My Startup: Percept
Percept is an independent, external and impartial digital media auditor, privately owned and funded by a team of proven digital advertising pioneers.
The company, lead by Tom Quick, work with a number of brands including Shelter, Marsh & Parsons, Zoopla and TSB.
According to the company, a Percept audit typically increases clients' ROI by at least 25%. Their software tools enable brands to improve their Structure & Settings, Keywords, Ad Copy / Creative, Ad Extensions, Budgets & Bids, Audiences & Behaviours, Tracking, and Landing Pages.
Founder: Tom Quick
We spoke to Tom to find out more about his new company...
Why did you start Percept?
I was approached by Google in 2014 on behalf of one of the largest advertisers in the world to help systematically benchmark the performance of their Adwords accounts. I soon realised the reporting tools available didn’t provide any insights into how well an account was set up and managed. As we know, the industry has lacked trust and transparency for some time, so Percept was created to provide advertisers and agencies with visibility and insight into their campaigns, coupled with the opportunity to use technology and data to deliver greater ROI.
Digital ad spend has grown so much, that senior marketers need to justify expenditure to boards who question performance, how well spend is being managed and whether opportunities to save money are being identified and acted on. This is apparent with in-house teams who are under pressure to consistently enhance performance, as well as brands who may have an eye on bringing functions in-house and wishing to quantify the opportunities it may bring. Similarly, agencies are under pressure to deliver the highest level of transparency to clients, partly as a strategy to avoid everything being shifted in-house.
Delivering this visibility involves digging deep into how ad platforms are deployed and configured. Traditionally, this has only been tackled in-depth and with nuance via manual processes that are inherently non-systematic, non-scalable, and don’t cover all the available data-points – thus very slow and expensive.
Percept aims to disrupt this sector with its advanced levels of software engineering, data processing, and statistics, combined with a highly skilled and talented team with the right sector experience. Our effective automation makes in-depth ‘under the hood’ assessments and rolling visibility available to advertisers and agencies who don’t want to pay the price tag associated with the ‘old guard’ approach.
Tell us more about the company?
Firstly, we combine software engineering and large scale data processing with human expertise. I have an academic background in Computer Science and AI, so I understand the limitations of AI. There are a lot of technology platforms out there which deploy AI as a tick-box exercise without any serious understanding or intent. We use our tech layer for the heavy-lifting and to automate everything, but we leave space for the ‘human touch’. We also bake some really sophisticated and nuanced industry expertise into our algorithms.
Secondly, the speed with which we can produce results and bring about positive change for our clients is another key differentiator. With the ‘old guard’ approach, which had a significant dependency on manual labour, it could take four to six weeks, if not longer, to produce analysis and generate insights and recommendations.
It would then take time on top of this to be actioned. We've managed to radically reduce this time for our clients as our software can produce a full data analysis and highlight opportunities within a matter of minutes – even on massive multi-market advertising accounts – enabling clients to gain new insights, take action to save money or drive high performance, quickly. Depending on client needs, they can either access this right away on a ‘self-service’ basis or via an optional consultancy layer, which bigger enterprise clients often require.
Where’s the business at right now?
Our product capabilities have advanced massively so we're able to provide deep analysis and recommendations across all the primary components of digital ad spend – search, social and display – while minimising dependency on humans shepherding the whole process.
We also have some fantastic new investors on board, including industry experts who have joined from agencies and brands themselves, and in one case a hugely successfully adtech SaaS platform. Having access to this wealth of expertise and knowledge is a fantastic asset to the business, which enables us to scale up our product, sales, and marketing activity.
What are your aims for the next year?
We have a brilliant product, a great team, a hot market, and great investors, so the focus will be to grow the business. This is something we will achieve by scaling our sales and marketing activity to attract new clients.
We also have an ambitious product roadmap, which will see Percept supporting more digital advertising platforms with high-impact, value-added features that understand the relationship between platform structure and performance to provide greater insights and drive tangible benefits.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting Percept off the ground?
Firstly, time. Everything took longer than planned, even when allowing in extra days as safety barriers. This was across the whole business, from recruiting, investment, product development, closing deals, and branding. I can see how start-up founders end up behaving like crazed hustlers, trying to move everything along – there’s definitely a balance to be struck.
Secondly, our product fit and value proposition. We serve advertisers outside of the traditional upper-echelons of high spend on brand-awareness, extending out to mid-sized agency clients, high-performance in-house teams, agencies, and other providers. We want to make sure we aren’t perceived as destroying the relationship between agencies and their client when in fact we’re able to help agencies deliver increased performance in a transparent way. By being clear about the benefits we bring we avoid this and any assumptions that we’re rooted in the old-fashioned way of doing things.
Why should more people be using Percept?
If you’re spending money on digital performance media to drive valuable outcomes, and want to drive those outcomes with better efficiency and ease, then you should be using Percept. Our clever technology and skilled team quickly highlight opportunities and help you stay on top of them, while providing clarity on how 3rd party performance media is run.
How much will it cost customers/clients? and why is it worth it?
It’ll cost a marginal fraction of the media spend being deployed, and will typically deliver returns an order of magnitude greater than the cost involved. We don’t charge unless we identify serious opportunities for better performance.