Home Commerce Topsort Raises $20 Million To Seize The Post-Cookie Market Opportunity This Year

Topsort Raises $20 Million To Seize The Post-Cookie Market Opportunity This Year

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The retail media ad tech startup Topsort announced a $20 million Series A investment round on Monday.

The 3-year-old company began looking for a potential investor and a new investment round in the back half of 2023.

“It was probably the worst time of the funding market,” Topsort Co-Founder and CEO Regina Ye told AdExchanger.

Still, Ye said, it was important to fuel the company’s growth in 2024. This year is expected to be critical in retail media and for potential post-cookie ad tech solutions.

Getting ‘sorted

Topsort was founded as a retail media infrastructure service. Retailers and online marketplaces could launch product listing ads and ad tech solutions for companies or sellers they carry.

Poshmark, for instance, has many used clothes sellers on its platform, most of whom aren’t savvy ad tech users – or even marketers at all. Topsort makes it easier for those sellers to set up advertising campaigns, budgets and KPIs.

Other clients include food delivery apps, classified listing marketplaces and traditional retailers, such as Cencosud, one of the largest Latin American store operators. Cencosud is a particularly important contract, too, considering Topsort’s new lead investor is Upload Ventures, a VC firm based in Mexico and Brazil that focuses on businesses in the region.

With grocery and convenience store chains in its client base, Topsort started to see brands and agencies approach them about paid placements with those retailers, Ye said. That formed the company’s ad network business. And it launched a data clean room product to run attribution or target ads based on customer first-party data.

Most clean rooms on the market “are not really clean,” she said. Google’s Ads Data Hub and the Amazon Marketing Cloud, the two biggies, have great data and advertising features, but mostly reserved for their own advertising services. Also, the data can’t be exported.

Ye said most of Topsort’s clients want similar capabilities but also to be able to enhance their own customer profiles and own the data. Even other open solutions, she said, such as LiveRamp, connect data back to their own identity solutions – which would be RampID. In contrast, Topsort eschews any customer data being retained by the tech middleware.

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Already crumbled

Topsort is built for a post-cookie world, even though third-party cookies remain ubiquitous in Chrome and are still incorporated into other retail media solutions.

Why not use cookies, since they’re useful and available?

For as long as Topsort has existed, the post-cookie focus for most of the advertising market has been to consolidate to walled gardens and other businesses with “alliances around first-party data.” Topsort takes a different approach, by tracking sales trends and purchases as they happen, but without attaching the data to an individual or creating patterns based on web browsing or social media.

Despite the temptation to use third-party cookies, Ye said, there’s “a vacuum in the market” for a company that truly isn’t built on cookies, and can help advertisers navigate post-cookie solutions for themselves.

Some call it a “migration” or “transition,” she said. “There’s a lot of this happening in the market right now.”

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