Spongecell Raises $10.5M To Bring Creative And Media Closer Together

spongeTailoring individual messages to someone based on past behavior is easier said than done, since media and creative usually operate independently.

Spongecell wants to fix some of the issues stymying dynamic creative optimization (DCO) at scale in the programmatic space, and has raised a $10.5 million growth round in combined debt and equity financing from Safeguard Scientifics and Pivotal Capital, to help it do so.

The funds will go toward research and development, product engineering and increasing the penetration of its self-serve platform among agencies and brands, according to Spongecell CEO Ben Kartzman.

DCO’s scale problem goes back to the historic divisions in the media planning and execution process.

“You see [instances where] brands have access to CRM, but it’s not hooked up to a DMP and they’re still sending all of their customers the same creative,” Kartzman said. Spongecell is a member of an IAB working group to develop a DCO ad standard.

“The onus is on companies like us and our partners to ensure there’s an open standard where DSPs and those responsible for buying media set themselves up to accept and properly ingest creative based on these standards.” 

Recent deals such as Salesforce’s purchase of Krux will hopefully help paid media converge with first-party data, Kartzman said. Agency consolidation, like Dentsu buying Merkle and gyro, could also help unify these areas.

Spongecell sees growth in creative agency clients who use its platform in a self-serve capacity to set rules around which piece of creative is served where or which connections to data platforms get facilitated, Kartzman said.

“People want to know how their creative is performing in real time, rather than wait three months to see which creative drove results,” he said. “The goal is also to get more predictive and saying, ‘These are the three targets you should consider for this creative.’”

Spongecell has a programmatic creative platform, CORE, where buyers can log in to do simple tasks like manage ad creative or grab an ad tag.

But a number of agencies such as Mindshare integrate Spongecell’s DCO tool into their programmatic solutions – alongside their data management platform, ad server or demand-side platform.

“Some of our competitors who are ad servers try to sell the ad server first, but we’re hyperfocused on the creative,” Kartzman said. “In a world where most enterprise customers use DoubleClick, we wanted to be the largest independent company that focused on creative workflow, but also address the hardcore technical DCO side across mobile, display and video.”

Spongecell, which was founded a decade ago, employs about 100. Although most of its new financing will go toward R&D, it’s also investing in sales engineers who can translate technical complexities of client deployments to product development.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks Kelly. Getting content more personalized in real-time seems to be the way forward. It would be awesome to see a demo video/ gif/ snippet as part of these articles.