London based adtech startup Spirable has closed a £6M Series A. The round was led by Smedvig Capital, with existing backers Frontline Ventures, Downing Ventures and 24 Haymarket also participating.
The startup is one of several playing in the customized video ads space — offering a platform that simplifies and scales video ad creation by enabling brands and advertisers to combine video templates with creative and data sources to automate the creation and delivery of scores of personalized marketing messages.
Spirable says its platform, which launched in 2014, is now used by more than 50 customers. Campaigns have run across 75+ countries, with more than 100M personalised videos distributed since launch.
Its most successful industries to date are CPG (consumer packaged goods), travel and telco, according to co-founders Dave and Ger O’Meara.
On the travel front, they give the example of a Deutsche Bahn ‘No Need to Fly’ campaign that used dynamic video to show a location-sensitive side by side comparison of flight costs juxtaposed with cheaper train trips to local beauty spots — which Spirable claims achieved a 397% increase in click throughs; a 849% performance increase; and 59% reduction in cost per click vs the control.
Another example they cite is a Vodafone campaign to promote two own brand smartphone models which integrates multiple data feeds (such as contextual weather and date data) with creative assets in order to dynamically spotlight different features of the devices. The personalized marketing messages were served across Facebook, YouTube and Display channels via APIs baked into the platform.
From five video templates the tech automated the creation of more than five and a half thousand “unique” videos, tweaked to be more relevant to the targeted viewers.
On that particular campaign, Spirable says Vodafone saw sales of its own-brand devices increase by 100%. While ad performance increased by up to 50%.
“We can use all the targeting available in Facebook and layer this with contextual live data like the weather, live sports scores etc. So if we know someone is in London (via geo-targeting via Facebook), we can pull the local weather for that location and tailor the video to people in that audience and also update the video when a goal is scored in a match by a team that the audience supports,” they explain. “Once set up the whole process if fully automated. When the weather, sports data etc change the videos update and change.”
As well as automating serving up personalized ads, the platform provides performance reports on the backend, and uses machine learning technology to optimize ad creative to boost engagement.
The startup notes it’s been a Facebook Marketing Partner for more than two years.
The privacy implications of such highly targeted ads are — or should be — plain.
Among the laundry list of data sources that Spirable’s platform lets advertisers plug in to automate “personalized” ads are “CRM data” which it says includes personal data, purchase data, website browsing, service usage data and preferences; “social audience data”, including behavioral data, audience persona, interests, preferences and intents; and “contextual” signals such as store locations, weather (including pollen and UV levels), markets and stock levels live spots, trending events, pricing, time & date, live travel data, Google traffic data and supermarket wi-fi data.
So, for example, a parent who recently logged into a supermarket’s wi-fi network to check their Facebook account and was tracked lingering near shelves of diapers might find themselves being served video ads for a discount on girlie pink baby products at a nearby store.
The sheer volume of data integrations Spirable offers is one of the areas it claims sets its platform apart from competitors — name-checking Clinch and Idomoo as its main rivals in personalized video ads.
“Spirable has an unparalleled amount of data integrations to uniquely personalise video ads in real-time,” it says, further claiming Idomoo “doesn’t talk about live data and pre-render ads and upload to Facebook — so there is a lack of data-driven pipelines”.
Other areas where it reckons its approach stands out vs the competition is because it’s offering a ‘self-serve’ platform — meaning advertisers and brands can use it to “create, scale and optimise personalised video in-house”, without the need for specialist teams or agencies trained in video effects software (such as After Effects) to make use of the platform.
The video ad building process is also “modular” and “100% customisable” — vs the two named rivals not supporting layer level manipulation, meaning it’s less easy for their users to make changes on the fly to optimize ads.
Another claimed differentiator is that Spirable’s platform is cross-channel — with support for “all major social, email, messenger and display channels”.
It says the Series A funding will go on expanding the business in the US, with a plan to ramp up spending there on sales, customer support and marketing. Product development will also get investment.
“We have an exciting product roadmap of new features that will enable us to reach our vision of making video ads as engaging and useful as any other content a person sees on digital. This requires investment to scale up our engineering and product teams,” the co-founders tell TechCrunch.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Joe Knowles, principal at Smedvig Capital, added: “Spirable is a critical enabler of personalised video advertising, one of the major trends in video advertising today. Every marketer wants to use video in a more personalised way. But so far, slow and expensive content creation has been a barrier to mass adoption. Spirable’s Software as a Service removes this barrier and makes real time, automated video personalisation at scale a reality.
“Having tracked the business for over a year, we are excited to work with Ger, Dave and the high-quality team they are building at Spirable.”