Has all the talk of regulations and privacy made ad tech firms a little more skittish about the kind of ad targeting they provide? Lest anyone think that contextual ad startup ADmantX was in the business of spying on anyone, as opposed to just interrupting the content of a webpage, in an announcement of its $2.8 million first round funding, the company felt a need to stress that its approach is strictly without using tracking cookies.
To online publishers, advertisers and other observers in the space, saying that your contextual targeting system is done without cookies that can track users from site-to-site is pretty redundant. Still, given the climate over the word “targeting” in an advertising context, it probably can’t hurt to emphasize the distinction.
ADmantX, which was spun off last year from contextual specialist Expert System, is in the same space as other established semantic ad providers, such as BuzzLogic, which just raised a $7.8 million third round, and Peer39, which signed a deal with supply-side platform The Rubicon Project late last year as a further enhancement to publishers.
There are some subtle differences between contextual and semantic advertising — the former looks serves ads around specific words, the latter examines the meaning, so that an article about car accidents, for example doesn’t show a car ad — both are expected to be of more interest to advertisers and publishers, even if the various battles over privacy and ad targeting peter out.
For the most part, major online publishers are still leery of allowing tracking cookies on their site to any great extent. Most publishers tell me that less than 10 percent of their revenue is derived from such ad units, which allows a marketer or ad network to track a consumer from site-to-site-to-site. Instead, publishers get most of their ad dollars from a mix of direct sales and contextual ads. Right now, that’s the market ADmantX is aiming its business at. As it reaches out to publishers with its system, Hartford, Conn-based ADmantX plans to use the proceeds of its first round, which was backed by Italy’s Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno, will be used to quickly grow the sales staff and marketing programs.
In the meantime, while ad tech firms in general have been benefiting from the rebound in online advertising and continued interest in, yes, cookie-based targeting, from investors. Over the past 12 months, ad tech providers like Turn raised $20 million in a fourth round funding, which was preceded by [x+1's] $10 million second round, eXelate’s $16 million second round, and European ad re-targeter MyThings, which secured a $6 million in a third round of funding round in 2010.