TripleLift, the native advertising technology platform for the visual web that’s ‘making the internet better (ed: and prettier) for everyone’, announced that it has closed its $4 million Series A round of funding. The investment comes on the heels of TripleLift being named by 212 NYC and The New York Times Ad Tech Startup of the Year, a finalist in AdWeek’s Startup of the Year, as well as being recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 5 Companies Transforming Advertising.
As native advertising continues to fuel the growth of digital media, TripleLift has been one of the pioneers of this shift, working with Fortune 1000 brands like Gap, General Mills, Kohler, and Nissan.
The round was led by True Ventures, with participation from existing investors, including iNovia Captial, NextView Ventures, MESA+, Liberty City Ventures, Social Starts, Laconia Ventures, the Social Internet Fund, and several prominent ad tech angels.
A New York company through and through, TripleLift is a product of NY’s own ER Accelerator. Today we hear from Eric Berry, CEO and co-founder of Triple Lift, who tells us about the latest round, and the company’s plans moving forward.
Tell us about your product.
TripleLift is the native advertising platform built for the visual web. Leveraging pioneering cross-device and computer vision technology, TripleLift seamlessly integrates a brand’s most engaging images alongside contextually relevant content, across any device, at scale. Founded in 2012, TripleLift is credited with developing an effective alternative to traditional banner advertising and introduced the industry’s first programmatic exchange for premium native inventory. The use of big, beautiful imagery to tell brand stories has delivered meaningful interaction and engagement for many of the world’s leading brands including Gap, General Mills, Kohler, Nissan, and Victoria’s Secret
How is it different?
TripleLift introduced the first, true alternative to banner ads with the launch of its native advertising platform specifically designed for the visual web. We’ve seen more and more sites systematically move away from text-heavy layouts and leverage big, beautiful imagery as the focus of their site. As this visual web becomes the new standard, publishers are foregoing banners and seeking more integrated native advertising experiences. We recognized that marketers now had an opportunity to engage their customers through stunning visuals versus text-heavy, disruptive ad units. Our platform leverages state-of-the-art computer vision technology to systematically share and display a brand’s image across any site on any device.
Like other forms of native ads, TripleLift’s ads are delivered within a site’s editorial stream. But unlike the text-based content being labeled native, TripleLIft’s content is completely image-driven. TripleLift leverages a brand’s most enticing images and creates visually stunning ads that are more likely to be noticed and shared. And because images are not unique to any one publisher, it’s completely scalable. Advertisers can even buy these ads programmatically.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re targeting Fortune 1000 brands across all verticals that are currently engaged in digital marketing. The market opportunity for TripleLift’s native ad product is huge; Internet display advertising grew 32% in 2013 and is projected to be worth $28 billion by 2017.
Native advertising is big right now, and you’re right there at the forefront. Where do you see it going?
Native advertising will become less of a buzzword and more of a disciplined advertising strategy that will slowly but surely put an end to the banner ad. The future of the web is about delivering customized, engaging experiences that deliver real value to consumers. Publishers are already doing this by adopting more visually friendly sites that appeal to viewers increasingly consuming content on mobile devices. If banner blindness was a major challenge before, mobile has essentially made the banner obsolete. But as long as there is a web, there will be advertising. Instead of being disruptive, brands will integrate their message directly into a publisher’s site, but it will be valuable and contextually relevant. As long as advertisers are transparent, content-driven ads that are natively integrated into the user experience will be the standard advertising method.
What’s your business model?
We sell native ad inventory across a host of publishers and run a native advertising exchange.
What was the funding process like?
TripleLift has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. As a result, there was a lot of inbound VC interest, making the process a little simpler for us. In the end, we had a great relationship with True Ventures – an existing investor who firmly believes in the mission behind the company and who has been exceptionally supportive of us as entrepreneurs – so we decided to move ahead with them.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our existing investors are firm believers in the vision – beautiful advertising for the visual web. We’ve seen tremendous interest from advertisers and publishers, and that spoke for itself. How often do publishers email an advertising technology company and tell them how beautiful their ads are? We actually see that all the time.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are focused on delivering visual ad experiences. However, we will explore ways to integrate video into the user experience, but without damaging the integrity of a big, beautiful ad. We also expect to grow the team across all departments.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We have a team of people who helped design and build some of the largest advertising technology companies today, including AppNexus, Turn, MediaMath, Yodle, and more. We understand the challenges of what we were doing, as well as how to demonstrate real success for our clients, well in advance. Tackling an industry that we really understood was a big help – both for fundraising as well as actually building our company.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re expanding all parts of business – engineering, sales and publisher relations. We want to help move the web away from banner ads towards a beautiful, integrated form of advertising – and that’s a huge challenge. We’re really excited to build a company that can actually make the web a better place!