Tag Archives: Webvisible

WebVisible CEO Ron Burr: Focus is on Sustainability and Growth

SMB reseller WebVisible went through difficult changes last year, downsizing from 320 to 130 employees and retreating from an ambitious direct marketing program. But it has kept core partners intact; key members of the CEO’s installed executive team have stayed intact; and the company has aggressively ramped up its technology program. It is now poised for sustainability and growth, according to CEO Ron Burr, who took over from co-founder Kirsten Mangers last September.

“We made some expensive mistakes on the direct business,” says Burr, former head of NetZero, who joined WebVisible last year. “We took our eye off the ball on our partner business. But now we are refocusing on our channel partners.” In addition to keeping key accounts such as McClatchy and BT, WebVisible recently won the account for Recruit, a $10 billion Japanese company with 12 media properties.

Burr notes that all through the strife, the company has maintained revenues of roughly $25 million. Roughly 70 percent of revenue was U.S. based, and 30 percent was international. This year, the ratio should be 60 percent U.S., and 40 percent international. There should also be 10 percent revenue growth in 2011.

The growth is partially attributable to the rollout of a more efficient, cloud-based tech platform, and new technology that allows the company to “understand the effectiveness of particular keyword structures in a campaign, and how they concert to action by consumers, whether phone calls or clicks. The tech results in a 30 percent increase in effectiveness, says Burr. WebVisible is also focused on providing customers a centralized database for local advertising, whether it is tracking Groupon, clicks or email marketing. “It all needs to co-exist,” says Burr.

“The interesting thing about the pure plays in this space…ReachLocal, Yodle and WebVisible…is that nobody’s made it to profitability,” adds Burr. “That’s the tack we are tacking now. Run this company profitably with a viable business strategy.”

McClatchy Teams with WebVisible to Target SMBs In 29 Markets

McClatchy Co., the third largest newspaper entity with 30 newspapers in 29 markets, including The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, will aggressively target SMBs in each of its markets via an extended deal with WebVisible. The deal, per release, “will help local advertisers provide the most efficient way to get found by customers no matter how they’re looking – in newspaper listings, newspaper web sites, or search engines, or via mobile phones or navigation devices.”

The company has had a long relationship with WebVisible, offering services in Kansas City, Tacoma, WA, and Fresno. But now it is pulling out all the stops. Anchorage and Charlotte have already been added; the next phase will include Boise, Miami, and Sacramento. By December, the roll-out will encompass all 30 daily newspapers in 29 U.S. markets.

McClatchy VP of Strategic Development James Calloway tells us that McClatchy’s sales forces have seen a dramatic increase in advertisers demanding help for getting into search marketing. “There is a learning curve. It is a different state of mind,” he says. But McClatchy’s papers that have been working with WebVisible have “done well.”

Calloway says a key to getting it right has been to offer advertisers an option of going with either a guaranteed click model or a budget based model offering a range of services for a fixed amount. Over time, he sees the guaranteed model fading. But “we basically need to cover it,” he says.

Calloway’s gut feeling is that the offering will take some time to develop in each market, but that it will get decent numbers from the get-go and will continue to grow over time. It will be part of a broader package, he says. The WebVisible effort is being supported by McClatchy’s five person local market development team, which is based in Miami. They work on a a SWAT team basis, in which they hit a market, get it going, and move on to the next one. They are tasked with in-market sales training, and ramping up revenue.

WebVisible recently raised $20 million, and has raised over $37 million in all, as it competes against other third party SMB sales companies such as ReachLocal, Yodle, Marchex and Orange Soda.

WebVisible Announces $20 Million Round

The money is moving quickly into the third party SMB reseller space. ReachLocal has applied for a $100 milion IPO, which could go out this spring. In hopes of similar paydays, its rivals are raising hordes of cash. Yodle, for instance, has announced that it has added $10 million, boosting its total amount raised $38 million. And now WebVisible has announced a $20 million round, making its total amount raised $37 million.

According to Paid Content, the new round was led by Adams Street Partners, a Chicago-based PE firm. WebVisible’s last round, for $12 million, was led by Sutter Hill Ventures, with previous backer Redpoint Ventures.

