Featured Startup Pitch: Vizu—Pioneering innovative brand advertising measurement for ‘affordable real time brand lift data’
Headquarters: San Francisco
Year Founded: 2005
Investors: Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson, Greycroft, Innovia and angel investors including Ron Conway, Mike Maples, and Esther Dyson
Company Description: "Vizu measures the effectiveness of your online brand advertising and tells you what is working in real time."
By Dan Beltramo, co-founder and CEO
Department store magnate, John Wannamaker, is famous for saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Vizu answers that question for you.
Broadly speaking there are two types of advertising: Direct Response advertising which attempts to drive immediate, measurable actions such as a website registrations, online purchases, application completions, etc.; and Brand Advertising which attempts to influence your attitudes and opinions about products in the way desired by the advertiser.
In the online environment, measurement of direct response advertising has been a science for many years. Direct response ads have long been measured consistently based on Click Through Rates (CTRs) and Cost Per Actions (CPAs). Brand advertising, on the other hand, was often not measured at all or was measured using lengthy custom market research studies that were often methodologically compromised and only delivered results months after an ad campaign had been completed.
One of the effects of this disparity in measurement quality was that online advertising is dominated by direct response advertising. Brand advertising, which accounts for far more advertising dollars offline than direct response does, is way under-represented online. Vizu’s mission is to give brand advertisers the confidence to advertise online by providing them with the timely information and the systems needed to effectively manage their advertising spending.
Founders’ Story: Vizu originally started with an idea about how to conduct research online much faster, more easily, and more cost effectively than traditional research is conducted. Along the way we identified the more narrowly defined, but huge need for brand advertisers to have a robust, relevant, and timely measurement platform.
As a result, we pioneered the concept of affordable real time brand lift data. We chose brand lift as the metric we wanted to deliver because it is a well understood concept to offline marketers. It was also critical, in our minds, to provide the data in real time so that advertisers can optimize their brand campaigns like that have become accustomed to optimizing their direct response campaigns. We have always put a priority on delivering and affordable service because there is so much value that accrues to advertisers when they measure their advertising consistently rather than picking and choosing special occasions to measure their efforts.
At the time I did not realize it, but addressing this need for online brand advertising analytics was at the intersection of my prior professional experience which was primarily as a brand manager responsible for millions of dollars of annual advertising and in decision support systems and syndicated data services which I built at Instill, now iTrade Networks. Having designed a major in college called Decision Analysis, which dove into all aspects of individual and group decision making, I find brand advertising measurement very engaging because it rests at the intersection of art and science and brand advertising has been notoriously difficult to quantify historically.
Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Since launching Vizu we have historically done very little marketing of our flagship Ad Catalyst service. Instead we have tended to rely on direct sales and word of mouth. Fortunately, the results are so compelling that the word-of-mouth has been fantastic. In fact we can see very clearly how the word of mouth as spread throughout the digital media landscape.
We began by selling to online Publishers who use Vizu’s data as a sales tool to more effectively convey the value of the impressions and audience that they deliver to advertisers than measures like CTRs or engagement can. Once the publishers shared this data with their clients, the media agencies, the media agencies began to want Vizu’s real time brand lift data to measure ad campaigns that span multiple publishers. Now that the media agencies have been sharing our data with their brand clients and partners at creative agencies, we are seeing business expand in both of those areas. Now most of our marketing revolves around joint efforts with our clients who are seeing great results based on the actions they have taken as a result of our data.
Business Model: We sell our technology via annual licenses that are based on the number of campaigns our clients expect to measure, the number of measurement solutions clients would like to access, and the number of parties that will be accessing the platform.
ETC: We were founded in 2005 and are based in San Francisco, California. Our investors include Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson, Greycroft, Innovia and angel investors including Ron Conway, Mike Maples, and Esther Dyson. Currently we are not looking to raise funds; however, we are generating rather rapid growth right now and may choose to pour some more gas on the fire at some point. We are, however, always looking for great people. In particular we are currently looking for engineers, media software sales people, digital media client service individuals, and online ad operations personnel.
Vizu Corporation (www.brandlift.com) brings the same metrics used to measure and optimize brand advertising effectiveness in the offline world to the online medium. By providing the first real-time, enterprise technology platform that allows brand advertisers and their partners in the digital media ecosystem – publishers, ad networks, exchanges, and demand side platforms – to collaborate around measuring and optimizing Brand Lift metrics, Vizu enables its customers to move their target audience through the purchase funnel, from building awareness to creating intent and preference. Vizu’s brand advertising effectiveness platform is used by over 60 percent of Advertising Age’s Top 100 Brand Advertisers and Comscore’s Top 50 Media properties to support all key aspects of the advertising lifecycle, including media buying, audience profiling, and Brand Lift optimization. The company was a 2011 AlwaysOn OnMedia Top 100 winner in the advertising analytics category.
Vizu – www.vizu.com