Google Ventures backs Trada’s crowdsourced approach to search marketing

Trada, a Boulder, Colo. startup allowing businesses to tap into a pool of experts to manage their search advertising campaigns, just announced that it has raised a $5.75 million funding round led by Google Ventures.

The idea behind Trada is that instead of trying to run a search advertising campaign themselves, or relying on a single consultant, businesses are able to take a crowdsourced approach, where a group of search advertising experts can contribute their knowledge. So a Trada customer creates a campaign, specifying things like the product being sold and the daily budget, then experts can decide to join the campaign. Each expert generates their own ad groups, search keywords to advertise on, and ads. The advertiser only pays for clicks and conversions.

Since the public launch in March, Trada has grown dramatically, said founder and chief executive Niel Robertson (pictured in a screenshot from Trada’s demo video above). It’s now running more than 200 ad campaigns, with an average customer now spending about $5,000 a month. The number of experts in the system has doubled to 500. Robertson said he wants experts to be able to make a full-time income from Trada if they choose. At least one expert is already approaching that level, eh said.

The funding will primarily be spent in three areas, Robertson said — new tools for the ad agencies who work with Trada, international expansion, and support for display advertising. Trada’s crowdsourced model isn’t limited to search advertising, he argued. Sure, the ad types are different, as are the experts you might want to bring in, but the basic idea transfers into the display world (especially since Trada’s search advertising platforms, Google, Yahoo, and Bing, support display ads as well).

The display advertising service will probably roll out sometime in the third quarter of this year, Robertson said. And Trada probably won’t stop there. He said the model is “replicable across any kind of system performance-based advertising,” and particularly makes sense if the system has “a lot of dials,” in other words if it’s complicated enough that customers would want to crowdsource their campaign management. Facebook advertising is one example. The vision is for Trada to become the place where a business can come to manage all their online advertising needs.

Google Ventures’ Rich Miner is joining Trada’s board of directors. Robertson said he actually knew Miner because they’re both on the board of another startup, VigLink. Robertson said he’s already impressed with Google’s ability to “separate church and state” by not forcing its venture investments to focus on Google’s technology and platforms. (In other words, Trada plans to continue supporting advertising on Bing and Yahoo.)

Trada has now raised a little less than $8 million. Previous investor Foundry Group also participated in the round.

For more of Robertson’s perspective, check out a column he wrote for VentureBeat about the three charts that encapsulate his knowledge as a startup CEO.