Trend Platform Taykey Snags $15M In Series D, Plans Move Away From Media Buying

BieberJustin Bieber’s bulge. Those are three words you probably didn’t expect to see – but that’s exactly what was trending the most among college-age girls after images were released from the Bieb’s photoshoot for Calvin Klein underwear last week.

For brands targeting girls 18-24, the question is at what point they should be all over that bulge, so to speak.

That’s the idea behind ad platform Taykey, which announced $15 million in Series D funding Tuesday led by Innovation Endeavors, a VC firm helmed by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. SoftBank Capital, Sequoia Capital, Marker LLC, MSR Capital and Tenaya Capital also joined the round. The new injection brings Taykey’s total funding to $32 million.

The company, which began life programmatically selling media to brands around content trending with their desired audiences, is moving away from that business model toward a SaaS marketing platform approach. The platform, what Taykey CEO Amit Avner called “an evolution” of the company’s existing capabilities, was also launched Tuesday.

“Our clients already buy media from Facebook, Google and others where they can get it at scale and for amazing discounts,” Avner said. “With our new model, clients can buy the technology from us and the media elsewhere and link the accounts. It’s cheaper for our clients.”

Part of the motivation to change came from the realization that there was greater potential in harnessing trends than simply facilitating real-time media buys – which would also be a more profitable proposition for Taykey, which plans to focus on licensing its tech. Although the company will mostly  shift away from the media-buying business, it will still offer that service to clients that want it.

As part of the platform, Taykey clients – the list includes Coke, GE, Unilever, Volvo, VW, Land Rover, Amex, Sony Pictures and Paramount – can access trend-based analytics and audience insights to inform their overall marketing strategy. Although it’s considering adding a services layer down the line, for the moment Taykey will only provide the content recommendations and trend-based audience info. It’ll be up to the brands to execute.

“For example, a movie studio we work with saw that Taylor Swift was trending with their audience, so they invited her to the premiere of their new movie,” Avner said. “This information can have an impact on marketing, not just media.”

It’s Avner’s hope that this is the way into a brand’s heart and, of course, its pocket.

“There’s a huge untapped opportunity for the big brands and I’m not talking about direct-response. Companies like Criteo do an amazing job with that, but the Coca-Colas and Paramounts of the world don’t sell anything online,” Avner said. “They buy prime-time TV and that’s what we’re trying to be – prime-time online.”

In addition to investing in its new marketing platform, Taykey, which has about 100 employees right now, plans to spend its new money on hiring up to 60 new people – as many as 30 in Israel on the engineering side and up to 30 in New York for ops, client services and marketing. Some of the cash will also go to expand Taykey’s San Francisco and LA offices. A potential London office is on the road map.

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