Google Invests In Paid-Search Marketplace Trada

Google Ventures has led a Series C venture capital round with founding investor Foundry Group, infusing $5.75 million in paid-search marketplace Trada, the companies reported Wednesday.

Trada supports businesses and ad agencies that spend between $5,000 and $50,000 per month on paid-search campaigns running on Google, Yahoo and Bing. The marketplace plans to use the VC funds to accelerate international growth and diversify into other types of online advertising, such as display.

The plan to take the same model into display advertising doesn't have a firm timeline, but Niel Robertson, Trada's founder and chief executive officer, says to expect it soon. "The scale of the international market has grown too, past what we initially thought in a short amount of time," he says. "The investment will help us meet demand for telesales reps that need to be on the phone at 4:30 in the morning, Mountain Standard Time."

The VC investment also will help Trada support international companies and agencies from China to France, that want to run campaigns around the world. Five years ago, agencies gained more profit quicker. It seemed easy to scale and grow campaigns internationally in a short amount of time with less cash. About 25% of Trada's customers were agencies last month.

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By leveraging the skills of hundreds of paid-search experts, Trada enables time-strapped business owners and marketers to eliminate the hassle and cost of managing a paid-search campaign in-house. It will do the same with display advertising. In turn, Trada's paid-search experts work collaboratively and competitively on behalf of the business owners. Compensation is earned on a performance basis by generating profitable clicks and conversions for less than the businesses' budgets.

Rich Miner, Google Ventures partner, calls Trada's results to date "impressive." Since publicly launching in March, the number of businesses running campaigns in Trada's marketplace rose 300% to more than 200. About 27 agencies, up from 10 a few months ago at launch, have signed up to use Trada's marketplace. The number of paid-search experts supporting the marketplace has doubled to more than 500.

Miner joins Trada's board of directors, which includes Robertson, and Seth Levine, managing director of Foundry Group. Google Ventures' charter to invest in stand-alone businesses has great potential for growth, which Trada proved since launching four months ago.

Since March, Google Ventures also has invested in mobile payment startup Corduro, Internet game layer SVNGR, discovery platform Adimab, language learning platform English Central, Interactive content provider Pixazza, among others.

It's not known whether Google will gobble up Trada in the end, but Google Ventures isn't a feeder system for Google, Robertson says. The investment does not foreshadow something bigger -- like an acquisition -- later on, he says.

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