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Initial Coverage of Connectual Launch in MediaPost

Monday, April 13, 2009 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Press Coverage

Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost was the first to cover today's launch. Here's her feature story...

Rep Matchmaking Model Emerges For Marketing
by Laurie Sullivan

Aaron Goldman could become the matchmaker for brands looking to build out ad campaigns on a variety of platforms. The 10-year digital marketing veteran and ex-Resolution Media executive on Monday plans to unveil a rep firm that sources advertising and marketing services for free.

The rep firm, dubbed Connectual, will offer a range of services, from digital marketing, to offline and online integration of campaigns. While services are no charge to the clients, the service companies foot the bill.

It's a classic business model that has been around for years straight from the electronics industry. The advertising market also has its share of representation firms through agencies, but few become the conduit or facilitator between digital and traditional marketing firms to support all the client's needs.

Five years ago, the marketing and advertising industries might not have accepted the rep business model. "When times were great and we grew between 20% and 30% year-over-year, you didn't need outside resources bringing you more deals," Goldman said. "You had all the business you could handle and wanted to control the message of your brand."

The industry isn't seeing that kind of growth, and service companies are willing to relinquish a little control in exchange to get in front of decision makers. And there's clearly a need. On Connectual's Web site, Goldman thanks those who contributed to the launch. A Twitter link also suggests the rep company has followers.

Goldman's long-term vision to build out technology platforms that can help find qualified services will lead the company into social networks. Think request for proposals (RFPs) in the 21st century. "We can create a Yelp for agencies where marketers can go and search a database to access a list," Goldman said. "Not a list that tells you who has the most billings or won the most awards, but one that shows the top 20 agencies and client-satisfaction scores."

Similar to Yelp's restaurant ratings, Connectual's platform will tabulate scores and update in real time. While a handshake and smile might have been the way to build relationships in the past, technology platforms and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are clearly the future, Goldman said.

Today, nearly half of U.S. online adults read ratings and reviews at least once a month in 2008, and 19% post them, according to Forrester Research. The research firm said nearly twice as many read reviews compared with 2007.

Reading peer recommendations has become important when making purchasing decisions, even for businesses.

Connectual already has clients. Both Chicago-based Resolution Media and Elevate Studios' Extension Digital division -- as well as Atlanta-based Cardlytics, which lets companies advertise through banks -- have signed on to tap Connectual's services. Another 10 to 15 remain in the queue.

As for the advertisers looking for marketing agencies, Goldman declined to provide details, but said he's been in ongoing talks with about 20 companies to find the best agencies to support campaigns.


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