- Investors are pouring money into advertising, media, and marketing startups.
- They’re trying to capitalize on changing consumer habits, marketers’ need to see their ads are working, and more.
- Check out these 17 pitches to see how these startups sold their visions to VCs and other investors.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Investors are pouring money into startups that are trying to disrupt advertising, media, and marketing.
Insider has been tracking these startups that are using tech to capitalize on changing consumer media habits and marketers’ desire to reach new audiences and ensure their ads are working.
Check out these pitch decks that they’ve used to sell their vision and raise millions from PE and VC investors.
They range from tools that measure digital ad performance to platforms for people seeking out online entertainment.
Contextual advertising has become a buzzy area in adtech as the sector shifts away from the precision-targeting and tracking of individual users.
Founded seven years ago by two former Googlers, Seedtag specializes in contextual advertising – using data and artificial intelligence to place ads within relevant publisher content that users should be more likely to interact with.
Seedtag just raised a $40 million funding round, led by Oakley Capital.
Dan Pantelo started a performance marketing agency in college and pivoted to software after discovering that creative testing was the most important and time-consuming part of making ads.
Today, his marketing technology startup Marpipe claims to help advertisers figure out which ads perform best by automatically testing hundreds of variations.
Marpipe just raised $8 million in Series A for a total of $10 million raised to date.
Investors are pouring millions into platforms like Catalant Technologies that connect companies to independent advertising and consulting professionals, a need that’s growing as people quit in the pandemic.
Catalant has raised more than $100 million by pitching itself as an alternative to consulting giants like McKinsey.
Ad agency vets Grant McDougall, Liza Nebel, and Matt Gross started BlueOcean in 2019, when they saw an opening to use machine learning to simplify market research and tell marketers how they and their competitors were performing. Now, they count Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Bloomingdale’s, and Diageo as clients.
The software-as-a-service startup just raised $15 million in Series A funding from private equity firm Insight Partners.
Data management tools
Google and Apple’s moves to clamp down on third-party cookies and the rise of online shopping have advertisers clamoring for help managing all their customer data so they can effectively market to them.
One such company is 4-year-old Amperity, which sells software that clients like Starbucks, Patagonia, and Crocs use to manage stats from sales, email, e-commerce, and loyalty card programs.
Amperity has raised $100 million in its Series D from existing investors including Tiger Global Management, Declaration Partners, and Madrona Venture Group, for a total of $187 million.
Out-of-home advertising platform
Outdoor advertising is coming back after being crushed during the pandemic, and adtech startup OneScreen.ai is hoping to cash in with a platform for brands to search, buy, run and measure their out-of-home ad campaigns.
OneScreen just raised $1.2 million in pre-seed funding in a round led by Florida-based fund TechFarms Capital with other investors including HubSpot cofounders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Wayfair’s alumni fund Wayfund, Lola.com CEO Mike Volpe, and BuySellAds.com CEO Todd Garland.
Tracer started in 2015 as a unit of Gary Vaynerchuk’s ad agency VaynerMedia that automatically collects and organize data that isn’t personally identifiable. Led by Tracer co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Nicholson, it also offers free consulting services. It started by helping VaynerMedia oversee hundreds of millions in ad buys for clients like Oreo maker Mondelez; today, clients include other ad agencies like Labelium; Condé Nast; and pharma giant Sanofi.
Tracer recently raised $9.9 million in seed funding led by big names like former Walmart and Amazon exec Marc Lore and NBA star Kevin Durant’s firm Thirty Five Ventures.
Building lifetime customers
As people do more of their shopping online, marketers are trying to get them to become repeat customers.
Former Paypal and Facebook product and data analytics manager Emad Hasan says his startup Retina helps brands like Dollar Shave Club and Madison Reed acquire and keep customers by building lookalike audiences based on companies’ order history and shopper attributes.
It just raised $8 million in Series A funding from Alpha Intelligence Capital, Vertical Venture Partners, and others.
Nick Jordan founded 5-year-old Narrative to let advertisers buy data without the need for data brokers like Epsilon and Acxiom that can be known for not disclosing their data sources or what cut they take.
The marketing-tech firm makes money by taking a cut of data sales and through larger software as a Service (or SaaS) contracts where marketers pay monthly fees for data.
Narrative in September raised $8.5 million in a Series A funding round led by G20 Ventures and which included Glasswing Ventures and MathCapital, bringing its total funding to $14 million.
Support for online sellers
Adtech vet Paul Palmieri joined Tradeswell as CEO based on his experience as a VC investor, where he saw dozens of DTC companies whose businesses weren’t scalable.
Tradeswell is a SaaS platform that consolidates brands’ marketing, retail, inventory, logistics, forecasting, lifetime value and financial information. Its pitch is that it gives brands insights so they know what to sell to whom, where, and at what price.
