000 views on YouTube because all these sites just posted about it. I had spent five minutes making a video. It was…
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. And then you were making ad revenue from YouTube and… Or it was just for the promoting of-
David Abrams: It was before you can monetize YouTube.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
David Abrams: I don’t know how I feel about that, because on one hand, if I could have monetized those videos, I would be a YouTuber now probably.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, you’d be like Mr. Beast.
David Abrams: It’s weird because while I was living there and the videos would get posted, they would get couple 100,000 views. And this was back in the day when that was a lot. I would have people come up to me in Japan and recognize me from YouTube, Americans who would come visit Japan and they would run into me in the subway or something and they’d be like, “I see your videos on YouTube.” And I was like, “This is very weird.”
David Abrams: And I remember one time I was walking my son home from school and he had to go to the bathroom really badly. We were hauling butt home and we got stopped by some guy who saw some McDonald’s video I made or something like that. And he’s just talking, telling me, I’m like, “My kid’s got to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry. We got to go. We got to go.” And it was a whole emergency, but it worked out okay. But it got me thinking like, “Sure, it’s nice to be recognized and certainly once or a month or something like that is not going to affect anybody’s life too negatively. But what if this happens every time you go out?” I’m sure Mr. Beast can’t go anywhere.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, we were at a Michigan football game and there was… I don’t know who it was. There was a gaming YouTuber in our section. My son Max was… He was like, “Oh my God, mom, he’s a big YouTuber,” and all these people were taking photos. He was just there watching a football game.
David Abrams: And I’m sure he loved that the first five times that that happened, but now when he’s just trying to watch the game or something and just relax, it’s probably not that great. I’m sure he would like to at least have the option of having some privacy. I don’t know how I feel about missing out on that YouTube because I’m sure I would’ve went for it if I thought I was young then and I probably would’ve went for it, but now I’m sort of glad that that didn’t happen. I like to just walk around and even now, a lot of bald white guys look the same.
David Abrams: I get people coming up to me now. Just last week, some young African American guy, very hip looking guy, he’s like, “I’m sorry sir, I don’t mean to bother you, but you look very familiar to me. Have I seen you somewhere?” And it’s so awkward, right? “Well, I do have some YouTube videos with 800,000 views with me opening up a PlayStation.”
Danielle Wiley: Yes, “Let me list all the way.”
David Abrams: Well, unless you’re a big video game nerd, you probably don’t know who I am. That’s what I say now. And then I say a line about all bald white guys looking the same, which is fair. It’s true, because I’ll be at a restaurant and I’ll see a bald white guy and I’m like, “Yeah, he does look kind of like me.”
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I’m married to a bald white guy and you guys look very different but…
David Abrams: Right. He does. That’s true. The YouTube stuff, it was cool and it was a very fun, and it was great promotion for Cheap Ass Gamer, but I wasn’t making any money. It was pre-influencer. I wasn’t making any money on it directly but it was turning me into sort of an early gaming influencer.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
David Abrams: Because gaming is a huge business and these big games cost as much as a big movie to put out, and the marketing budgets on these games are just like movies. They’re 50% of what it cost to make the game. So these days, a big part of the marketing budget is going into gaming influencers, which as your son pointed out, is our streamers. They’re Twitch streamers basically for the most part. But back before Twitch, it was basically people like me who were making memes on Twitter, gaming memes. They were making videos that would get picked up places.
David Abrams: I remember there’s a big gaming expo every year called E3. I’ve gone every year except when there’s a pandemic because they didn’t have it. And I remember, you had to have appointments for everything. And I remember one… And we were seeing this game BioShock, which is a huge game, for the first time. And they’re calling people into the room, and not everybody’s going to get in. It’s clear, not everybody’s going to get in. And they call Cheap Ass Gamer and people start laughing, right? Because they don’t really know what’s happening. They say, “They announced Cheap Ass Gamer.” People started laughing because it’s funny. They were announcing that we were getting into this meeting to see this hot game that not everybody was going to get into.
David Abrams: So I remember feeling really good because they were laughing at us and then they realized that we were getting in and they maybe were not getting in. I felt really good about that, but that was the early gaming influencers were really just bloggers, people writing, and basically people like me who were making early YouTube videos. It was hard back then to not develop a little ego because people are inviting you to things. And certainly, I was very low, low, low. But I remember, there’s always something that’ll put in perspective.
