The approach seems to have convinced investors, with Popular Pays announcing that it has raised an additional $3.1 million, which it rolled up with the funding it raised after participating in Y Combinator into a Series A of $5.2 million. The round was led by GoAhead VC with participation from Pallasite Ventures and Hyde Park Angels.
Drummey told me that when he started Popular Pays, he assumed that the main value the service could provide was connecting marketers with social media influencers to promote their brands and products. That wasn’t entirely wrong, but he said, “The real value of what we’re doing is in the content itself. Brands realized that, too — they wanted the impressions, but they were staying for the content.”
After all, brands need an increasing amount of videos, photos and blog posts if they’re going to keep posting and engaging online, a trend that’s only going to increase as social media shifts toward more Snapchat Stories-style formats.
To be clear, Popular Pays hasn’t abandoned the influencer marketing model entirely. Drummey said most of the company’s campaigns involve a combination of generating content for a brand and publishing promotional messages on users’ accounts.
However, he said the company has switched from calling those users influencers — instead, it calls them creators, to reflect the fact that for many of them, “Their value isn’t necessarily that they’re famous or a celebrity, but that they’re professional content creators.”
Drummey also noted that Popular Pays offers tools that help marketers manage many creators at once (hundreds, in the case of some campaigns), and to A/B test the content that they produce. And the company is expanding the way it makes money by licensing the technology to other businesses and also working with resellers — in fact, he said resellers already account for nearly one-third of the company’s revenue.