In-Game Ad Startup Admix Snags $25 Million Series B To Woo Brands And Accelerate Growth

In-play Admix ad

Admix, a London-based startup that helps advertisers programmatically place virtual billboards in mobile and video games, announced its $25 million Series B on Tuesday.

The round, which brings Admix’s total funding to $37 million since 2018, includes participation from existing investors (Force Over Mass, Speedinvest and Sure Valley Ventures) as well as a whole bunch of new ones (Elefund, DIP Capital, Notion Capital, Rocket Capital, Colopl Next and Side Door Ventures). A few angels from the gaming industry also pitched in.

The raise comes a little over a year after Admix’s $7 million Series A in June 2021 and a $1.5 million extension to the round last September.

Former GroupM CEO Rob Norman has served on Admix’s board since February.

Not playing around

Interest in the gaming category has been growing and not just among investors, said Sam Huber, CEO and co-founder of Admix.

Many brands (finally) had their eyes opened to the potential of gaming during the pandemic, when engagement was through the roof. And activations, like the Nike-sponsored Travis Scott concert in Fortnite last April, proved that “games can also be used for entertainment,” Huber said.

Admix recently signed deals to run in-play campaigns for Calvin Klein, Sky, Movember and UK-based footwear company schuh. The company has also done deals with State Farm, Uber, Amazon, McDonald’s, National Geographic, Universal and Burberry.

Sam Huber, CEO & co-founder, AdmixBut the pandemic was only a catalyst of existing behavior. In 2019, there were more than 2.5 billion gamers in the world, according to mobile marketing researcher Newzoo. That number is set to hit nearly 3 billion this year.

Yet one third of media buyers recently surveyed by Admix continue to underestimate the scale of the gaming audience by many orders of magnitude. One third of media buyers think there are somewhere between 100 million and 500 million daily active gamers, while 27% believe the number is between 500 million and 1 billion. Close – but still off by billions.

“Gaming” needs a rebrand – or at least some new terminology that differentiates between different types of games, Huber said. That could help with the perception issue.

“There’s been the constant misrepresentation that gaming is still niche, which it’s not, and that the average gamer plays Call of Duty,” Huber said. “But if you include social gaming, the average gamer is a 32-year-old female.”

In the mix

Admix runs 12 billion auctions monthly across roughly 400 titles and has its own free SDK that publishers can integrate to create inventory inside their games.

The ads are woven directly into the gameplay itself – a virtual billboard on the sideline of a soccer game, for example, or a virtual poster wrapped around a bus shelter – so that they don’t disrupt the playing experience.

Rather than overlaying an ad onto an available surface, Admix’s technology renders it natively to take light and shadow into account. Advertisers can use their existing video and banner creative, which Admix converts into 3D objects.

Admix has its own DSP and SSP, and the ads can also be bought and sold programmatically through partnerships with PubMatic, Xandr, The Trade Desk and Google. Admix has a partnership with Integral Ad Science to measure the viewability of its inventory.

As of now, advertisers are able to target their campaigns based on in-game behavior, such as how long someone has spent within a game or the level they’ve reached. But Admix is planning to develop AI tools to capture new types of first-party contextual data, Huber said.

“We’re looking for unique insights we can extract for brands,” he said. “Is a user happy, sad, disappointed? Are they maybe hungry because they’ve been playing for three hours straight? It’s about using models to surface basic emotions.”

Admix will spend most of its new funding round on product development, building supply relationships and on business development to attract large game developers to projects that span beyond gaming and into the budding metaverse.

But isn’t it a little early to be monetizing the metaverse since … the metaverse doesn't actually exist yet?

“In order for the metaverse to grow, creators need tools to build, but they also need tools to monetize,” Huber said. “The metaverse is the next phase of the internet, and the way content is distributed and monetized will be different in 3D environments than it is on the web.”

Admix, which has nearly 70 employees today, is planning to grow to around 80 by the end of the year and continue geographic expansion into the US, Asia and Latin America. The company recently hired longtime Google executive Michael Silberberg as VP of global agency partnerships based in New York, and Spotify veteran Alex Faust as VP of ad sales for EMEA.

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