AdGrok exits beta, simplifying search engine marketing on Google

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Based in San Francisco AdGrok is one of those companies that takes something that was previously dangerous for non-professionals – in this case managing keyword-based advertising campaigns on Google – and makes it a self-service task that men do average business people can manage without fear. Startup CEO Antonio Garcia-Martinez compares his service to TurboTax in tax preparation or Charles Schwab in investing.

Oddly, however, many large companies and advertising agencies that could afford to pay someone to discover Google’s search engine marketing tool called AdWords are signing up to use AdGrok instead (or, at least, in addition). “It was going to be a long-tail, Mom-and-Pop strategy, but it turns out that most of our biggest users aren’t small,” Garcia-Martinez explains. Eventbrite, Kiva, and smartphone case maker Coveroo all use AdGrok to manage their search campaigns. The company’s signature service is the “GrokBar,” a small, user-friendly pop-up that appears above the page for which you are trying to increase search engine traffic.

This is one more data point in the “consumer” trend: the tendency of business users to opt for a user-friendly, hassle-free cloud service, where it exists, rather than complicated enterprise software. . Other classic examples include Salesforce.com in the salesforce automation area and Box.net in sharing business documents. AdWords itself is cloud-based, and after years of apparent neglect, Google is starting to improve it, but it still lacks basic functions available from AdGrok, such as the ability to quickly find out how a campaign works. keyword-based data works on the level of a single web page within a site (for a product in an online catalog, for example).

AdGrok rolled out of the Y Combinator incubator last summer, and until this week you needed an invite to join its beta testing program. But today, AdGrok is out of beta, opening the site up to the general public and explaining how it plans to price the service. It’s free if you manage less than $ 500 per month in AdWords spending. Above this level, you can sign up for basic service at $ 50 per month or professional service at $ 150 to $ 250 per month; The main difference between these levels, Garcia-Martinez explains, is in the customer support provided by the AdGrok team. The average customer spends around $ 2,000 per month through AdGrok, and the largest spends over $ 70,000, he says.

AdGrok also speaks for the first time about its financing. The company claims to have raised $ 470,000 from Triple Point Capital and a group of individual investors, including former Googler Chris Sacca, former KPCB partner Russ Siegelman and Triple Point partner Ben Narisin. “It’s a pretty small round by today’s standards, but we’re aiming for enthusiasm and hoping to break even fairly quickly,” said Garcia-Martinez, who co-founded AdGrok with Matthew McEachen and Argyris. Zymnis. “So we didn’t want to put up with such dilution. “

Garcia-Martinez says he’s only slightly surprised that many of the more than 300 customers using AdGrok are large companies. It’s easy to set up an AdWords campaign – just choose a set of keywords, then tell Google how much you’re willing to bid, and your text ad will appear at the top of the stack when Google users search. related to those keywords. But the complexities multiply quickly if you’re not sure what keywords to use or trying to drive traffic to a large website with lots of pages. This means that newbie users need some getting started, but at the same time it means that … Next page “

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist, producer and host of the Soonish podcast. Follow @soonishpodcast

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