Pressboard raises $2M for its native ad marketplace

Pressboard is a native ad marketplace that brings together brands and publishers on a single, streamlined platform that allows them to go from commissioning content and getting it edited to tracking if it’s catching on with readers after it has been published. No matter whether you love or hate native content (and most writers and publishers I know have a complicated relationship with it), revenues from traditional display advertising continue to decline for most publishers, and native ads are one of the few new revenue opportunities for them.

Pressboard, which launched in 2014, today announced that it has raised a $2 million funding round led by Vancouver Founder Fund, with participation from all of its existing investors, to help it expand its marketplace. The company’s CEO and co-founder Jerrid Grimm tells me that Pressboard currently has more than 300 publishers on its platform. These include the likes of Mashable, Vox Media, Business Insider, the Toronto Star and Thrillist. The brands the company works with include GE, Ford, General Mills and Chase, and the company says it has now helped these brands create more than 1,200 custom stories.

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With the new funding, Pressboard plans to expand its marketing and partnership teams in its offices in Vancouver, Toronto and New York, but what’s maybe even more interesting is that it also plans to put more resources into its Pressbot service. Pressbot uses all the data the Pressboard platform currently gathers (and Grimm tells me the company built its own analytics system). Pressbot looks at headlines, the story’s topics, sentiment and readability — among dozens of other characteristics — and matches that up with its analytics to predict how well a story will do before it’s been published. This may make some writers and publishers nervous, but it’s definitely something brands would like to use when they commission this kind of content.

As Grimm noted when I talked to him ahead of today’s announcement, the traditional method of buying native ads tends to be rather convoluted and manual. The idea behind Pressboard is to automate as much of this process as possible and streamline the sales process.

“The hundreds of brand stories created through Pressboard’s Marketplace have already demonstrated the true power of branded content,” Grimm noted in today’s announcement. “With the space forecasted to grow from $12B last year to $50B by 2021, the technology required to make these campaigns efficient and measurable was missing. Pressboard fills that gap.”