Q&A with Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO of Acquisio

I asked Greg Meyers of iGESSO, LLC to interview Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Acquisio, before SES San Jose 2009. Acquisio is one of the scores of sponsors and exhibitors that you’ll want to check out when the exhibit hall is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11, and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 12.

Marc Poirier.jpg You should know that no t-shirts were bartered for this exclusive interview. The selection was made entirely by using an algorithm that analyzed 958 photos in the SESConferenceSeries’ photostream to find the most relevant result for the term, “Marc Poirier.”

Marc Poirier is a professional Search Engine Marketing expert with more than a decade experience in the Search industry. He is Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Acquisio where he leads all marketing activities.

Prior to his position at Acquisio, Marc was founder and president at Canalytics, a boutique SEM and SEO agency regarded as one of the most active Google Analytics Authorized Consultants in the world today. Prior to Canalytics, he held various e-marketing management positions for technology and software companies that include Komunik – a Relational Marketing software vendor, Cognicase – a Canadian leading IT consulting and systems integration firms, aside from being a strategic consultant at U.S. based marchFIRST.

Marc began his entrepreneurial career in 1996 while completing his Cognitive Science Ph. D. studies when he founded Webaxis Alliance, an interactive agency that worked on major Canadian websites such as sympatico.ca and canada411.ca .

Whenever the opportunity arises, Marc loves to fish and is an amateur walleye fisherman who shares his passion on his blog, http://marc.poirier.com.

Question #1: Can you explain to our audience what is the driving force behind the creation of Acquisio? Was there a specific opportunity you wanted to capitalize on?

Answer: Originally, Acquisio was a search marketing agency I co-founded in 2003. We had some level of success doing this, and in this industry, with success comes the pain of reporting. We reached a point where building our reports for all our clients would take a team of 4 people 2 weeks of non-stop mind-numbing work in Excel, and then Powerpoint or worse desktop publishing software. Not a great way to scale a business. But our clients loved their reports, and we knew it was the reason they paid their bill at the end of each month. When you are an agency, in many ways, the product you sell IS the report. So they had to be done as quickly as possible and with as much attention to detail as possible so we could get paid. But we would often make errors, or forget something, it was a total nightmare. In case anyone wonders why we have these t-shirts, well, now you know.

We always looked around for software to help automate some of this stuff, but we never did find anything that would do much of what we needed. Certainly, bid management software was NOT the answer, though we definitely had our share of experience playing with them.

At this time, the opportunity became clear that one of the things our industry needed was a productivity platform for search marketing agencies. The vision originally was to provide one login to all the engines, along with all the tools needed to launch and manage client campaigns. It had to be a white label platform. It had to be easy to use and visually appealing. And most of all, it had to save our future clients time, lots of time.

The first iteration offered an application that produced visually engaging, client-ready white label reports. We were the first, and as far as I know, still the only ones offering it. Later we designed a multi-engine bulk editor, which we designed just like the Google AdWords editor, but it support AdWords, YSM and adCenter. We were also the first to do it, but others followed eventually with similar tools.

The campaign automation platform came later. We looked at the bid management space and felt it was so outdated we couldn’t just reproduce what was already there, so we spent a lot of time with our product advisory board and with our clients to design a tool that would let the marketers design business rules using every available bit of data we have to accomplish any given task automatically.

Question #2: In all of Paid Search Marketing, there are users with many different levels of experience. Can you give us some insights into Acquisio’s main target market? For example, your service appears to be targeted to both Search Marketing Agencies and Individual Advertisers? Which market is this platform best suited for?

Answer: Our market has always been clear – we focus on helping agencies. We are the only SEM platform whose mission is focused on helping agencies. They share the same business model, and they have a unique set of challenges; and it’s definitely not about managing bids. Our mission is to provide a platform that will make them extremely efficient.

