UK personalised audio startup, A Million Ads, raises £2.3m seed ahead of formal US Launch

  • A Million Ads intelligently personalises audio adverts by combining contextual information with an advertiser’s message to create highly relevant, better performing ads

  • £2.3m round led and priced by GMG Ventures with Edge Investments contributing £1.3m. Other investors in this round included Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Force Over Mass Capital, and Ascension Ventures (who are following on from previous rounds)

  • Cash injection will fund the company’s product development in its core audio offering, the launch of a personalised video product and US market expansion

  • The company is a recent graduate of the Founders Factory’s tech accelerator programme, where the media vertical is backed by GMG Ventures in partnership with The Guardian

A Million Ads, a London-based start-up making digital audio advertising more relevant and context-aware, has raised £2.3m in seed funding.

A Million Ads was founded by CEO Steve Dunlop, who has built a stellar team and pioneered personalisation in audio. A Million Ads is an innovative platform for producers and creatives to quickly and easily build millions of versions of an advertisement. The platform leverages information known about consumers, the brand and a campaign to influence the creative of the ad, such as the music, voice-over or sound effects. The result is highly relevant ads, which are delivered real-time, reducing noise for consumers. The ads are more context-aware, creating a more pleasant listening experience, therefore performing better than traditional advertisements.

The company is already working with music streaming, internet radio and podcasting services around the world, producing campaigns for brands such as Virgin Atlantic, Audible, BMW, Ebay, British Airways and Deliveroo. A Million Ads is fully GDPR compliant and uses environmental and aggregate data to make ads feel more personal to each user.

The audio market has recently experienced a resurgence thanks to developments in technology and consumer habits. Audio-on-demand (such as podcasting) is experiencing the same growth trend as music streaming and video-on-demand, benefiting the company’s core proposition.  Moreover, there is clear demand from consumers for better quality, less invasive, more ethical and more relevant advertising.

Funds raised in this round will see the company expanding its product to include video, as well as accelerating growth in the US, where the company already has a blue-chip client base.

Steve Dunlop, Founder and CEO of A Million Ads, said: “We are at the heart of two of the hottest trends in advertising – audio and personalisation. By innovating in the creative process, we provide the tools that advertisers need to reach consumers with more relevant and personalised content than ever before. This backing from our investors is a clear signal that we are on to something, and the funds will help accelerate our international growth as well as apply our personalisation know-how to other channels, starting with video where the market opportunity is clear.”

Alan Hudson, Managing Partner from GMG Ventures LP said: “Among its investment themes, GMG Ventures invests in talented founders, who are leading companies disrupting traditional media business models, including advertising.  A Million Ads’ value is clear and tangible to both consumers and brands, while it benefits from significant market tailwinds.  We are also excited about its US market traction to date, indicating an attractive growth opportunity for the company.”

David Glick, Founder and CEO at Edge Investments, said: “A Million Ads fits exactly with Edge’s investment remit; a creative-led, technology-enabled business run by an experienced and talented entrepreneur which is poised to become the leading player in this space by positively changing the consumer experience and delivering huge value to advertisers and publishers. With this additional capital, A Million Ads’ world-class technology and excellent team will propel it to the next stage of growth in the UK and overseas.”

About A Million Ads

A Million Ads personalises digital audio advertising. Think music streaming ads that know what city you are in, or radio ads on your smart speaker that know if it's raining outside. Our ads are more context aware and relevant to the listener, and so perform a lot better. We have delivered over 130 campaigns across Europe for brands including Sky, BMW, British Airways, Deliveroo, Carphone Warehouse, Virgin Atlantic and Nissan, are working with five out of the six major advertising agencies and have partnerships with all the major music streaming, internet radio and podcasting services around the world.

We exist to make ads that you love. We do that by combining creativity in the production process with a tech platform that, powered by data, delivers the best ad at the right time for each user.

Today we deploy our personalisation engine across music streaming, internet radio and podcasting services and we are now extending that capability across many other channels, starting with video.

About GMG Ventures LP

GMG Ventures LP, a venture capital fund whose sole limited partner is the Scott Trust, owner of the Guardian, invests in early stage businesses focused on developing the next generation of media technology which will accelerate GMG’s strategy, or be adjacent and disruptive to the media sector.    Examples of sectors we focus on include tools for journalism, including AI and blockchain, payment technologies, tools or platforms allowing readers to act on content that inspires them, new forms of content distribution, including audio and VR. As part of our strategy, we seek to provide portfolio companies with unfair advantage due to their ability to leverage Guardian resources such as potential access for start-ups to The Guardian's extensive global network.

About Edge Investments

Edge Investments is one of the UK’s most dynamic and innovative specialist investors in the creative industries. Since its launch in 2006 it has raised £200m. In November 2015 Edge launched the Edge Creative Enterprise Fund, a £40 million fund with backing from the British Business Bank.

Recent investments have included video and audio platforms Newsflare and audioBoom, Antidote, a factual TV production company, TRX, a TV licensing platform, Airbeem, a leading Over the Top (‘OTT’) video distribution platform and kid’s activity market place Hoop. Edge Investments has also invested in children’s entertainment, live events and mobile games analytics.

Core to Edge’s approach is its experienced team of creative industries and investment professionals. Individually and collectively, the Edge team has been investing in venture capital since 1984 across 11 separate funds.