PebblePost Raises $25 Million To Push Direct Mail Further Into Programmatic

PebblePost, a startup pioneering programmatic direct mail, said Tuesday it had secured a $25 million Series C funding round to integrate with the existing programmatic ecosystem.

The new investment was led by Advance Venture Partners and brings PebblePost’s total funding to almost $50 million.

PebblePost works by retargeting online browsers with direct mail offers, so someone who clicked through a retailer’s product pages could get a pamphlet offering deals on those items.

The company has a data onboarding service to match online identifiers like cookies and mobile device IDs to its archive of home addresses, which is augmented by data from companies like LiveRamp and Experian.

“Nowadays, if you’re trying to capture intent, it happens online with browsing and shopping research,” said Lewis Gersh, PebblePost’s founder and CEO.

With the new funding, PebblePost will develop its connections to the existing programmatic ecosystem, including a DMP partner and potential integrations with DSPs, Gersh said. The company also will invest in data science for attribution to demonstrate the value of direct mail compared to the relatively easy last-click measurement applied to online retargeting.

The luggage retailer Tumi saw a surprising connection between ecommerce browsing and store sales after it started testing direct mail retargeting, said Taryn Rayment, the company’s director of digital marketing.

“We thought online browsers would mainly go back online to purchase and they didn’t,” she said. “It opened our eyes a bit to the fact that our site visitors are browsing and doing product research, not just using it as a place to purchase.”

Tumi’s experience with PebblePost also underscores why the latter plans to develop online programmatic channel partners.

PebblePost provides a way to channel some of the anonymous online profiles to known customers in Tumi’s CRM if it can make a sale and get someone to register for luggage tracking or a warranty, Rayment said.

Shopper marketing is traditionally heavy in direct mail (think retail coupon circulars), and PebblePost also stands to gain by capturing those budgets as they move online.

The online retailer Boxed doesn’t have stores where it can display signage or sell shelf space to brands, but PebblePost helps support its retail trade marketing efforts by connecting brands it works with directly with customers, said Boxed co-founder and CEO Chieh Huang.

Direct mail may seem slow and stodgy to most programmatic tech, but new commerce players are competing for brand budgets and trying to engage customers outside of banners and social media, said David ibnAle, Advanced Venture Partners’ managing partner, who will be joining the board of PebblePost and is an investor in ecommerce retailers Farfetch and Rent the Runway.

“At first glance, one would not expect to be investing in a direct mail marketing platform in mid-2018,” he said. “But younger people have come to ignore banners and native ads and technologists may have to go back to the future to get the best responses.”

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