Sonobi Raises $10.4 Million And Makes Some Big Hires

Sonobi Series ASonobi, an ad tech company serving both publishers and agencies, has raised $10.4 million in Series A funding and made a few notable hires.

Among the appointments is Tony Katsur, who joins as president. A former senior exec with Rubicon Project and CEO at Maxifier, Katsur said he was drawn to the company’s audience insights, in particular the ability to “forecast the audience yield curve for buyers and sellers and what the appropriate price targets are.”

Katsur will work on building both the publisher and buy sides of Sonobi’s marketplace.

“For the rest of the year, we’re going to accelerate the partnerships we have with the large media agencies and trading desks,” Katsur said. The company also will concentrate on publisher development and education about Sonobi’s new focus: better audience data and forecasting for buyers and sellers.

Additionally, former Rocket Fuel exec Paul Wenz has signed on as chief revenue officer, and former Omnicom Media Group exec John Donahue joined as chief product officer.

Founded in 2011, Sonobi first went to market as a publisher SSP [supply-side platform] and ad network but has lately added buy-side relationships with agencies, brands and trading desks. The company now positions as an “audience marketplace,” Katsur said. Sonobi enables buyers and sellers to use data to value, negotiate and then deliver media.

Sonobi charges advertisers and publishers a transparent percentage of media spend, Katsur said, which varies based on whether the deal is direct, private marketplace or RTB.

On the buy side, its pitch centers on audience forecasting, and helping advertisers find and lock in target audiences via RTB or programmatic direct. Sonobi announced an integration with MediaMath early last year, but declined to name other demand-side partners.

On the publisher side, it has worked with names like Hearst and Reader’s Digest.

Sonobi only integrates as a header tag before the ad server. Because that integration enables Sonobi to look at every single ad impression, it can use its four in-house data scientists to enable publishers to better understand the value of their audience and use that intelligence to package direct deals or know their inventory’s true value.

Wenz will lead Sonobi’s efforts to get more comScore 200 publishers onto the Sonobi platform. In his previous role at Rocket Fuel, he helped publishers use the company’s technology for their audience extension strategies.

“Seeing how effective it was to put publisher and advertiser data in one platform … made me realize that deeper relationships with publishers were necessary to facilitate that,” Wenz said.

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