Moontoast Raises Series B For Rich Social Ads

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marcus-whitneyMoontoast has snagged a $5 million Series B round to support its social advertising product, which aims to remove barriers to engagement on Facebook with richer interaction capabilities. The three-year-old company, based in Nashville and Boston, will use the money to further develop Moontoast’s Social Activation Engine, and to hire up in biz dev, sales and client services.

Among the brands using Moontoast to build rich ad content for Facebook are Lexus, Nike, Lady Antebellum, Time Inc. and Simon & Schuster.

Prior to today's Series B, the company raised $6 million in 2011, led by The Martin Companies, LLC of Nashville, and other prior investors.

According to CTO Marcus Whitney, Moontoast campaigns have boosted purchase conversion rates by 25% or more -- and lead generation conversion rates by 70% or more.

Whitney spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How is Moontoast changing the way brands advertise on Facebook?

MARCUS WHITNEY: We specialize in being a social rich media company. We maximize social ROI for rich media ads and brands come to us because they are committed to make a smash in social. Our social activation engine allows them to make transactional and interactional ad posts in the Facebook news feed. The app lives in the feed. Everything occurs right there. It doesn’t kick you off to a supplemental website, so there is no interruption in the Facebook experience.

The app also allows you to [do] lead generation and…launch activities where people can upload information and content to share.

You are launching this service with a sizable Lexus campaign. What was Lexus doing on Facebook before?

Lexus was doing the standard sharing photos, links to their site, etc. This was stuff that most any brand can and is doing. Most of the time these things didn’t work on mobile devices and we wanted to really up the returns they got there because, let’s face it, we are all going mobile and the campaigns need to follow the people. And Lexus and all of our clients wanted to have this capability of interacting with video and signing up for mailers all in-feed but Facebook just didn’t have the tools.

Is your platform only a Facebook product?

At the moment it is just a Facebook-based service and we are exploring other channels.

We know that other social sites have great potential but we see Facebook as the most fleshed out and fruitful thus far, so we wanted to really build out the product there first. The administrative panel has 15 different apps that clients can customize fairly easily and can even post directly from the app and without a designer. The service can be turn key or they can work with Moontoast to create very individual experiences like what we are doing with Lexus.

So what does the next quarter look like for Moontoast?

We are a product company so our position is to have and build the best product on the market.

We have 20 apps to roll out every week or two in this quarter and we hope to really get the attention of a whole range of companies. We are working with agencies to build better tools for them to do their jobs and we are working with brands that want something unique to give their social campaigns a different feel.

You are a Preferred Marketing Developer with Facebook. Can you explain what it is like to work with them?

Facebook's roots are experimental and it has gotten to where it is today is being very data driven and taking risks. Being a PMD put us in the place that we understand the platform and respect the resources and educational tools available from Facebook to do our best work. Things became better for us after becoming a PMD.

I have to ask – Why "Moontoast"?

That is a fair question. We were in our early days talking with our lead investor, who is very engaged with the company, and during the seed stage we were tossing around names. He loved "Moontoast" because he said we are either headed to the moon or we were toast. And I think that explains just how much we have on the line and are behind the product we make.

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