AdStage, a cross-platform campaign automation tool as well as a Facebook and LinkedIn ads API partner, has raised $6.25 million in Series A financing from Verizon Ventures and myriad other investment firms.
This brings the company to $8.78 million in total funding since its founding less than two years ago. AdStage will predominantly use the new injection to add to its headcount – the San Francisco-based startup now has 17 employees (of which 11 are engineers) and plans to grow to 25 in the months to come.
AdStage is an entirely SaaS-based product and launched initially an “AdStage Express” version of its platform, which “allowed advertisers to build a one-campaign template that would propagate into the four networks we supported – Facebook, Google, Bing and LinkedIn,” according to Sahil Jain, cofounder and CEO of AdStage.
It also released a more advanced product, called AdStage Platform, designed to allow marketers to centrally build and deploy campaigns across multiple ad networks, he said. The funding will also be used for product development, such as a new “Automated Rules” feature for automated bidding, budgeting and day parting for cross-network campaigns.
“Realistically, consolidation is the next step for this (ad tech) space, so we wanted to bring everything that’s useful for an advertiser under one roof and look at it as a workflow solution with third-party integrations,” Jain added.
As with standard enterprise license models, which typically charge clients monthly by user or per “group of seats” at a fixed cost with pricing add-ons for additional features, AdStage sees potential revenue opportunity beyond just standard licensing fees.
“In beta, our automated rules app was 100% free, but maybe down the road, it’s ‘Pay $50 a month for access to this rule,’” Jain hypothesized. “You add things à la carte as people need them and where they can see the direct value. This is the value of SaaS.”
While it’s “tempting” from a revenue standpoint, Jain said, to go the managed services route and take a cut on media spend, “we think (with) true SaaS, the goal is not to take a piece of the optimization you give the customer and that’s why SaaS valuations are high – the cost of acquisition and nurturing are zero in many ways.”
In terms of future development, AdStage will be adding additional networks and third-party integrations. The platform enables cross-network conversion tracking (and has seen $25 million in ad spend flow through the platform over the last three months), but “we’re taking it one step further to do some light attribution,” Jain said.
For instance, if a user “clicks on a Facebook ad, hits your page, but doesn’t convert, (when that) that same user searches through a Google ad and converts, we’ll give Facebook an assist. The next step is [doing] this on every entity level.” This means expanding attribution further to include ad campaigns and key words and other customer touches across devices.
“Our investor Verizon does a lot of this internally where they need to understand the funnel not just from a network perspective, but from an actual device perspective, so it’s interesting to get into attribution not just in native networks themselves, or desktop, but how they then convert in mobile,” Jain said.