Venture Investing in Digital Media and Big Data

Native Ad Exchange Bidtellect Raises $22.35 Million in New Funding

Native advertising exchange Bidtellect has raised $22.35 million in new capital to help the company build out its technology platform, product development, and sales and marketing teams.

The Series B funding round was led by new investors Blue Chip Venture Company and G20 Ventures and also included existing investor Valhalla Partners. The company previously raised $4.4 million in Series A funding in 2012.

Bidtellect is one of a handful of players that help advertisers buy native ads, which broadly refers to content that is sponsored by a brand and is designed to have the look and feel of the editorial content that typically appears on a Web publisher’s site. Bidtellect helps its customers purchase such native advertising programmatically and at scale.

“The ads feel like such a part of the environment that they’re much more welcomed by consumers. Consequently, the results bear out,” said Bidtellect Chief Executive Lon Otremba.

The company says its “end-to-end” approach to native advertising is unique. Bidtellect provides tools for both publishers and advertisers to access and purchase native ad space, and it operates an open real-time bidding exchange that connects the two sides. Bidtellect’s platform handles inventory across the major native ad formats that are defined by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, including in-feed ads and content recommendation ads. The company works with publishers such as Forbes, Reuters and CNN.

“This was built from the ground up for native,” Mr. Otremba said. “Many of the newer players in native are pure-play native guys, but there are a lot  of them out there who are trying to retrofit display, and it’s not the same technology… The market at-large that we’re operating in is very hot right now. Our timing was right in terms of how we’re positioned.”

Bidtellect, which was founded in 2011, declined to provide specific sales numbers. But the company said it is on track to more than double its revenue this year from last year.

Native advertising is a fast-growing corner of the advertising market and one that has attracted significant investor attention of late. In recent weeks, native ad tech firms Nativo and TripleLift have raised $20 million and $10.5 million, respectively, in new funding.  Bidtellect’s own funding round took four months to complete, a capital raise that would typically take six to nine months, according to Mr. Otremba.

Bidtellect has been a beneficiary of the growing demand for native ads and will use its new funding to enhance its platform to accommodate the rapid growth of ad auctions that are transacted on its platform. Today, 550 million auctions go through Bidtellect’s platform on a typical day, up from 20 million just six months ago, Mr. Otremba said.  The company expects the number of daily auctions that go through Bidtellect to pass 1 billion by September.

“Most websites have gradually shifted the majority of their advertising placements from display or traditional banners ads to native placements,” said Chairman John Ferber.