A Q&A with Compass Labs co-founder and CEO Dilip Venkatachari. The San Jose–based company was founded in 2009.
SUB: Please describe what Compass Labs is, and the value proposition you bring to social media advertising.
Venkatachari: Compass Labs applies science to social media advertising with CLIQ (Compass Labs IQ), a self-service or fully managed social media advertising platform that makes scalable, targeted social advertising campaigns easy to execute and measure for agencies and brands. By harnessing social users’ actions and behaviors, CLIQ is able to better understand and engage audiences, more precisely target, and extract unique audience and competitor insights. All of this translates into a better performing campaign, in terms of the quality of the audience delivered and ROI, and an increased social IQ for the brand.
SUB: What are your target markets?
Venkatachari: Advertising agencies and brand marketers.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Venkatachari: We are unique in our ability to extract marketing intelligence and audience insights from public social content. By applying science to social media advertising, our CLIQ social media advertising platform is distinctive in its ability to provide more precise targeting, enhanced ad performance and deeper campaign and audience insights.
SUB: What differentiates Compass Labs from the competition?
Venkatachari: Compass Labs IQ (CLIQ) applies pure science to social media advertising with a social-data-powered ad technology platform that takes the guesswork and complexity out of social media advertising and replaces it with sophisticated targeting and campaign management tools, analytics and insights. And, CLIQ supports social advertising across all social networks and apps, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establish it?
Venkatachari: Compass Labs was founded in 2009 by a team of industry veterans and scientists. The first steps we took were to define the customer need and to identify the team needed to build and launch our solution.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Compass Labs? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Venkatachari: Witnessing the explosive adoption rate of social networks and understanding the complexities behind delivering and optimizing ads within these dynamic environments, we knew that traditional ad technologies would not work in this environment and that a new solution was needed.
SUB: Social media has created a giant new opportunity in advertising for firms like yours. How big do you think the market opportunity is in social media advertising?
Venkatachari: Social media advertising spend is rapidly increasing and eMarketer predicts that by 2014 U.S. social ad spend will hit $5.6 billion. The majority of our clients are large brand advertisers, so we are confident you will see a lot of momentum in social in 2012 as ad dollars shift from more traditional advertising, like TV, to social.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Venkatachari: A constant obstacle in a market, like social media, that is rapidly growing is ensuring our team stays laser focused on our strategy and is executing to plan. And secondly, it is hiring the right team members, in terms of capabilities and cultural fit.
SUB: You recently raised $6 million in new funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Venkatachari: We will use our funding to invest further in the development of our CLIQ social media advertising platform, grow our ad sales team, increase our marketing efforts and expand into international markets.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Venkatachari: Given we just raised a round, we don’t have any near-term plans to raise more outside funding.
SUB: What are your goals for Compass Labs over the next year or so?
Venkatachari: Significant growth in the adoption of our CLIQ social media advertising platform, continuous product enhancements to wow our customers, and building a strong sales and product focused organization.
Compass Labs – www.compasslabs.com