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Canadian Bank RBC to Offer SEM to SMBs Using Acquisio Platform

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PPC platform provider Acquisio, which is now describing itself as “North America’s leading local business software for online advertising management,” has announced a deal with the Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”). RBC will now offer the company’s SMB-focused platform Promote to its customers.

Promote is an SEM tool that relies heavily on automation for campaign set up and optimization to simplify the process and time involved in managing PPC. It also promises success at lower budget levels for both DIY and resellers.

RBC says it has 16 million customers in Canada and globally. It doesn’t break out which of those are small business accounts, but the number is likely in the hundreds of thousands or perhaps in the millions.

Historically companies in Acquisio’s position have relied heavily on directory publishers, newspapers and a small group of other local media providers as resellers or channel partners. In North America they collectively provide access to several million SMBs. The challenge is that everyone is targeting these same channel partners. Acquisio’s announcement is interesting because it represents an effort to reach beyond those traditional media sellers.

In the past Amex and isolated other financial services companies and banks have unsuccessfully tried to sell marketing services to small business customers. But that was years ago; the timing may be much better today and the SMB market may be ready to consider non-traditional suppliers of services.

Are SMB owners prepared to buy marketing services from a bank? If RBC is “trusted” by its SMB customers, the answer may be yes. It will be interesting to check back on adoption and churn later on.

Acquisio account lifespan increase through automation

Earlier this year LSA published a report with Acquisio about how automation and machine learning can improve SEM performance and advertiser retention at lower-budget levels. You can download the report here (immediate download).

Internal customer data, presented in the report, found that automation made it 2.5 – 7x more likely for campaigns to hit budget targets and reduced CPCs up to 40%. Automation also reduced the time involved in actively managing accounts from 60 minutes per month to 20 minutes per month — while increasing average account lifespans.

So there may be something to this “machine learning” thing after all.

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