SimpleReach Raises $9M To Measure Content Marketing And Native Ads

SimpleReach, a startup that helps marketers and publishers measure the effectiveness of their content and ads, is announcing that it has raised $9 million in Series A funding.

The company says it can not only tell customers how well their content is doing on publisher websites and on social media, but also predict which articles will take off — each article is assigned a score between 0 to 99, indicating how much social media traffic it will drive to the customer’s site. SimpleReach then allows marketers to promote those articles through ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Outbrain, Nativo, StumbleUpon and TripleLift.

The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post and The Atlantic all use SimpleReach to measure their native ad programs, the company says, and brands such as Intel and Xerox use it to analyze and promote their own content marketing.

We covered the company’s $1.6 million seed round two years ago. Co-founder and CEO Edward Kim acknowledged that SimpleReach may have been “a little early to the market,” with investors not necessarily convinced that there was a big opportunity here.

Kim added that in the early stages of content marketing (i.e., promoting a brand indirectly by publishing articles, videos, and other content that has isn’t just an ad), everyone was focused on, well, the actual creation of content: “Before you create, there’s nothing to distribute.” Now, however, he argued that SimpleReach’s measurement and distributions tools are clearly necessary.

“How many companies today, and how many marketers today, have a blog?” Kim asked, suggested that the answer may be in the “hundreds of thousands.” But far fewer have a distribution strategy and are doing anything to show the return on investment.

Those are the kinds of tools that SimpleReach is building, and will continue to build. Kim suggested that his goal is to bring content marketing to the same level of technology as online display advertising.

The new funding should help with that. It was led by MK Capital, with participation from Atlas Venture, Village Ventures, and High Peaks Venture Partners. MK’s Kirk Wolfe is joining the SimpleReach board of directors.

Kim concluded our interview by suggesting that analytics companies are “somewhat uninteresting” — an odd statement from someone running what appears to be an analytics company. However, Kim defined analytics companies as building a “one-to-one relationship” around data. In other words, they take your data and show it to you in a new way.

“If you can position your company to go and build a data marketplace, which is many-to-many … then you become a layer [in the ecosystem], and it’s harder to displace you,” Kim said, offering Nielsen and comScore as examples. “That’s really where our focus is and where we see our opportunity. And that’s part of the reason we were able to raise the round that we did.”