US e-commerce is set to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, according to a recent report by Insider Intelligence’s eMarketer, and Tradeswell says it can help traditional and DTC brands save millions of dollars in outsourced contracts and boost their sales.
Tradeswell recently raised $3.3 million in seed round funding from Signalfire and Construct Capital.
Ad performance tools
BrandTotal is a marketing analytics company that pitches advertisers on the premise that most digital and social media ads are now “dark,” or visible only to the people they’re targeting.
It joins other businesses that promise greater visibility into digital advertising such as Pathmatics, which measures how much brands spend on Facebook and other platforms.
BrandTotal co-founder Alon Leibovich said the company uses AI to track ads and help advertisers understand their competitors’ strategies.
This pitch has helped BrandTotal win business from big brands like L’Oréal and raise $12 million in a Series B funding round, bringing its total funding to $20 million.
Canada’s INcapital Ventures led the latest round along with Maor Investments, Glilot Capital Partners, Flint Capital, KDC Media Fund, and FJ Labs.
E-commerce advertising services
Brands are increasingly becoming advertising platforms, giving rise to a cottage industry of adtech companies that help marketers build their own ad businesses.
One such firm is 9-year-old adtech firm Adzerk, which is rebranding as Kevel.
EMarketer reports that e-commerce advertising will be a $17 billion market this year. Retailers like Walgreens, Walmart, and Instacart have led the charge, but Kevel sees an opportunity for other types of brands to build ad businesses of their own.
In December, Kevel raised $11 million in a Series A round led by Fulcrum Equity with Commerce Ventures, MathCapital and Food Retail Ventures also participating.
Targeted ad tools
Google’s and Apple’s moves to clamp down on privacy and digital-ad targeting have been a boon for startups trying to find workarounds like identity solutions.
One such firm is ID5, a European startup that helps advertisers find audiences to target and make sure people don’t repeatedly see the same ads. It makes money from licensing its ID to adtech companies for a monthly fee that ranges from $5,000 to $30,000, CEO Mathieu Roche said. The company gives away its technology to publishers to grow adoption of the ID.
ID5 closed a $6 million Series A funding round in March from Alliance Entreprendre, Progress Ventures, and 360 Capital Partners. The 4-year-old company has raised a total of $7.5 million.
Privacy compliance help
New privacy regulations are springing up around the globe, and publishers and marketers are turning to technology companies to stay on the right side of these laws and avoid huge fines.
One of the companies capitalizing on the increased focus on data privacy is Sourcepoint. Founded by adtech vets Ben Barokas and Brian Kane, the US-based technology company has a platform that lets publishers and advertisers get legal consent from people to use their data.
Sourcepoint recently raised $17 million in additional funding, led by new investor Arrowroot Capital, bringing its total funding to $47.8 million since it launched in 2015.
Real-time market research
Agency veteran Matt Britton pitches his consumer intelligence startup Suzy as an always-on digital assistant like Siri or Alexa for marketers. It has a consumer panel that lets marketers conduct surveys and research on subjects like product development and ad effectiveness testing.
H.I.G. Growth Partners, an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, led the round, with Rho Capital Partners, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Foundry Group, and Triangle Peak Partners also participating.
Livestreaming tools for creators
Livestreaming startup Restream was founded in 2015 to help gaming content creators grow their reach by livestreaming to Twitch and YouTube at the same time.
It’s since expanded to serve musicians, politicians, influencers, publishers, non-profit organizations, and other businesses and says its goal is to democratize broadcasting. Restream said half its 2.5 million users are now non-gamers. Most of its users are nonpaying, but it sells subscriptions from $19 to $299 per month that come with features like the ability to record streams and access to more customer support.
Restream announced in August that it had raised $50 million in fresh funding from investors including Sapphire Ventures and Insight Partners.
Video streaming subscriptions
CuriosityStream is a 5-year-old streaming service founded by former Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks. It went public in fall 2020 through a reverse merger with Software Acquisition Group, a SPAC led by Jonathan Huberman, who formerly led video adtech firm Ooyala.
CuriosityStream is differentiated from other streaming services in that it focuses on factual content like documentaries and features, with more than 3,100 titles available. It reported 13 million paying subscribers buying monthly and yearly subscriptions ranging from $3 a month to $70 a year.
The deal with Software Acquisition Group gave CuriosityStream $180 million in cash.
Reaching online sports fans
Overtime wants to be the next ESPN, but for social media.
Overtime captures game highlights through people it pays to film events and also creates original programming and events. It distributes content mainly on social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Its core business is making money from ads, sponsorships, and merchandise, and projects making $200 million in annual revenue by 2024.
It recently raised $80 million from investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, rapper Drake, and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.