ActionIQ nabs $30M led by A16Z to bring big data targeting to marketers

The trend of using big data analytics to glean more targeted insights for your business continues to be democratized, with an increasing number of startups hitting the market to help those who are not data scientists nor engineers take advantage of these kinds of tools.

In the latest development, a startup called ActionIQ — a marketing activation platform that gives marketers better audience insights in order to run their campaigns in a more effective way, corralling a vast trove of big data behind a “user-friendly interface built for marketers” in the words of CEO Tasso Argyros — has picked up $30 million in funding.

The Series B is being led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation also from previous investors Sequoia Capital and Firstmark Capital, as well as new strategic investor Shutterstock, a customer of ActionIQ’s.

You might recall that it was only in March of this year that ActionIQ announced a Series A of $13 million. The reason for the swift follow-up, according to Argyros, is because of higher-than-expected demand for ActionIQ’s services, and the company quickly scaling to strike while the iron is hot.

“We were achieving huge growth rates and adoption by a variety of name brands, and so we decided to expand more quickly than we thought,” he said in an emailed interview.

It may have also helped that Argyros, who co-founded the company with Nitay Joffe (the CTO), has a track record in building big data analytics startups to help businesses tackle the opportunity of how to handle and better use the disparate amounts of information that they can now access: his previous big data company, Aster, was acquired by Teradata for $300 million back in 2011 (and he then stayed on for several years leading its big data division).

“ActionIQ’s traction to date made our investment extremely attractive,” said Martin Casado, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a statement. “The pedigree of the management team and the deep understanding of both marketing technology and data will be a strategic advantage in helping the world’s best B2C marketers triumph. We look forward to adding ActionIQ to our list of disruptive companies.” Casado is joining the board with this round.

Argyros would not say how many customers ActionIQ has today, except to note that there are three times the number of customers that it had in January of this year, “and we expect that trend to continue.” Those customers span all verticals with an emphasis today in financial, publishing, subscription and retail. “We are looking for the world’s most sophisticated marketers from the global 5000,” he added.

Adtech has been a persistent trend in the media business for years now: the idea here is to use smart data science and new tools to identify users on the web and serve them more targeted advertising relevant to their interests. More emergent now is the concept of marketing tech, or “martech” — which aims to do the same for the marketers of the world.

ActionIQ sits specifically in marketing “activation,” meaning the executing part that comes between planning a campaign and trying to figure out how effective that campaign actually was.

You could argue that in some regard it is perhaps the most important part of that sequence, and will be the part that will, longer term, make marketing a more accountable discipline overall (and in turn make ActionIQ and companies like it, which include Marketo, more valuable).

ActionIQ is part of another trend that is worth watching, which is the idea of taking tools created by and for engineers and data scientists, and making them more usable by “normals,” in this case, marketeers. Others in the field of marketing that have tapped this idea include Origami Logic, and Clari in the world of sales.

“We don’t really have direct competitors who can handle the scale and complexity of large datasets that the world’s best brands are trying to wrangle,” Argyros said. “There are companies who are trying to solve this for specific e-commerce companies, or smaller and less complex clients, but we really compete with corporate internal IT departments. And building in house is very hard to do due to the immense amount of engineering talent required, which most companies (unless you are Amazon, Facebook, etc.) do not have access to. We give them access to the best engineers in the world through our product.”

The company is not commenting on its valuation. Argyros describes it as a “significant increase” compared to its Series A. The company has now raised $45 million to date.