Ad tech isn’t dying: children-focused ad platform SuperAwesome raises $17m
While it seems like the walls are caving in on certain areas of ad tech, some companies are still flying high, especially if they provide a specific solution to a niche problem or have predictable revenue and profit. The latest case in point: Privacy-focused kids tech company SuperAwesome announced on Monday that it has raised $17 million in a financing round led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund.
Founded in 2013, U.K.-based SuperAwesome offers technology to advertisers to help them deliver ads on children’s websites and apps that are compliant with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. (Both laws prohibit advertising directly to specific children’s profiles.)
SuperAwesome’s ad platform analyzes the content within an app or site and matches it with an appropriate ad. Its approach differs from adult-focused ad tech platforms, which tend to rely on third-party cookies to match ads to a user’s profile.
SuperAwesome works with more than 300 companies including Mattel, Cartoon Network and Lego. It has raised a total $37 million in funding to date, said SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins, noting that his company generated $55 million in revenue in 2019 and was also profitable last year.
Beyond offering advertising (the company’s biggest revenue generator), SuperAwesome also provides a content platform designed for kids titled PopJam, as well as a parental-consent-management platform called Kids Web Services.
SuperAwesome is also developing a video streaming platform called Ruckuz, intended for the creators of kids’ content. The company’s executives hope that content creators will find this new platform fills the gap left by YouTube’s move earlier this month to stop running targeted ads on videos designed for children. YouTube’s policy change came after Google paid a $170 million fine to settle the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and New York attorney general’s allegations that YouTube had illegally collected children’s personal data without their parents’ permission. This fine represents the largest penalty ever assessed as a result of enforcement of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Both laws prohibit using personal information from children without the consent of their parents.
M12’s investment in the company is particularly notable given that Microsoft owns the popular kids game Minecraft and the video game livestreaming platform Mixer.
Despite the fact that individuals aged 5 to 15 represent 40% of all internet users, Collins said, “there is so little investment in the kids’ space.” He added that “kids tech” represents “a weird blind spot” for investors. His 40% figure came from PwC’s 2019 “Kids digital media report 2019,” which SuperAwesome commissioned.
SuperAwesome helps align “quite a rich market that advertisers will pay a premium for” to make sure they comply with regulations and implement additional safeguards like frequency capping, said Andrew Jude Rajanathan, global director at Publicis-owned media agency Zenith. Rajanathan has bought ads for kids brands including Lego, Hasbro and Mattel.
“Lots of tech companies, if I covered up the logo, they all look the same,” Rajanathan said. But SuperAwesome “is super specific [and works] for brand advertisers and has large revenue opportunities.”
SuperAwesome’s fundraising news …read more