Optimizing advertising on the Internet

Increasing value of advertising on the Web

April 08, 2013— Brossard, Quebec

The Acquisio management team with ITA Robert Sanson: from left to right, Martin Le Sauteur, President and CEO, Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and VP Marketing, Robert Sanson, and Richard Couture, Co-Founder and VP Product Management.

Everyone is familiar with search engines like Google and Bing and social media like Facebook and Twitter, but very few people know about Acquisio. Yet this company in Brossard, a Montreal suburb, is playing a vital role in the increasing value of advertising on the Web. In just a few years, it has become one of the leading world experts in monitoring, assessing and optimizing advertising campaigns on interactive networks.

Its three co-founders, Benoit Allaire, Richard Couture and Marc Poirier, have succeeded in penetrating a highly specialized niche market thanks to the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). They are now providing high-performing software solutions to marketing and media placement specialists, as well as to advertising agencies, in order to help them determine the exact impact of their campaigns on search engines and social networks and to maximize returns on advertising for their clients. How have they managed to do this?

A matter of algorithms

In 2006, the agency, Développement économique Longueuil, put Richard Couture in touch with NRC IRAP: “Our ideas were good, but we needed input from mathematicians and experts in operational research to solve complex problems associated with the performance of key words, a critical area for developing the solutions we wanted to market,” he explains.

The industry technology advisers (ITAs), Robert Sanson and Denis Lacroix, immediately understood Acquisio’s vision. The put the founders in touch with Michel Gamache, a senior professor in the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering at the École Polytechnique, and with the computer science and operational research department (DIRO) at the University of Montreal. Acquisio needed researchers to solve the problems connected with the huge amount of information to be filtered and analysed in order to assess visibility and advertising performance on the Internet.

Starting in 2007, a number of projects undertaken with NRC IRAP made it possible for Acquisio to increase the performance of its solutions much more quickly. “Without access to the expertise and financial support of NRC IRAP, we would not have been able to grow our research and development to its current competitive level,” says Richard Couture. “We saved a precious amount of time, enabling us to offer cutting edge products more rapidly in the marketplace.”

Advertisers using the Web want to be familiar with and use the best vehicles to reach their target audiences and find out whether the money they spend on interactive advertising really results in sales. Over the last five years, Acquisio has developed a number of customized decision-assistance tools, capable of automatically monitoring campaigns conducted on all the main search engines, social networks and advertising sites.

Acquisio has also developed great expertise in the choice and use of key words that underpin Web campaigns. “Most of the public is aware of the importance of the key words that websites use so that they are among the first to be displayed when you do a search on Google,” explains Richard Couture, “but it is unaware how crucially important the choice of key words is when you launch an advertising campaign. The best combinations of thousands of words need to be found to give maximum visibility to the advertiser. We try to predict “unpredictable” performance components by using extremely complex mathematical calculations.” The company also offers state of-the-art consulting services to assist its clients in designing effective and well-targeted interactive campaigns.

“Without access to the expertise and financial support of NRC IRAP, we would not have been able to grow our research and development to its current competitive level,” says Richard Couture. “We saved a precious amount of time, enabling us to offer cutting edge products more rapidly in the marketplace.”

A very profitable investment

“Acquisio’s growth is the result of a partnership that is extremely beneficial to the Canadian economy,” points out ITA, Robert Sanson. “Our financial investment made it possible for Acquisio to go from three to 115 employees in five years and to systematically double its revenues each year from 2007 to 2011.”

Acquisio, which has sales offices in London, Seattle, Chicago and New York, has acquired two innovative companies in the Web sector over the last two years. “We buy companies offering very targeted solutions that complement our portfolio of products and services,” says Acquisio President and CEO Martin Le Sauteur. “Through our dedicated sales force and our marketing expertise, we are able to integrate and market these solutions as part of our business operations.”

Although Acquisio is very active in the North American market, it now generates 30% of its revenues in Europe. Upcoming targets: Australia and Asia. “Online advertising, which was only 1% of world advertising expenditures in 2007, today accounts for 10% of expenditures,” states Richard Couture. “Acquisio has lots of opportunities for growth!”

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