WebVisible CEO Kirsten Mangers tells us that she would certainly claim certain competitive advantages over ReachLocal. But Reach’s “explosive growth shows that the market is solid; it is really good green field. Local interactive is the emerging field in interactive,” she adds. “Wall Street will show its support of the business mode.”

While WebVisible doesn’t disclose earnings, Mangers notes that it had 113 percent year over year growth in 2009, and a client roster of 40-45,000 active SMBs. More than 100,000 accounts have worked with WebVisible at one time or anther. Top partners include AT&T, Intuit and BT.

WebVisible has also greatly boosted its presence in its size and international presence, with operations in Europe and Australia. Several international deals are pending,adds Mangers. It is also investing heavily in its “Geneva” (i.e. neutral) technology platform .

With the rise of mobile, WebVisible has been especially focused on building “multi-media, multi-device and multi-persona” capabilities that can effectively reach users in different places and dayparts,” says Mangers. “Local is where the consumers says it is.” While mobile is still a minor piece of the puzzle, Mangers predicts “it will be a rather high percentage in the course of the next 24 months.”

But, she emphasizes, it is important not to get too far ahead of the cart. “So many SMBs still haven’t tipped their toes into the search waters yet.”

ReachLocal Files for IPO

ReachLocal, the fast growing search and display sales channel for small businesses with operations in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia, has filed with the SEC to raise $100 million in an IPO. The company recently reported that it has 500 + sales people and 300 staffers.

Reach earned $146.7 million in revenue in 2008, up from $68.4 million in 2007. It had a net loss of $7 million in 2008. It has raised over $60 million, including $55.2 million two years ago and was rumored to be valued at $305 million at that time.

The IPO, assuming it goes out, will be closely watched by other SMB sales companies that may pursue a similar route, including WebVisible, Yodle, Clickable, Matchcraft, Orange Soda and others. Marchex has been public since 2004.

ILM:09: SMBs Benefit from More Competition to Google, Search Preferences

Yodle CEO Court Cunningham says that a major shift is occurring in SMB marketing as Google starts to give preference in rankings to merchant sites rather than to directory listings. “There are many, many more merchant sites” than there were a year ago, he noted on a panel at ILM:09 that also featured WebVisible CEO Kirsten Manger and LA Times Senior Director of Sales Andy Vogel. “That’s a potential threat to people who are directory oriented, while it is a boon to people producing rich media like Yelp and others.”

It is also shows a shift to third party sales sites as possible substitutes for directories – or so third party sites hope. It is especially important as small businesses shift a disproportionate amount of their spending on marketing from traditional media to the Web as the economy recovers.

The sales challenge, however, is that many SMBs don’t always fully understand what their expectations should be and continue to churn at uncomfortably high levels. WebVisible CEO Kirsten Mangers cited an “inflection point” in month four of a contract. Once an SMB reaches it, their churn level is likely to dramatically reduced among SMBs.

Mangers also noted that SMB sales is positively impacted by the diffusion of Web-based technologies. “Whatever happens in national will make it to local in the next eighteen to 24 months,” she said. Video, for instance, has arrived in a major way. SMBs get a five to thirty-five percent lift in conversions by including video with their website.

Yodle’s Cunningham echoed Mangers on churn issues. “After six months, people are very, very loyal. Customer lifespans may be three or four years,” he said. And they should be loyal, he says, since third party sales groups do so much for SMBs. “They need the power of our ten person marketing department,” and so forth, he notes.

Cunningham and Mangers also said the search environment is getting more competitive and probably cheaper, as Google gets more competition from the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft Bing. Mangers noted that the efficacy of Yahoo is up 123 percent from last year as better technology has been applied. With relevance up significantly, “we can spend more money on Yahoo,” added Cunningham.

Money can also be spent on other marketing products. “It is not a one size fits all approach,” said Cunningham. Search advertising doesn’t make sense for every restaurant, for instance – especially is acquisition ends up costing $30-$50 a pop. If they’re smart, they’ll take a restaurant.com coupon-like approach, he said.

The LA Times’ Andy Vogel, meanwhile, said his paper has been making a different kind of pitch to SMBs, mostly focused on its broad, increasingly involved, 92 percent reach, which includes the flagship paper and its related verticals, as well as The Tribune’s other area radio stations, ethnic media, community papers and local blogs. Vogel noted that ten of the 50 most read blogs in the U.S. originate from a LA Times Media Group Brand.

