33across Gets $9 Million Investment; CEO Wheeler Discusses Target Market, Strategy

Social targeting firm 33across announced a Series B, $9 million investment led by “Flybridge Capital Partners with participation from Series A investors, First Round Capital and QED Investors.” Read the release.

33across CEO Eric Wheeler discussed plans for the new funds and company strategy.

AdExchanger.com: Can you drill down on the “Technology, Product and Sales Initiatives” that the $9 million will be used for?

EW: 2010 was an amazing year for 33Across with revenue up 15x over 2009.  Even more exciting is that we’re just beginning to understand how predictive social graph data can be across different product categories.  The largest use of funds will be investing in the people and technology to support our SocialDNA™ platform, which helps marketers identify and target audiences of people socially connected to their brand.  We have a number of innovative data visualization and insight tools on the roadmap for early 2011 to help clients better understand the power of the social graph.  Regarding sales, we’re rapidly expanding our national sales footprint (we’re currently in 7 US markets) and global footprint this year.  We’re hiring!!

What’s the funding environment like today for ad tech startups?  Any pushback out there?

For high-growth, profitable startups the market is very strong.  We were fortunate to have several amazing venture partners at the table in this fundraising process and are excited to partner with Jon Karlen and the Flybridge team.  33Across plays in the middle of two powerful macro trends towards data-based audience segmentation, and the rise of the social web.  Many VC’s are looking for successful early-stage businesses in this space, particularly given the incredible trajectory of companies like Facebook and Groupon.

Any plans on going direct to the marketer rather than through agencies given 33across’s interest in brand dollars?

While most of our business is direct to agency today, we do have several direct-to-client relationships. We’ll continue to explore both channels in 2011.  Our unique video and rich media offerings have been extremely successful with our brand advertisers and we expect demand to increase even more in 2011.

How is 33across different from other social targeting ad networks and data companies in the space?

One of our larger clients once told us that she works with 33Across because “it’s one thing to have data, it’s another thing to know how to use it.”  Since we founded company, we’ve taken a dual approach of combining the most advanced targeting techniques with an easy-to-understand product offering that includes deep insights and analytical tools – which we give to clients for free as part of every campaign.  The end result is that 33Across campaigns not only perform extremely well – top of plan in most cases – but they help make clients smarter about their overall marketing strategies.  Putting data in the hands of clients creates an environment of trust and transparency that has enabled 33Across to develop a number of long-term client relationships.  That approach carries over to our relationship with consumers where, in addition to active participation in industry groups like the NAI, we were recently named as one of 7 launch partners for the Better Advertising’s Open Data Partnership to give consumers more control over the collection and usage of information about their interests.

Is (or will) Facebook an opportunity for 33across?

We’re big fans of Facebook’s strategy to embed social functionality across the web, not just on Facebook’s site.  In many ways we’ve developed a complementary strategy of leveraging social connectivity data for media programs delivered across the web.  In general, we see Facebook as a huge driver of awareness around the power of social connections from a marketing perspective.

By John Ebbert

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