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With a total $60 million in venture backing behind it, Conductor plans to fully reposition from its SEO specialist origins.

Conductor Raises $27 Million To Build Up Web Presence Management Profile

| 11:23 am

Conductor’s $27 Million fourth round funding will largely be devoted to building up its content strategy software offering, Searchlight, which serves as the backbone of the company’s stated expertise in Web Presence Management.

Conductor’s Seth Dotterer

The proceeds of this month’s venture capital round, which brings five-year-old Conductor’s total funding to $60 million, will go towards supplying the army of engineers and marketing around its Searchlight software, which looks to help businesses figure out what sort of online content and information tends to attract consumers.

Catalyst Investors led the round with the support of existing investors, FirstMark Capital, Matrix Partners and Investor Growth Capital, as well as new investor, Blue Cloud Ventures.

The capital will also be put towards furthering the New York company’s oft-stated goal of ending brands’ reliance on traditional paid advertising. Instead, Conductor, which began its journey by focusing on improving marketers’ organic search results, is wrapped up in the helping grow the discipline of Web Presence Management.

Finding Consumers And Marketers

In essence, WPM (aka, “Digital Presence Management”) can be defined as the set of solutions that ensure that a marketer’s online information and content is detailed, accurate, up-to-date, and easily discoverable online. Secondly, a successful WPM program also delivers on the promise that everything from store hours to addresses will appear seamlessly across all interactive channels, including web pages, desktop, mobile maps, and social media sites.

For Seth Dotterer, Conductor’s VP of Marketing, the funding is a validation of its stance as a practitioner of WPM, a discipline that is still emerging.

“Investors and marketers alike recognize the need for a new kind of marketing, as consumers are getting increasingly overloaded with emails and simply avoiding display,” Dotterer said. “Instead, they are seeking out their own interests; effective marketing is about getting found in those moments.”

The Road From SEO

When it was founded in 2010, Conductor initially positioned itself as a guide for marketers’ search engine optimization. Overtime, those abilities began to extend into content discovery. Ultimately, Conductor’s proposition to clients was that it could help strengthen their connection to consumers, particularly as shoppers’ means of discovery started to include commenting and searching on social networks.

After all, measuring whether a person clicked on a banner ad doesn’t tell them much. Plus, the spirit of branding involves directing a regular flow of information between a marketer and consumers over the long term. That’s something traditional online ad models were not easily equipped to do, since those formats were initially intended to drive immediate call-to-actions and direct responses. Context and brand affinity have only become part of online marketers’ demands recently, mostly through native advertising and content marketing. For Conductor, understanding SEO and the way online influences the purchase path provided a straight line between retailers and individuals.

But none of it matters to marketers unless a service company like Conductor can provide clear, actionable metrics. Again, its search beginnings have helped it demonstrate that it does have a value proposition and has, so far, protected its WPM model from being dismissed as just another meaningless ad tech acronym.

Performance Models Are Not Enough

Conductor’s key differentiator is its ability to use the science of performance-based marketing models associated with search and adapt it to the more “artful” brand affinity framework.

The company estimates that 94 percent of internet traffic is not available through paid media. That number sounds dubious until you consider the average clickthrough rate on banner ads is less than 1 percent (and in most cases, it’s a lot less).

Realizing that search went only halfway in terms of offering clients full value for their spending — Conductor may inveigh against “paid media,” but as it operates under a SaaS revenue model, it certainly does get compensated for access to its software — the company realized that performance metrics only matter after a consumer has made their decision. It can’t do much to inspire and encourage consumers to decide in favor of a particular marketer.

Advice On Slacklines, Recipes

That’s where WPM comes in. Conductor says its Searchlight Content Mapping system, for example, can identify and predict what kinds of blog posts, images, and other information about a business will spur a positive reaction in certain kinds of consumers: a housewares retailer can best reach the profile of a “home chef” with recipes that will impress friends; or an upscale clothing store may want to reach younger men by teaching them how to put on a tie; or an outdoor gear seller could spark interest with new adventurers by providing advice on “how to slackline.”

Among the many challenges Conductor still faces in gaining acceptance of WPM over the usual ad strategies is explaining its story to agencies and marketers who are more used to the episodic nature of campaigns. But as the media landscape becomes more fragmented and the consumers’ use of social media more ingrained in determining their shopping habits, the company could find itself at the forefront of those trying to forge a new method of building brands’ business.

Of course, an additional $27 million from bankers will help them spread that message as it and other companies in the space pull in more “earned media” converts.