It used to be that having a corporate blog and some paid content was the gist of your marketing department’s content efforts, and that was enough. But as larger companies like Salesforce and HubSpot have launched their own full-blown media arms, it may be time to rethink your content strategy.
AudiencePlus, a new media platform from a long-time marketing executive, wants to put the media capabilities of these larger companies within reach of much smaller companies. Today the company announced a $5.4 million seed investment.
“We’re referring to it as an owned media platform, but think of it as an evolution of the blog or the resource center, or maybe it’s a standalone media property for a brand,” company founder and CEO Anthony Kennada told TechCrunch.
The idea is to give you control over your own user base, which is a big reason that HubSpot bought The Hustle, for instance. They wanted to have access to an audience of engaged users, who were interested in what HubSpot is selling.
Kennada is hoping his platform will give that same kind of reach to every company. This involves four main pieces. For starters, you can build a media platform with AudiencePlus without writing any code. This could involve producing videos, podcasts, blogs and even live events.
“So it could be a webinar or a virtual event or something to that end, all on your own domain. And so now instead of sending traffic to YouTube, you’re sending it to your own property, where you can build that direct relationship,” he said.
What’s more, you can let people subscribe to your various offerings, so they know what’s new, but also to give you more direct access to those people who are interested in your company and what you’re doing. The platform also includes an analytics piece, which he sees as a big value proposition for the company, giving customers a deep understanding of their audience and what they’re consuming.
Finally, Kennada, who spent time as CMO at several companies including Gainsight and Hopin, says you have to justify the investment in the media platform to the C-suite. AudiencePlus includes the ability to link to marketing automation and CRM software to see how the content is driving business to the company, which is especially important right now when CIOs are scrutinizing every dollar spent looking for value to the business.
“This is tied fundamentally to demand generation and revenue. It’s great for brand teams that want to use it…but it’s really principally focused to help companies generate demand in a more efficient way,” he said.
The important thing to remember is that building the infrastructure is one thing, but building an audience to come to that platform is much harder. The company already has a few dozen paying customers using the platform today, including Zuora, Five9 and Crossbeam. His early customers are mostly SaaS companies, but this is a product that could potentially be useful for any marketing department looking for new ways to build an audience and have access to a fresh supply of first-party data, something that’s increasingly important with the elimination of cookies on websites.
The company currently has 10 employees with some open recs. He says that he is looking to build a diverse employee base as he scales the company. “It’s super critical and super important. And we have a responsibility as a brand to lead from the front with this,” he said.
Today’s $5.3 million investment was led by Emergence Capital with participation from Forum Ventures, Worklife Ventures and GTMfund. It also included angel investors from several tech company CEOs including Nick Mehta at Gainsight, his former company.