CompanionLabs Looks To Take Guesswork Out Of Social Media Advertising

Brian Deagan knows he is teetering on the edge of hyperbole when he talks about the power of Facebook as an advertising platform. But he’s also acutely aware of the social media site’s impressive capabilities.

With Facebook, advertisers have the ability to pinpoint winning campaigns in ways not possible with print or other traditional channels.

“I don’t mean to seem too dramatic, but as a civilization, it is the most sophisticated advertising platform … ever,” Deagan said.

The problem is that most advertisers — save the Fortune 500 gang with teams of data scientists and analytics departments — basically are guessing on their Facebook spend, according to Amy Martin, a senior partner in marketing for JumpStart Inc. The Cleveland-based nonprofit recently awarded Deagan and his fellow CompanionLabs founders $250,000 to accelerate commercialization of a trio of plug-and-play apps that are designed to help companies optimize their digital marketing dollars.

“The larger advertisers and their agencies, they already know how to use these powerful capabilities, but where the gap exists is for a lot of mid-size or micro advertisers,” he said. “What our technology does is closes that gap and allows them to very easily start to use those capabilities better.”

Ten-month-old CompanionLabs, based in the Wallhaven Building in downtown Akron, launched its first app on April 3 with hopes to have 2,000 trial users by October. It met that goal April 18.

Deagan would not disclose the number of active users today or the percent of trial users who convert to subscribers, but he said more than 10,000 advertisers across 65 countries have used CompanionLabs’ apps to date. While advertisers can apply these tools in their Google or Amazon marketing strategies as well, he attributes the “high velocity” launch to the company’s Facebook origins. It was able to identify Facebook advertisers and, using the platform, “rapidly acquire them,” he said.

Another part of its secret sauce was making the tools as easy to use as possible.

“It is a radically different approach,” Deagan said. “Often when people are buying advertising or marketing technologies to improve their campaigns, it can take weeks — if not months — to get them implemented, up and running and see results.”

CompanionLabs “companion apps,” by contrast, are what Deagan called “bite-sized apps,” ones that are easy to install and deploy, and they provide value faster. The apps work with existing marketing systems, such as Ads Manager or Power Editor, and advertisers get campaign performance data in days.

The six-person company has raised a total of $500,000 in venture funds.

Neither Deagan nor the CompanionLabs team is new to the startup world. Members of the founding team — including CEO Bill Landers — were part of Knotice, an Akron marketing technology startup founded in 2003 that received funding from JumpStart in 2006. That company was sold in 2014 to New York-based marketing firm IgnitionOne.


To read the full story, visit Crain’s Cleveland Business.