David Abrams: And I remember going to E3 one year, and this was the year… They’re always trying to figure out what to do with the show. “Is it supposed to be if everybody comes or just… How exclusive do we want to make it?” And one year they decided to make it really exclusive, where you couldn’t even apply to come. It was like, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Danielle Wiley: Oh, wow. And they’ll let you know if you’re invited, basically. And somehow I got invited and they had it in Santa Monica. It was really nice. And I remember going to Electronic Arts event and I got there and I checked in and they were so nice to me. It was so nice and I was so happy because it was such a nice hotel. It was such a nice setup. And they were like, “Okay, we’re just waiting for somebody else who’s going to be in your group and then we’re going to start the experience of showing you all these new games that are coming out.” And I was so excited.
Danielle Wiley: And then there was one other guy in my group and he showed up. I noticed right away that they were fawning all over the guy. The guy was from USA Today. And as soon as he showed up, I got the stiff arm. I was the guy trying to peek my head over everyone’s shoulders as they were showing the game because they just completely forgot about me and it put everything into perspective. I was like, “I’m just some guy running some crappy website. Here’s a guy from USA Today.” And I get it. I wasn’t even mad because I realized, “Of course, I’m nothing.”
Danielle Wiley: I think it’s hard, it’s probably hard to have that attitude if you are in the influencer world today, because they’re just on another level where the influencer… some influencers now are more important than USA Today.
David Abrams: Oh yeah.
Danielle Wiley: I couldn’t even be offended by it when it was happening to me because yeah, of course, USA Today, but now it’s a whole different world.
Danielle Wiley: So is your audience now, is it an older audience? Are there younger… I know my son has gone to you for gaming advice, but that’s just because he has an in.
David Abrams: Sure.
Danielle Wiley: But do younger people know about you? Or is the gaming influence and recommendation world more… Is it kind of siloed by generation?
David Abrams: So I started this podcast right before I moved to Japan. So I know that a lot of my listeners are old like me because I get messages from people who are like, “Hey, I started listening to you in junior high and I have kids now.” It’s horrible like that, something really depressing.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
David Abrams: So I know, I’m almost positive that we have no young listeners coming into the podcast. I see the numbers, the numbers aren’t going up on the podcast, but in terms of Cheap Ass Gamer, we do a lot on Twitter because we find that’s a great deal delivery platform. All you need is a link, a picture, and a couple lines of texts and that’s it. And it’s timely and people get notified. So it’s great for that.
David Abrams: And so I’m sure we’re picking up, we have a younger audience there, but I know that Twitter is not even really the thing that the kids are using these days.
Danielle Wiley: Well, and is it-
David Abrams: You would know better than me.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah. No, they’re not. Well, my kids stalk me and comment on my tweets like, “That was stupid.”
David Abrams: That’s wrong.
Danielle Wiley: They literally get notifications when I tweet, and then tell me I’m a stalker when I’m trying to find stuff out about whoever they’re dating or-
David Abrams: About them. Sure, sure. That’s your job though. You’re supposed to do that.
Danielle Wiley: So do you think Twitter’s going to go away?
David Abrams: Oh, the whole Twitter thing is really bothersome on so many levels. I rely upon it a lot for my income.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, that’s why I was talking to someone last week about the fact that I’m seeing a lot of posts like, “I got rid of it. It was about time. He’s an awful human. I’m not supporting this anymore,” and I get it. But that also comes from a… That really comes from a place of privilege to be able to say, “I’m just going to get rid of this platform because it’s a source of networking and income and it’s vital. It’s been around for a long time.”
David Abrams: Yes. Certainly, we’re going to keep rocking video game deals as long as we can because it’s working out great. I know that it’s useful for people. I know it’s a good deal delivery system. We have sponsors who sponsor our posts and so I know it’s working for them, but I am worried about the same things that everybody else are worried about but there’s not much I can do about that.
David Abrams: Certainly, on my personal accounts, I’ve found myself posting a lot less because I do feel bad about supplying content. Not that my content is so great, but I do feel bad about giving that guy content. Did I ever tell you, I was Elon’s brother’s real estate broker?
Danielle Wiley: What? I didn’t even know you were a real estate-
David Abrams: I was a real estate broker, commercial real estate broker for a year-and-a-half. I was in the video conferencing business for a while and the company decided to shut down their office when they got sued because there was another company that had their same name.
