Teads, the video ad company that last month raised $47 million in debt financing in order to go on a buying spree of other adtech startups, is staying true to its word. Today it’s announcing the acquisition of UK and Romania-based Brainient, the interactive video ad startup founded by Emi Gal, who has been a fixture of the London tech scene for almost as long as I’ve been reporting on it.
Founded in 2009, Brainient and its smart Romanian engineering team hit on the idea of increasing the engagement and performance of online video adverts by making them more personalised and interactive.
The former refers to way Brainient-powered ads can tap into any data source to allow the ads served to match a user’s profile and preferences — including socio-demo, geolocation, screen used, time of the day, weather (or basically any other type of contextual data) — while the latter includes things like making video ads ‘shoppable’ or the ability to submit an in-video form to request further information about a product.
The Brainient studio is a suite of tools that takes care of the heavy lifting to make these kind of interactive and data-driven video ads, including ensuring they can easily be reconfigured to work across formats and devices and they are compatible with the disparate video ad networks and publisher properties. And it’s here where Teads’ acquisition of Brainient comes into play.
Bertrand Quesada, CEO of Teads, told me in a call that the plan is to be able to offer the newly-named Teads Studio to the company’s existing customers for free, in order to increase the ROI of the Teads video ad proposition.
That’s because the European company specialises in so-called “outstream” ads: video ads that reside outside of video content, such as placed in an article between two paragraphs of text.
These already potentially perform better than traditional video pre-rolls and by making the ads themselves data-infused and interactive, the idea is to not only enable Teads’ customers to innovate around where video ads are placed and how they are delivered but also within the creative itself. Brainient has always claimed that its interactive video ads perform better than standard ones.
In a call with Brainient’s Gal, he sounded upbeat about the exit, although both he and Quesada declined to reveal terms of the deal. Brainient had raised around $4 million in total funding, including a $1.8 million Series A in 2012 led by Prague-based Credo Ventures with participation from Atlas Venture, Estag Capital, Sherry Coutu, and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.
A source close to one of Brainient’s investors also told me they were very happy with the return the startup’s exit has produced and they wouldn’t hesitate backing Gal a second time, should he ever go on to start another company. Separately, another source told me that the startup had previously fielded offers of around $10-12 million, so make of that what you will. I also understand that although Gal and Brainient’s other co-founder and CTO Andrei Baragan were the startup’s largest shareholders, they no longer held a majority stake.
Meanwhile, Gal tells me he’ll be relocating to New York City to help Teads Studio sell more into the U.S. market (something he said he needed to do urgently as far back as 2012!) and that this was always the plan once Brainient felt it had become a leader in Europe. He also says that with Teads’ resources, Brainient plans to double the size of its engineering team in Romania and continue to iterate the product.