How are you doing compared to your peers? That is the question that Pricing Engine's Jeremy Kagan is asking.
Built on the cloud and employing a full array of Amazon Web Services, Pricing Engine’s charter is to help smaller advertisers deploy, manage, and optimize search and advertising campaigns across multiple channels through a single, simple interface.
I spoke to Kagan, founder and CEO, about Pricing Engine, a company that benchmarks one business against another by anonymously comparing data across key performance metrics -- by industry, geography, and monetary benchmarks -- and reports its findings via a "report card." (Employing MySQL databases and some sophisticated graphical and reporting software.)
Focusing on the actionable tasks that increase traffic flow will save time and money, according to Kagan. A suite of self-service tools, templates, and diagnostics are designed to ensure that customers focus advertising on where it can have an impact.
Kagan knows advertising best practices. He is a Professor of Digital Marketing at Columbia Business School, advises Internet startups on strategy and marketing, and is a corporate trainer for leading companies and advertising agencies in all areas of digital marketing.
Kagan also has worked outside of academia -- at Sony Music Entertainment in the Global Digital Business, and as vice president/director of strategy and customer insight for Publicis Modem. Prior to Publicis Modem, Kagan was a consultant with IBM, working on strategy and change initiatives practice for media and entertainment companies like Disney, Cox Communications and Time.
I asked Kagan how Pricing Engine was different from other solutions. Kagan put it this way:
- We help SMBs and VSBs (very small businesses) – the smallest businesses other people just can’t work with economically – we’re built as a platform to work with this end of the market.
- We’re a channel agnostic, freemium model. Customers can use our product for free, and, if they choose, they can choose to inexpensively upgrade for more features. This allows us to be a trusted partner, because we’re really looking out for “the little guy” in a market that often tries to sell them things they don’t need.
- We are a unique data collective. We anonymously pool performance data across channels and industries to accurately benchmark local businesses to each other. This lets a small business owner get a realistic idea of how he or she could do, rather than expecting a local pizza shop to perform like Domino’s.”
Kagan said that for years he had watched increasingly sophisticated solutions in the advertising ecosystem be adopted by large advertisers, and wondered why no one was helping the little guy; the smaller advertisers were basically limited to Google, Yelp, Groupon, and Facebook. “One major ‘Aha!’," Kagan said, "was that 98 percentof the advertisers on Google spend less than $10,000 per month – our target audience!”
Generally, the market has focused on the advertisers spending more than $10,000 a month, so Pricing Engine went the exact opposite direction, according to Kagan, and built a platform targeted at everyone else – a ‘freemium’ data collective with lots of best practices automated right in.
Kagan realized early on that instead of one big company running a $1 million campaign to test lots of ideas, they could band together 1,000 little companies that collectively spent about the same amount - and “get learnings and best practices from the peer group.”
“We can’t share data directly from a single client, but we had hundreds of users on the platform already in the beta test.” Kagan found that most users saw, “initial benefits of 20 to 40 percent improvement in performance after joining."
Ultimately Pricing Engine would want to have tens of thousands of businesses to identify and spread best practices across the board, and to be a digital advertising start page.
Kagan is in the envious position of having to deal with lots of success problems – “…we can’t follow up and integrate all the leads we have fast enough. If all of our signed partners decided they wanted to move fast, we’d have trouble dealing with the volume! I worry that we can’t capture all the demand we’re seeing.” Good problems to have.
Let me know what you think.