Back in 2009, Republic Project launched to give bands and labels a platform to sell pre-orders of new music direct to fans, while receiving 100 percent of the revenue. The platform essentially provided bands with a widget they could embed on their websites, blogs and social networks to share exclusive video from the road, the studio, and so on.
While the idea found a bit of traction with bands, the startup saw greater potential in taking its core technology and turning it into a platform with a broader appeal, so it went back to the drawing board. Three years later, Republic project is emerging with a completely new look (and mission), relaunching as an online ad campaign creation platform. And today, the startup is also announcing that this new incarnation has attracted $1 million in series A financing, led by Google Ventures. Also contributing to the round were 500 Startups, Venture51, Ludlow Ventures, Maneesh Arora of MightyText and Andrew Reis.
Republic Project is now an all-in-one advertising platform and dashboard with a simple value proposition: It allows anyone (specifically small publishers and advertisers) to create consistent ad campaigns and animations across any device, of any size. For one flat fee of $5K per month, says the startup’s CEO AJ Vernet, small agencies will get a cloud-based service that allows them to launch entire campaigns for desktop or mobile, which are scalable and can be updated in realtime. Plus, the whole process takes about 45 minutes, he says, so there’s a time saving value prop implicit as well.
While $5K/month may seem steep, the CEO believes the price point actually gives Republic Project a competitive advantage, potentially saving agencies thousands of dollars per month, as comparable services often cost up to $20K/month, with a 400×300 viral widget averaging $3K, 300×200 banner at $3K, mobile web app $7,500, 800×600 webpage at $5K, plus setup fees, etc. etc.
In terms of the available market, Republic Project sees plenty of opportunity, as digital spend from brands, studios and live events totals just about $12 billion. Of course, there are plenty of potential competitors in this space as a whole, but through offering a turnkey mobile/web platform that’s relatively “affordable,” the competition dwindles somewhat. There’s Spongecell and Flite, but DoubleClick and Razorfish and the rest tend to be more expensive, while being more technology provider and creative services-focused.
As to how the service works: Users log in, upload images, YouTube links and type out their copy. The service then generates IAB-standard units that automatically work on any device, which can be updated in a few seconds from the platform’s dashboard and are dynamically updated anywhere ads have been placed. Plus, thanks to its flat fee for usage, agencies don’t incur further costs when updating their campaigns.
Furthermore, just to clarify, Republic Project only handles the ad creation, it doesn’t run its own ad network, but it adheres to every standard. Instead, the platform then generates the code networks will need and the code will work on any device that sees it, recognizing whether they have Flash or not, what device the ads will be running on, etc.
The startup’s dashboard includes analytics, which allow users to analyze clicks, views, click-through rates, interactions and purchases within custom date ranges so that they can see how campaigns fair over time.
Republic Project has already forged a direct deal with Capitol One and a number of other big brand names, as well as striking up partnerships with companies like Pandora and Mojiva to help boost early customer acquisition.
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