San Diego’s Covario Rides Wave of Search Engine Marketing
I didn’t really know what to expect when I sat down with Covario CEO Russ Mann recently over a lunch of fajitas and enchiladas. Many CEOs adopt a kind of taciturn presence to maintain their command authority, but words gush from Mann. Ask a question, and he responds at length. Yet the most-succinct explanation of Covario’s business and the potential market that Mann and co-founder Dema Slotin saw more than five years ago came when he was describing a typical Covario customer.
“Our clients are some of the largest companies in the world,” Mann says. “They may be operating 50 websites in 20 countries and they are paying for hundreds of thousands of search terms to lead prospective customers to their websites. They want to make sure that every single phrase works, and of course, they want to analyze which phrases and terms work best.”
And that, in a nutshell, is what Covario does. The three-year-old, venture-backed startup provides high-end analytical software and services for search engine marketing, or SEM, and search engine optimization, also known as SEO. Mann says an average client pays Covario from $100,000 to $200,000 a year; its Fortune 1,000 customers include Intel, Adobe and Procter & Gamble. If that seems pricey, Mann says Covario’s sophisticated analytics have helped some companies increase Web traffic such that their online profits surged between 30 and 300 percent. “Not their revenue,” Mann emphasizes. “Profitability.”
He explains that most of Covario’s clients “simply license our software to do the PPC (pay-per-click) and SEO work in-house, leveraging our software for analysis and optimization, or to better work with and keep track of the agency doing it for them. About 10 of our 65 clients outsource the entire buying and optimization work to us, and we in effect become the agency,” Mann says.
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