Compass Labs Focuses on Social Intelligence and Audience Segmentation

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dilip-compasslabsFacebook PMD partner Compass Labs launched in 2009 to serve the then nascent social marketing space. Today the company incorporates real-time marketing intelligence into its products.

"We call ourselves a 'proficient listening platform,'" Compass Labs CEO Dilip Venkatachari told AdExchanger. "We started with our capability to identify audience segments and we developed the ability to bring together all of the social information and go beyond broad trending topics to a specific audience segment... and try to extract what is going on in their minds based on social media interactions."

Venkatachari spoke with AdExchanger about the company's Ads Manager and Social Intelligence products, the changes happening with Facebook's PMD program, and how mobile will impact the company's growth.

Can you tell us more about the CLIQ Ads Manager and CLIQ Social Intelligence?

We built a set of algorithms that make it possible, with predictive analytics, to mine the social graph and social analytics to see what people are doing right now and how that relates to a specific brand. The two products share the same heritage but they solve slightly different problems.

CLIQ Ad Manager is a product that lets advertisers use our platform to identify and reach specific and unique audiences in an optimal manner. It comes with its own measurement and optimization tools. We measure impressions so we can understand what kinds of audiences are more apt to convert at a certain time. And we apply all of that to each campaign.

Social intelligence is an information and planning tool that provides real time information on, if you want to run a campaign, what you should be doing and what topics would work for your objectives. For your audience, how do you reach them on social media? What types of TV shows do they watch and should you buy? It's a talking point for your media planning and media mix modeling. It can also set up an alert and detect when competitors are running campaigns on social media. Social Intelligence just came out of beta in February.

What is your revenue model and what can you say about funding?

Our revenue model is straightforward. For Ads Manager, it is an execution platform and we are paid when people run campaigns through it. Social Intelligence is an enterprise self-serve social marketing platform product where we get dollars per year based on number of users and number of brands they track.

For funding, we've raised two rounds of investing: one about three and a half years ago and one slightly over a year ago. Together we've raised just under $15 million and our investors include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Presidio Ventures, and Triple Point Capital.

Tell me about your relationship with Facebook? Where does the Facebook Ads API fit in for you?

We have access to their API. There are a lot of people who have access to the API, but we go beyond providing workflow solutions on top of the API and provide fundamental data and intelligence that makes it more effective for users. For the Ads Manager, a vast majority of the spend is on Facebook, which I think will change over time, as Twitter emerges as a serious platform.

Who is in your competitive set and how do you differentiate yourself?

We think ourselves as listening and action platform, and we would consider some competitors to be Radian6 and other listening platforms that provide trending topics and monitors and so on. The differentiation between us and other platforms is we are able to look at not just the high level of trending topics, but at the very fine-tuned level. At an audience segment level, we are able to identify what is going on in their minds and what they are talking about now; what specific people, who favor a particular brand or a certain TV show, which lets you use it for action in the short term and not just for research.

We believe that mere workflow isn't sufficient, you have to truly offer new value and help marketers better understand their customers and competitors, and better reach their audience, and give them intelligence that they need, immediately. Social media is highly interactive; this is the world’s largest focus group. We take publicly available information,  and extract intelligence and insights about key audience segments. That is what is truly valuable for marketers and advertisers; it tells them where and what they should do, now.

How has the Facebook Exchange affected your company and its business?

We have been experimenting with it through some partners. Facebook Exchange, in the absence of Facebook social data, is no more than an extension of the display advertising that is already out there; it's adding inventory. But you don't get to engage with customers at the point where they are, but more importantly, as customers move to mobile, you don't have a meaningful way to interact. The feed-like ads are most likely to get engagement and that's where the opportunity is, which is what makes Facebook Exchange less relevant. But once Facebook incorporates all of that, this will be a positive.

Is mobile becoming part of your business? How is that growth fueling Compass Labs?

Mobile is a very rapidly growing part of our business. We looked at month-to-month growth a couple months ago and we found mobile had grown 15% month-to-month. It is approaching the halfway mark very quickly in terms of where the usage is. As we add Twitter, we expect that to grow very quickly: by mid-to-late Q2, mobile will be 50% to 75%.

You have fewer opportunities to serve ads to customers because it tends to be more intrusive, so the notion of being aware of who you are advertising to and all of that intelligence and optimization is even more critical. You don't have that many shots. You have to get a lot more intelligent about advertising and make sure you know who you are sending the ad to. This is where we come in and our listening and action platform can be very effective.

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