Today, Google is announcing a partnership with a NY-based company called Signpost, which will now run deals on the Google Offers website and in subscriber emails. Signpost, which has $1 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, Spark Capital and other angels, has been flying under the radar in the local deals space. The company recently tripled its employee base and now claims revenue has been growing at a rate of 100% month-over-month.
The company also recently announced a partnership with Nimble Commerce, and says it has other partnerships in the works as well.
According to Signpost CEO Stuart Wall, the company has shifted its business model since we covered them back in fall 2010. Now, it’s basically a marketing platform for small businesses, or what he calls an “AdSense for local commerce.”
For $100/month (15% of which goes to the publisher for commission), Signpost creates an e-commerce (and/or m-commerce) presence for its business customers, then works with them to create campaigns. Normally, these campaigns involve something of value that’s sent out – that is to say, an offer. Signpost gives the businesses access to its 1,200 partners, which now includes Google Offers, to run the campaigns.
Walls says that 95% of his business customers get a better CPM, CPC, and CPA, than they would have gotten on Yelp or AdWord’s local averages, because of its targeting capabilities. And Signpost customers seem to agree – 90% of the small businesses renew the service each month.
Last month, Wall says Signpost’s merchants received 8 million uniques across its publisher sites. The CPA for its customers is now around $12, he adds.
“Compare that with sites like Yelp,” (which has CPM’s around $600), says Wall. “There are a number of sites out there that charge on a CPM basis, which, if you actually do the math on what the CPA is, it can be north of $300. We think Yelp is in that category.”
The other problem with many local advertising platforms, explains Wall, is that they’re just driving impressions. In that case, while the number of people who see the offer may be high, the number of people who actually go visit the business is often “terrible,” he says – which is why closed loop transactions are key focus for Signpost.
The company now has content in 50 U.S. markets, not all of which have a Google Offers presence yet. But everywhere Google Offers is, Signpost is established.
“We do work with a number of flash sales sites,” Wall explains of the new deal. “I consider what Google Offers does as being in Groupon category. We only look to customers who drive high quality consumers for our small business customers, and we think Google Offers falls into that category. We’re excited to work with them,” he says.