Danielle Wiley: So this is in the 90s?
David Abrams: This is in like 2000, late 90s, 2000.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
David Abrams: That’s a bad job. That’s a really bad job unless your dad owns office buildings, then it’s a great job. So Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal came and he’s actually very nice. And for a guy who was a 20-year-old who was worth like $50 million already because he had just sold a company with Elon and he was looking for office space to start, he was ahead of his time. He was starting basically a reality television show on the internet in 2000, and let’s see when that was exactly. It was probably like 2000 or 1999 or something like that.
Danielle Wiley: Wow.
David Abrams: And when video on the internet was the size of a postage stamp because there was no compression, that was how compression worked. So he started this thing called Funky Talk and it just died instantly because it was way ahead of its time.
Danielle Wiley: I’m trying to remember what it was. There’s a company, I listened to a How I Built This a couple of years ago and there’s a very successful company that started as an internet reality. Was it Twitch?
David Abrams: Yes, it was Twitch. Twitch was Justin.tv, which was a little different-
Danielle Wiley: Yes, yes, yes.
David Abrams: Because I think the thing was called Funky Talk and I think it was just basically cameras in an office and I don’t even know what they were doing, but Justin.tv was basically just, you take video cameras and in a backpack because you needed live streaming technology and we’re just walking down the street and, “Let’s just show everybody what we’re looking at.
Danielle Wiley: That’s still interesting. I remember you showing… We hired you to teach us all about Twitch a couple of years ago at Sway Group and everyone’s favorite was the bike messenger in New York who was just live streaming. Somehow, it is kind of interesting to watch someone live their-
David Abrams: Right. Mikey.
Danielle Wiley: Life.
David Abrams: Yes. It didn’t look like that back in the Justin.tv days because the technology wasn’t back in.
Danielle Wiley: No.
David Abrams: But now it’s crazy. You can live stream 1080p in almost any country with a small little backpack.
Danielle Wiley: Okay. So we ask everyone at the end of their episode to tell us what TV commercial from your childhood has stuck with you to this day?
David Abrams: So I listened to the episode, you had a gentleman on who worked for a candy company.
Danielle Wiley: Yes.
David Abrams: And he brought up Nobody Beats The Wiz, which is great. Nobody beats the Wiz. Right? Everybody loves Nobody Beats The Wiz, but I feel like Nobody Beats The Wiz was really an answer to Crazy Eddie. Right? Wasn’t Crazy Eddy first?
Danielle Wiley: I think so. And it’s funny, I sent that episode to someone, one of the topics we talked about I thought would be of interest to him. He was like, “Oh my God, I didn’t know you were from Long Island and I love Hess trucks too,” and yeah, appreciate Nobody Beats the Whiz, but Crazy Eddie all day long.
David Abrams: He was just like a guy yelling at a camera for 30 seconds with him in the frame, basically just him in the frame with his hands moving a lot, saying that the prices are insane. And not only was the commercial crazy, but that whole store was the trip. Do you remember that store?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I put it in the same category as PC Richards.
David Abrams: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: Just chaotic crap everywhere, just a mess.
David Abrams: Well, they encouraged you at Crazy Eddie to haggle with the salespeople, where you could say, “No, I don’t want to pay $400 for the camera. I’ll give you $380.” And I know that our friend’s father figured out the code to figure out what the lowest price was that they would accept the price ticket [inaudible].
Danielle Wiley: Wait, one of our-
David Abrams: Yeah. Alan Bender figured it out.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
David Abrams: Or he had the hookup. Someone told him, but there was a code on each price tag, and if you took the number between the two nines and divided it in half, that was the lowest price that they would accept on that. So if you knew that going in, you could get that price every time.
Danielle Wiley: This is like my nightmare. Having to haggle is my nightmare.
David Abrams: I think they went out of business really soon after that came out.
Danielle Wiley: After Alan Bender took them down.
David Abrams: It was Alan. I think Alan brought him down, not the tax fraud.
Danielle Wiley: Oh my gosh. Too funny.
David Abrams: Yes. Crazy Eddie is the best.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I think we got to bring him back. I don’t think he’s around, but this was awesome. Thank you.
David Abrams: It was fun. Thank you.
Danielle Wiley: You can find David on social media, on Twitter @CheapyD, C-H-E-A-P-Y-D, and @videogamedeals. Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.