“We produce tons of hyperlocal content,” he said. Tribune’s community paper in Newport Beach, for instance, produces more content and has a higher level of readership than any other local media.

On a sales level, that will be reinforced in 2010, as the sites integrate advanced mapping and geo-spatial applications. A new iPhone app, for instance, allows users to create programs and sell ads on specific streets, all nicely plotted for advertisers. “Small things like that can help customers absorb it better,” he said.. The site has leveraged this capability by adding a “geo-proximity celebrity” watch that users can tap into to report sightings of favorite stars.

Vogel also says that Tribune sales efforts are triply reinforced, thanks to a recent restructuring. “We have a sales force that includes ‘hunters,’ ‘farmers’ and ‘customer service reps,’” he says. That means “we have three people always thinking about your business.”

WebVisible: SMBs Spent Average of $1,658 on Search in Q3; Google’s Share Drops a Little

Small businesses that buy search spent $1,658 on average in Q3 2009, a figure that was up 91 percent from 3Q 2008, according to a new report issued by WebVisible, a company that manages online marketing campaigns for SMBs.

Thirty-three percent of the SMB search market is made up of advertisers spending between $1,000 and $1,999. Fifteen percent is made up of advertising spending between $2,000 and $2,999. Twelve percent is made up of advertising spending above $3,000 on the high end, and 19 percent spend between $100-$999 on the lower end.

The report, “State of Small Businesses Online Advertising, Search Edition, Q3,” noted that search spending is widely spread out among SMB categories, with the Top 20 categories making up just 20 percent of total search spending. Leading spenders were Attorneys, Dentists, Air Conditioning Services, Physicians & Surgeons, Insurance, Roofing, and Plumbing Contractors. Of these only the top four categories had spending share over two percent.

While Google dominates spending with over 60 percent of the market, that domination has lessened by five percentage points as lower priced competitors picked up the slack, according to the report. It also says that Google’s cost per click (CPC) jumped 14 percent from last year, and its CPC is now 30 percent above Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. The report notes that Yahoo has over 26 percent share, and that Bing has 10.5 percent.

The ILM:09 Lineup: Dec. 9-11 in LA

The lineup for BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media ’09 is really taking shape. The speakers truly represent a “who’s who” of what’s going on in the space that is interesting, progressive and important.

ILM is the culmination of this year’s research and analysis, and takes place Dec. 9-11 at our favorite hotel, The Century Plaza in LA. Here’s the registration info. And here’s the current lineup.
Willow Bay, Senior Editor, Huffington Post
Cory Bergman, Director, New Product Development, MSNBC.com
Matthew Berk, Executive VP, Product Engineering, Marchex
Jason Boseck, President, Parking Data Ventures
Neil Budde, President and Chief Product Officer, Daily Me
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Executive in Residence, Accel Partners
Surojit Chatterjee, Product Manager, Google
Darrin Clement, CEO, Maponics
Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle
Geoff Donaker, COO, Yelp
Aaron Finn, President and CEO, AdReady
Matt Howard, CEO. SMBLive
Mark Josephson, CEO, Outside.in
Warren Kay, VP, Local, Fox Interactive Networks
Tim Kendall, Director, Monetization, Facebook
Cyrus Krohn, Director, Online Services Programming, Microsoft
Chris LaSala, Director, Local, Google
Warren Lee, Venture Partner, Canaan Partners
Lem Lloyd, VP, U.S. Partnerships, Yahoo
Scott Moore, U.S. Executive Producer, MSN, Microsoft
Mike Orren, President and Founder, Pegasus News
Geneva Overholser, Director, USC Annenberg School
Meredith Papp, Director, Product Marketing, Google
Jim Pastor, Senior VP, ESPN Local Digital
Kevin Ryan, CMO, WebVisible
Lori H. Schwartz, Senior VP, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab
Doug Scott, VP of Marketing, RMG Networks
Julia Scott, Chief Blogger and CEO, BargainBabe LA
Andy Simms, Director of Advertising Programs, Skype
Scott Tobias, President and COO, Village Voice Media
Kinsley Wilson, SVP and GM, NPR Digital
Victor Wong, CEO, PaperG
Michael Yang, Venture Partner, Comcast Ventures