BrightTag Banks $27M From Yahoo Japan

BrightTagBrightTag's Asia-Pacific expansion plans are brighter now that the company has added an additional $27 million in financing from investor and partner Yahoo Japan.

Existing investors, including Baird Capital, EPIC Ventures, I2A Fund, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and TomorrowVentures also participated in the round; BrightTag raised $15 million in April 2012 and has more than 1,000 brands and agencies using its software, including W Hotels, 1-800 Flowers, HAVAS Media and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The new line of funding will be used for product development and to grow the company's global sales footprint.

Although the Chicago-based company's technology  is commonly classified as tag management (software that manages the lines of code that shoot data from the company website to various tracking or analytics platforms), BrightTag prefers to label itself as a data management connector for both online and offline interactions.

"Some clients are streaming data live from POS systems and use our server-direct infrastructure to move the data, in real time, to DMPs, DSPs and ad networks," commented Marc Kiven, founder and chief revenue officer of BrightTag. In the case of Yahoo Japan, which was created in 1996 as a joint venture between Yahoo and SOFTBANK, BrightTag's data integration solution Fuse will fuel a DMP Yahoo Japan is currently developing.

While segmenting audiences to improve targeting across an ad network isn't a new concept for publishers, the process of doing so is still difficult, Kiven explained.

"Data collection and data integration is not an easy thing," he said, adding that BrightTag's expansion of its strategic relationship with Yahoo Japan into a multiyear agreement originated because Yahoo Japan wanted to incorporate first- and third-party data into its DMP.

In so doing, Yahoo Japan hopes to tap into new audiences on behalf of its advertiser and agency client base. The benefit for BrightTag is that it will have the positioning to develop new relationships with potential Japan-based clients.

Yahoo Japan's need to add depth to its data is particularly pressing because Japan itself is much further along than other countries in terms of mobile adoption, according to Blane Sims, SVP of products at BrightTag. Marketers need to stay connected to customers that frequently move from mobile handhelds to tablets to POS kiosks, which is why tag management's traditional domain of desktop web browsing has since expanded to include more customer touch points.

"Tag management is important if you believe in digital business analytics," said Ray Wang, chairman and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "Given the high volume of content creation, it's impossible to manage the tags on all of the pages and content [without a tag manager.] Most folks don't know how to optimize tags for SEO and media consumption metrics. Without tag management, you will never have the ability to keep up with the rapid cycles of change in the market."


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