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

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  • 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.

Partnership between RMS and A Million Ads announced

Hamburg, 25th April 2017

RMS partners with A Million Ads to deliver personalised audio advertising. The audio sales house RMS and UK start-up A Million Ads are bringing Dynamic Creative to the German audio market.

 
 

RMS, the leading German audio sales house, and A Million Ads, a global leader in data­-driven audio marketing, announced their cooperation on the German market today. A Million Ads specialises in the delivery of dynamic content and personalised adverts for online audio. It is the UK company's first partnership in Germany. This shows the continuing growth of Programmatic Audio. 


Thanks to the partnership, RMS now has access to the technology and creative approach developed by A Million Ads for the marketing of its online audio portfolio and can link them with its own adserver. Based on the known user information, advertisers can mix dynamically generated elements within a campaign, and thereby create personalised audio spots with a vast amount of possible combinations. The data which A Million Ads can access from the outset includes the location, time, weather and user device as well as the sequence of hearing the ad. In the next stage, first party data will become available, e.g. from login or usage. 


Frank Bacher, Head of Digital Media at RMS: "We are delighted to have gained A Million Ads, an experienced expert in personalised, data-powered online audio advertising, as a partner. This will give advertisers the chance, for the first time, to adjust and place advertising spots in real time for individual target groups. Thanks to this precise transmission, we can gain maximum attention in relevant situations. That is a real ground-breaking innovation for the audio advertising market. Dynamic Creatives emphasises the high quality of the online audio format. Together with A Million Ads and the campaigns of the first selected advertising partners, we will drive forward new developments in the German audio market."


Steve Dunlop, Founder and CEO at A Million Ads: "RMS are the obvious partner for us in the German market. Their scale and capability offers advertisers the chance to reach millions of consumers. Now, with A Million Ads, those moments can be personalised to each individual listener, capturing more attention and driving ROI for advertisers."


At the moment, the preparations for the first test campaigns are ongoing in cooperation with a large agency network. 

About A Million Ads
A Million Ads delivers personalised audio creative on-the-fly and at scale. driving higher brand engagement and greater media effectiveness. We make this possible by combining cutting-edge technology with innovation in the creative process to deliver relevant and personalised digital audio ads in real time. 
Contact: press(at)amillionads.com


About RMS
As the leading audio sales house in the German audio marketing market, RMS helps its clients to get closer to their target groups and their purchasing decisions, both in terms of location, time and topic. To do this, RMS offers services from the whole audio spectrum; advert times and formats as well as online offers from 165 private radio stations nationwide. On top of that, they are also leading the market in web radio and mobile apps. The marketing offer is supplemented by further services for market research, media planning and creation. In 2016, the revenue of the RMS partner stations was 1,270 billion Euros, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Chairman of the Board is Florian Ruckert. RMS has offices in all large German agency cities. The company's headquarters are in Hamburg Together with RMS Austria, RMS is the biggest audio sales house in Europe.

Contact: Kirsten Schade, Company Communication Press spokesperson, RMS Radio Marketing Service GmbH & Co KG
T. +49 (0) 40. 23890-153 M. 0175 8346079 E. schade@rms.de

Pandora Partners with A Million Ads to Become First Publisher to Deliver Dynamic Creative Audio Advertising

23 February 2017

Imagine a world where the advertisements you hear speak to you like a trusted friend. They get you. Your likes. Your perspective. And understand how to add value to your everyday life.

We’ve worked hard to make this level of personalisation a reality for your music listening experience on Pandora. We already know how important it is to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right moment–so we are beyond thrilled to announce that we are entering an exclusive partnership with UK-based company, A Million Ads, to enable our advertising partners to do this at even greater scale and efficiency.  

Together Pandora and A Million Ads are working to establish a new standard for data-driven creative in audio advertising. Not only will this partnership allow brands to further personalise their creative on Pandora, but they will also be able to look at performance across many more variants.

By applying dynamic creative technology to the world of audio, select Pandora advertisers will soon be able to test these enhanced features (that we plan to make widely available later this year):

  • Dynamic Creative at Scale: Serve real-time, tailored audio ads to Pandora listeners through a single tag. In addition to gender, age and zip, these ads also take into account variables like location, time of day and weather–letting advertisers create up to thousands of versions of an ad easily and efficiently. Combined with Pandora’s registration data, this puts the true power of personalisation to work for your brand message.
  • Sequential Messaging: Tell a complete brand story with sequentially targeted audio ads. We’ve already seen how campaigns that prioritise storytelling over asking the consumer to make a purchase achieve more effective results.1 Now, we take that to the next level through an unstoppable combination of audio storytelling and sophisticated targeting technology.

Dynamic Creative Expected to Lead to More Effective Brand Messaging

Can you imagine the possibilities of serving hyper-personalised, real-time audio ads to an audience who is already engaged and immersed in a personalised music listening experience? The end result is a brand message that actually connects with the listeners. Instead of serving the same coffee shop ad across regions and demographics, Pandora advertisers can easily tailor their creative to achieve more relevance to the listener. For example, listeners in Oakland, CA might hear something like this:

We’re also excited to be enabling musical personalisation, where advertisers can leverage a variety of different music beds and sounds to match a listener’s current listening experience.

Key Performance Indicators Expected to Get a Boost

We’ve seen time and again that contextually relevant ads generate more resonance with their intended audience, leading to better performance in terms of engagement and recall. Through this partnership, we also expect to see key performance indicators get a boost, including the hard-to-move metrics of Brand Favorability and Purchase Intent.

“We share Pandora’s vision and value for personalisation within the unique and intimate audio environment,” said Steve Dunlop, founder and CEO of A Million Ads, “and I’m delighted to partner with Pandora to bring this to market at scale. Dynamic creative represents a significant step in innovation for digital audio advertising and we look forward to building on this partnership as we grow.”

Pandora advertisers can expect dynamic creative functionality to be widely available later this year. To learn more about our partnership with A Million Ads,

Sources:

1. The Science of Social Advertising, “A Research Study on Sequenced for Call to Action vs. Sustained Call to Action,” May 2014