Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Resonate Raises $22 Million for “Values” Ads

The Web ad industry has gotten crazily complicated. But advertisers’ goals remain as simple as ever: Put their messages in front of people who will care about them.

Ad tech firm Resonate has a simple pitch along those lines: It says it can figure out what different groups of Internet users care about, and where to find them on the Web.

The Reston, Va.-based start-up has been at it for four years, and just raised a big series B round led by Revolution Growth, the new fund led by former AOLers Steve Case, Ted Leonsis and Donn Davis. Resonate won’t announce the total amount of the raise, but a person familiar with the company says it’s $22 million. Earlier investors like Greycroft Partners, LLC and iNovia Capital put another $7 million into the company, and some of them have reupped, as well.

Lots of ad tech companies promise to target Web surfers based on their online behavior, and some are now saying they can tie in offline behavior, like voting records (!), as well.

For now, at least, Resonate is avoiding that kind of targeting. Instead, it recruits panels of Internet users, asks them to complete comprehensive surveys on their likes, values, etc., and tracks their surfing patterns. Then it uses that data to figure out where to find people who will be most receptive to particular pitches.

The idea: While marketers might want to advertise a new light salad dressing on a food site that caters to women, Resonate might figure out that a sports site with a big male audience would be a better bet.

Resonate started out selling itself to political advertisers, and CEO Bryan Gernert says he’ll be doing a bunch of that this year. But he says the company is primarily focused on brand advertising, and counts McDonald’s, Verizon and Toyota as clients. Last year, Resonate did “north of $10 million” in revenue, he says.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus