BoostCTR

Ad Optimization Startup BoostCTR Raises $8M, Hires Former StubHub Exec Shawn Kernes As CTO

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BoostCTR, a startup that uses crowdsourcing and split testing to help businesses find the most effective words and images for their online ads, has raised $8 million in Series B funding.

The round was led by Battery Ventures (the firm’s general partner Brian O’Malley is joining BoostCTR’s board of directors), with participation from previous investors Javelin Venture Partners and Western Technology Investment. The company has now raised a total of $12 million.

Here’s how the service works: Customers provide the company with ads that they want to optimize, then copywriters or “image specialists” (depending on the type of ad) can compete to create something better. If an advertiser approves the submitted text or image, BoostCTR will run a split test comparing the new ads with the existing ones — the one that gets the most clicks or highest conversion rates is selected as the winner and is run more broadly.

Ultimately, the advertiser should get more effective ads that they pay less money for, while freelancers (BoostCTR says it has a network of more than 1,000) make an average of $25 an hour.

Co-founder and CEO David Greenbaum said the model has shifted in a few key ways over the past year or so. For one thing, BoostCTR now focused on selling its product to large enterprises rather than small and medium businesses — Greenbaum said that’s where the biggest need is. For another, it now provides more feedback about why certain campaigns are successful and some aren’t — to do that, it has hired two data scientists of its own and as well as tapping into some “external resources.” Lastly, as mentioned above, it has expanded beyond ad copy and now optimizes images too.

Greenbaum said revenue has grown 100 percent, quarter-over-quarter, and that the company’s success is part of a large shift in ad optimization. Until now, ad tech has focused on optimizing the consumers you’re targeting and how advertisers value those eyeballs or clicks. However, there’s a “third lever” that’s largely been neglected — the actual messaging in the ad. In that third category, he argued technology alone won’t suffice.

“You need the human touch, you need human insight to convince humans to take action,” Greenbaum said.

BoostCTR is also announcing that it has hired Shawn Kernes as its CTO and senior vice president of product. Kernes was most recently CTO at BuzzMob, and his past experience includes serving as CTO of StubHub and BeyondTheRack, as well as COO of Cash4Gold. (Greenbaum said BoostCTR’s previous CTO is moving over to the COO role.)