Search engine and social media advertising are where marketing lives now, according to David Kidder, co-founder and CEO of Clickable. “The question is not, ‘Is there value in this?’ That question has been put to bed,” he says.
The numbers bear out the statement: it’s estimated that the search engine marketing (SEM) marketplace will grow 14 percent by the end of 2010, to $16.6 billion. There’s just one problem from a small business point of view: 70 percent of small businesses aren’t marketing via search engines or social media, according to a recent American Express study.
And of those companies that do try local search advertising (buying directly from Google and other big search companies), about half don’t return the following year, according to a 2009 study by Borrell Associates.
Why are so many small businesses missing out on SEM?
“It’s a marketplace with a lot of pain,” Kidder says. “It’s not simple for customers to participate in. And it’s not a light switch: you can’t turn it on and get results in one day.
“Search advertising is a balance of targeting and skill. But when you find places to gain traction, it can be an extraordinary driver of growth for business.”
Enter Clickable, a company built to be what Kidder calls a “painkiller.” Clickable’s platform simplifies the complex process of search advertising: buying and managing keywords; tracking impressions, clicks and conversions; and evaluating effectiveness.
On a single dashboard, clients can manage their online investment over a range of search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and platforms (such as Facebook). Clickable has made a significant investment in hiring engineers and designers to find ways to make the interface easy, elegant, and effective.
“Making something hard is simple,” says Kidder, “but making something simple is hard.” The company’s goal? Nothing less than to become the Apple of search and social advertising.
How it works
The typical Clickable customer spends between $5,000 to several hundred thousand dollars a month online for a customized program.“Every company is different, so therefore every solution needs to be different,” says Kidder. “What’s the size of the addressable marketplace? Who is the customer? We help companies get an idea of the up-front costs and what keywords they need to drive traffic to their product or service. That’s the ‘spine,’ and we add ribs or muscles to it to build a campaign.”
Once the client has defined its parameters, goals, and budget, Clickable will build a campaign for search engines and Facebook. One online tool allows the advertiser to track conversions; another allows simultaneous updates in search phrases, keyword bids, and other entities across all networks.
As the client’s campaign rolls out, Clickable will use more than 100 proprietary algorithms to report what’s working and where, and recommend changes to optimize performance. “Once your campaign starts to ramp up you can see, based on data, how truly effective this media is for you,” says Kidder. “If it works, who cares what it costs? You’re going to spend money for all the top-line growth available to you.”
Clickable makes money by taking 5 percent of a client’s monthly spend. The services of its expert Assist team can be had at extra cost, with fees tiered according to the client’s needs.
The road to profitability
Clickable was founded in 2006 by serial entrepreneurs Munish Gandhi (who founded India-based Infoveo, a development company focused on actionable analytics) and Kidder (who founded SmartRay Network, a mobile advertising delivery system). Clickable first set up shop in India, and the bulk of its products are still developed there.