Acquisio SEARCH attracts non-agencies as well, and we do have several very large advertisers using Acquisio SEARCH. They love it – in fact some of them tell us we offer much more value than the so-called “enterprise-class” platforms. Our product is significantly more affordable than most of them are, and while there may be some added benefits to using their product, for many large advertisers with multiple accounts, we’re just a slam-dunk!

Question #3: For just about every PPC Guru in the world, the Google Adwords Editor is the most widely used Adwords management tool on the market. It’s also attractive because it is a FREE Desktop Tool. What makes Acquisio more valuable than the Adwords Editor?

Answer: AdWords Editor is a great tool. But it only works for AdWords. That’s a big problem right there!

We offer an almost exact replica of Google AdWords editor. It is built using Flex, so it works in your browser. I mean it really is just the same. You can edit your keywords, negatives, text ads, adgroups and campaigns exactly the same way you would in AdWords Editor.

It is “better” than AdWords editor because it also supports YSM and adCenter, in the same model. No learning curve. You can move things from one engine to the next with ease. It’s a great tool.

Then of course, AdWords editor doesn’t save you hundreds of hours of error prone grunt work by automatically generating private label client-ready reports at the end of each month

It also doesn’t keep an eye on things for you while you sleep, triggering changes or pausing items, or even sending out alerts. Building intelligent makes a significant difference in the ROI of most campaigns.

Question #4: During this Economic down-turn, is Acquisio concerned at with the overall decline of PPC Budgets? If so, what strategies are in place to try and make the best of the situation?

Answer: Up until very recently we didn’t notice anything at all, probably because we are still in hyper-growth and adding so many new clients all the time, and growing our revenue each month, it’s been hard to see any downside to anything.

However last month we poured over some numbers and one of the things we did notice is that overall agencies are losing some accounts, a significant number of PPC advertisers have either gone out of business, or are in such a bad situation that they even stop spending money on paid search. It’s not good.

Question #5: Can you provide our PPC audience with anything new and/or exciting enhancements in Acquisio’s Development Pipeline? Are there any announcements that you would like to make to this search marketing audience?

Answer: Sure, one of them is that we just completed our first acquisition. We will be announcing all the details later on this week, but I can say it is the coolest landing page application we’ve seen 😉

Some of the things coming down the pipe in the next few weeks are third party data integration. As part of this new capability comes something that has been keeping us busy for a while now: conversion and revenue attribution.

Question #6: Acquisio, as well as many other PPC Applications such as Omniture SearchCenter use API tokens to communicate to the Search Engine Accounts in real-time. What makes Acquisio’s API interface any better than it’s competitors?

Answer: Yes we interface with these APIs all day long, but this is the common foundation we all have. I mean maybe one thing that may differentiate us is we have several large local search agencies as clients, and some of them are Google AdWords resellers. This gives them several benefits, such as not having to pay their AdWords Quotas. Our API implementation supports API quota management for AdWords resellers.

Another thing that may be interesting is that we try to interface with the tools marketers use every day, we already have API integration with Wordtracker and some other keyword recommendation tools, and we want to continue in that direction with competitive analysis tools, web analytics tools, ad servers, and call tracking platforms.

Also, API integration to other ad networks are in the works, such as 2nd tier search engines, B2B engines, shopping engines, and when it becomes possible, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (if they ever go there).

Finally, we will offer access to the main display ad networks when they provide API access.

Question #7: What would you say is the “secret sauce” of the Acquisio’s Platform? Is it a specific tool or a combination of functions?

Answer: Acquisio SEARCH is the only productivity platform for SEM agencies. We literally save SEM agencies around the world tens of thousands of hours of grunt work every month. We are down to earth people, and we come from the world of SEM agencies.

It has always been our goal to make the business of serving SEM clients as easy as possible, and to free up as much time as we can so our clients can focus on the strategic things that make a difference for their clients.

For Acquisio, the “secret sauce” is pretty much to bring immediate and evident value to your customers. We do that pretty well I would say.

For a free demo of Acquisio please visit: http://www.acquisio.com/contact-for-demo.php

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