Venture Investing in Digital Media and Big Data

Kinetic Social Picks Up $17.5 Million In Funding To Fuel Creative Push

Kinetic Social is choosing growth over profitability.The social ads company, which announced $17.5 million in venture cash from Multiplier Capital and Bridge Bank on Tuesday, will use the bulk of its funding to ramp up its content management and creative services through an internal outfit the company is calling Creative Studio.

The infusion brings Kinetic’s total funding to $38.5 million. The company raised $8 million in Series A in 2013, followed a year later by $18 million in Series B.

“We’re seeing a growing consolidation around content management and media execution,” said Kinetic Social CEO Don Mathis. “If we wanted to achieve profitability, we could grow at a slow rate, or we can continue to invest in growth. We’re choosing the latter.”

It’s a theme that Kinetic, whose clients include BMW, Mars, H&M, Delta, American Express, Snickers and Lancome, is looking to capitalize on with the expansion of its Creative Studio, an approach Mathis called “one part technology, one part human touch.”

“Advertisers need a lot more creative than they realize when they first starting engaging with social platforms,” said Mathis, who stressed that Kinetic’s creative efforts are meant to complement, rather than replace, the work already being done by agencies on behalf of their clients.

“We’re not getting into the business of coming up with strategic creative messages that apply across all media,” he said. “This is a tactical approach to creative. The creative agency understands how a campaign should look and feel and we know how to implement that in a social setting.”

But the need for more platform-specific creative is great, especially as the highly visual social players like Pinterest and Instagram start aligning themselves with bottom-of-the-funnel activities.

At this point, Pinterest in particular is “almost more of an ecommerce visual search engine than it is a social media network,” Mathis said.

Pinterest took the wraps off a long-awaited buy button in early June, followed roughly two weeks later by the official launch of its ads API, at which time Kinetic was named as one of eight Pinterest Marketing Developer Partners. [Kinetic is also a Facebook Marketing Partner and a Twitter Official Partner.]

Kinetic is also planning to use a portion of its funding to further develop the social data-management functionality that underpins its media optimization technology. The two fit together hand in glove, Mathis said.

“A lot of our growth is coming from agencies and advertisers reallocating a portion of the budget they would otherwise have spent on display,” he said.

Hiring is on the agenda, as well, especially senior-level roles centered on product management for its social DMP and its creative studio. The company is aiming to up headcount from 80 to around 100 by Q4.

Headquartered in New York, with offices in Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco, Kinetic has plans to open another location in Singapore by the end of the year to handle new business in the Asia Pacific region.