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New Wave Of Paid Search Tools Coming: Q&A With BoostCTR's David Greenbaum

Astoundingly, eMarketer projects U.S. online search spending to reach over twelve billion dollars this year which is almost half of all advertising dollars spent online (most of that is in paid search). So forget the advancements made in mobile, social, email, and display! In 2011 and beyond, search marketers will surely be able to continue with their steady diet of high-return, bottom of the funnel keywords and ads that generate many more times that twelve billion dollars investment and deliver advertisers incredible ROI.

And success breeds opportunity.

As SEM starts its second decade, a wave of start-ups has emerged which attempt to leverage previously untapped niche’ areas of our industry. Get ready for new tools that can help with the management, optimization, testing, workflow, research, and efficiency of your PPC campaigns. This could be a very exciting time for paid search to get a new resurgence in innovation and ultimately bring in more dollars to the channel.

One such company, BoostCTR, is a great example of one of these niche tools popping to the surface. Is it the paid search supertool we’ve all been waiting for? No, not at all actually. BoostCTR just focuses on a single part of the PPC task list—writing ads. They have a simple value proposition: increase your ad performance or your money back.

I spoke with David Greenbaum, CEO and Founder of BoostCTR, to get some insights about the company.

Q: First, what’s the background of the founders?

David: My partner Rob Lenderman and I started the company.  My background is in business development and private equity.  Rob has a technical/marketing background and has spent almost 10 years working in online marketing.

Q: How would you articulate BoostCTR’s mission?

David: BoostCTR’s mission is to provide all advertisers with access to world class copywriters on a pay-for-performance basis. We guarantee to improve ad performance or we refund your investment. So from our perspective, we are offering tremendous upside (especially when you consider our system average of 70% lift) while eliminating the downside for advertisers.

Q: Who do you currently work with?

David: We have some absolutely amazing clients. Our longest standing user is CafePress. We are currently optimizing for Expedia, Gap, Sharper Image, Reply.com, Hunch, Intelius and Intuit. We also work with quite a few SMBs. The cool thing is because we have great copywriters taking unique approaches to every client our results are really consistent across the board.

Q: What is your SEM point of view?

David: We have three core beliefs when it comes to search marketing that really help inform our company and product direction:

  1. It works best when you’re performance-oriented and focus on making a profit on every click.
  2. Search is getting increasingly complex, and point solutions and specialists at different points in the campaign creation chain can offer powerful returns.
  3. Search marketing is iterative – whether it’s monitoring bidding, optimizing and creating new ad text, or constantly mining search query data for negatives you have to approach your campaigns as living, breathing entities that need consistent attention if you want to drive profits.

Q: Why ad copywriting?  Why do you feel this is such a critical need for advertisers engaged in search engine marketing?

David: From our perspective, ad copywriting is the red-headed stepchild of the SEM optimization world. Text ads are on the front end of $30 billion spent on global search marketing. Everyone knows how important at text is, and yet very few feel that they are doing an adequate job of optimizing.

Most companies don’t track the performance of their internal copywriting efforts. If you’re not tracking performance, this eliminates the incentive of account managers to focus on this aspect of their job. We are confident that most advertisers don’t know the average win rate of their writers. At BoostCTR, we fixate on these numbers.

Q: So what kinds of SEMers could utilize your service?

David: I think advertisers have different pain points, but when you offer something that is strictly pay for performance and really simple to get up and running everyone can find some utility in it. Enterprise level advertisers such as Expedia face challenges staffing up for their hundreds of thousands of ad groups with full time employees. On the other hand, SMBs are often spending real money that has a serious impact on their business on paid search and usually don’t have access to world-class copywriting talent.

Q: Take us through how an advertiser would engage with you.  How does the process work?

David: Advertisers buy credits in our system. Each credit entitles the advertiser to a guaranteed improvement. Advertisers then provide us with their AdWords account credentials. We use this to sync up with their account. They identify which ad groups they want to apply their credits to. We create contests around these ad groups and challenge our writers to produce better ads.

The advertisers review the stream of submissions that our writers provide, and accept the ads they want to test and reject (at no cost) the rest. We automatically upload the approved ads into their AdWords account and begin split testing on the chosen success metrics. If we win, the credit is used up, if not, we repeat the submission process. So, we have an iterative approach to ad writing, with each round our writers understand the account better and are producing better, ads.

Q: And what kinds of results are you seeing?

David: In three months of us actively marketing the site at conventions, we have a large pool of advertisers. Our average improvement amount is 70% lift in CTR. Moreover, we are seeing conversion rates hold or improve for our clients. So this is truly incremental, profitable lift for clients. You can see a chronological list of our most recent wins on the bottom right of our homepage in the section titled Recent CTR Boosts.

Q: You’re a fairly new company. What are some of the early pain points that you’re working out?

David: I think the biggest challenge for us at the moment is pretty typical of startups: prioritizing what to build next. We have a lot of great ideas about how to drive better results for advertisers, and we’re always trying to find ways to get better tools in the hands of our writers (both so that they can do better work for advertisers and so that they can be more efficient and make more money themselves).

For instance, we are launching an algorithm that will allow us to identify which ad groups advertisers should be testing and in what order. We are also launching new features that will speed up the pace of our optimization process. Deciding which of these projects get what resources is definitely a challenge.

Q: Where do you see this company in five years? What’s on the roadmap?

David: The key to BoostCTR’s success has been our laser focus on doing one thing well – writing PPC ad copy. However, ad text is just the first use case for our platform. We see other writing based use cases such as working on landing page copy, or headlines on checkout pages. The key test we use when considering whether we will apply our writer network to a use case is whether there is a high ratio of value created to time invested on the part of a skilled writer.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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