When people want local information, more often than not, they turn to the nearest mobile device. In fact, Google reportedly announced in October that 50 percent of mobile search queries are for local information. Mobile devices are integral to how we interface with the world, especially when it comes to searching for and discovering local businesses and services while on-the-go. While consumers are there, most small businesses have yet to fully tap into mobile marketing to reach those customers.
While SMBs are increasing their mobile marketing spend, they’re overwhelmed by all the options, don’t know whether to invest in search, social media, etc., and they feel like they’re forever playing catch-up. Sightly, which launches today, wants to help local businesses leverage what it believes is the most effective form of local advertising: Mobile video.
Through its local video platform, the California-based startup aims to help SMBs get found and discovered by consumers on mobile phones and social media by way of video ad spots. These short promotional videos allow potential customers to see inside local businesses in a more dynamic, three-dimensional way, while offering a form of advertising that’s more revealing of what the business actually does, and thus potentially more compelling to the end user.
To support its launch, Sightly is also announcing today that it has raised $5.6 million in venture capital, led by Moscow-based Bright Capital Digital. The round also included new investor, Foresight Ventures, as well as contributions from the startup’s previous investors, Floodgate, Tomorrow Ventures, Bullpen Capital, Mack Capital and 500 Startups.
If the mission behind Sightly sounds even remotely familiar, that’s because Sightly is actually the re-start of PixelFish, which acted as a sort of beta platform for the company to validate its approach to mobile video marketing. After raising $7.5 million in two rounds and partnering with YouTube to experiment with targeted local advertising, the startup pulled back and went into stealth mode, quietly testing and building out its product.
Over the last year, the founders decided to focus explicitly on local video advertising for SMBs and, as a result, sold their corporate video production division — along with the original name, PixelFish.
Now, with just over $13 million raised to date — Sightly will be using its new capital to expand both the reach and functionality of its mobile video platform. Sightly is now a certified Google AdWords partner, and offers SMBs the ability to create a local search advertising campaign to target consumers searching for their businesses within 72 hours.
The company then creates Viddy-style, 15-second commercials that live on YouTube and can be integrated with AdWords campaigns. Customers can click through the search ads to the videos hosted on YouTube, printing or texting deals to themselves to be redeemed later. In addition, Sightly offers a bunch of PaaS-type services, including the ability to regularly customize their campaigns, as well as access campaign analytics that live in a user-friendly dashboard, campaign results and details, regular campaign email blasts, and so on.
With its focused approach to mobile advertising, Sightly wants to give local merchants the ability to tell a bigger, more compelling story to potential customers by helping them design good-looking, short ad spots. It’s an approach that seems to have a lot of potential, with the biggest hurdle to customer adoption being the lack of education for SMBs on what mobile marketing tools they should use and how to measure their efficacy. Get over that hurdle, and they’re tapping into a significant, fast-growing market.