David S. Kidder is co-founder and CEO of Clickable, a search networks and social advertising buying platform.
Kidder provided an update on his company's latest news and views since his last interview with AdExchanger.com in April of 2010.
Regarding your latest announcement, what's new in your ad platform - particularly the Facebook channel?
We just released our Facebook Advertising Suite into Beta. It is part of our flagship bid management tool, Clickable Pro. Our intention is to provide marketers greater ability to overcome one of the fundamental challenges of advertising on Facebook: creating and managing Facebook Ads quickly and at scale. Our Suite includes modular tools to create, manage and deliver 32 (and soon 2,000) ads all at once from combinations of images, ad copy and target audiences. The Suite’s ad builder can assign ads to multiple campaigns, or even create new campaigns. And the Suite’s media and target libraries allow marketers to easily store and manage assets for future use with intuitive tagging and descriptions.
But this is just the beginning. Facebook is the fastest growing major ad network, and quickly evolving. Over the next few months we’ll release even more sophisticated reporting, more powerful bulk ad creation and editing, ad rotation and scheduling, campaign visualization, and recommendations among other features. Our bid management technology for search engine marketing is unique for its sophistication and simplicity, and we’re working on how to introduce its power to social advertising as well.
What are the next channels you plan to ad to Clickable's platform? Are you concentrating on social channels? Why?
We like to say that Clickable is the all-in-one solution for online advertisers, and we unlock the value across all of the major pay-per-click and social advertising networks, including Google, Bing (including Yahoo) and Facebook. Our strategy is to integrate only the networks that our customers must be on, while avoiding the distraction and dilutive effect of others. This year we’re continuing to build on our core search-engine technology, and have already recently released several important add-ons, like integrated call tracking at the keyword level, and customrecommendations and automated actions.
In parallel, we’re aggressively building out our Social Tools, and expanding on the Facebook Ads API is priority. We will announce additional functionality with other Facebook API’s and new social channels later this year.
What does a typical campaign goal on Facebook? DR, brand? Is it about fan pages, driving e-commerce, or...?
Our customers strive for a variety of goals on Facebook. We’re in a nascent stage of social advertising, and the industry is still in an experimental and highly iterative mode. But it is clear that Facebook’s strengths lie in more top-of-funnel goals like branding and engagement, and fan acquisition is a popular one. We’re developing a portfolio of strategies and product enhancements to connect the dots between fan generation and more specific direct-response objectives that tie closer to purchase.
For example, remarketing is becoming a core competency around Facebook advertising. Because fan acquisition is essentially the establishment of a customer database inside of Facebook, it is critical to remarket to those customers and employ direct response and tracking techniques like coupons and offers. We’re also employing techniques like using Facebook to drive traffic to external landing pages equipped with Google’s remarketing pixel, providing advertisers a great way to drive reach and frequency through contextual ad placements across the Web. From a product perspective, we’ve integrated Facebook’s social context metrics alongside conversion data surfaced through our multi-network conversion tracking pixel, and we’ll continue to integrate with Facebook’s evolving metrics through the Ads API.
There is a lot of opportunity to leverage social advertising with search and pure direct-response, but it’s important to remember they are fundamentally different. They have different account structures, different metrics and different strengths. At this nascent stage we believe it’s best to set separate, well-defined goals for each, with high complimentary value and linkage.
Will the use of third-party data (bluekai, exelate) be incorporated into the platform at some point? Why or why not?
Beyond the major ad networks that integrate with Clickable’s core bid management tool, we provide advanced data management services to several performance advertising agencies and large marketers. We frequently integrate CRM and back-end data, front-end network data, along with third-party audience data, to surface intelligence into each stage of the sales funnel and customer life cycle.
Embracing third-party data sources for our bid management dashboard is a priority, but not on our road map for the first half of 2011.
How is your full-service vs. self-serve business breaking out? Do you see Clickable becoming, at least in part, an agency?
Clickable is not in the agency business, and our revenues are not tied to human resource scale. However, we’ve found that many customers are more likely to thrive on our technology platform if they have access to flexible managed services, which they can easily dial up or down based on need and situation. For example, it is common for an advertiser with, say, $50K in ad spend to reset their campaigns with one of our dedicated PPC or Social experts, then transition to self-management on our technology platform. There are many advertisers and agencies that prefer to have Clickable fully manage their campaigns, with full transparency into their campaigns and performance through our technology. Then there are many companies that only use our technology, and prefer no human touch. The magic is having flexibility to meet the changing needs of advertisers and agencies, and do it at scale. Our technology platform enables us to do that, while our services group maintains an emotional connection with customers, along with expert support.
Are you able to solve the attribution across digital channels? Where does this stand today and do you see it as important for your business?
Clickable Conversion Tracking is a powerful system for monitoring performance across all ad networks, as well as other channels. It complements Clickable Call Tracking and, together, they help drive the intelligence and recommendations within our bid management tool. For more sophisticated customers, our data services team uses our tracking technology along with third-party sources to provide attribution analysis.
Is there a common theme to how Clickable wants to approach creative? For example, is it always about messaging through text - or text and an image?
Clickable’s legacy is in performance advertising, particularly search and text ads. However, we expanded into new media formats early on. For example, two years ago Clickable expanded to Google’s alternative media formats, like image and mobile ads. Our commitment to Facebook Ads includes embracing images, and that’s led to our development of our tag-based media library. While pay-per-click text ads drive most of the business today, what matters most is driving performance for our customers, regardless of ad format. We’ll expand to new formats based on the needs of our customers to drive performance.
Regarding your AMEX partnership where Clickable provides custom, branded version of your platform to AMEX, how do you see this evolving? Will there be more white-label deals?
Amex OPEN is our largest partner, where we provide SearchManager. We have various other partnerships with other world-class brands. For example, we provide our solutions to e-commerce vendors through a partnership with eBay’s ProStores division. Clickable is a scalable platform that can be completely customized and branded, from product, infrastructure, sales and service. We will continue to partner with select, leading brands. We also provide performance advertising solutions to businesses through various partners in the local media industry. We have several more large announcements coming in the first half of 2011 beyond.