London martech startup Ad-Lib raises $6m

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Ad-Lib, a London-based marketing technology SaaS platform said it has closed $6million in Series A funding from San Francisco-based Fog City Capital. 

The company helps global brands manage and automate the production and activation of creative assets in their digital advertising worldwide.

Ad-Lib will use the funding to further strengthen its technology platform, which uses AI to streamline creative ad production workflows, automate digital asset creation and optimise creative performance across display, video, social, native and mobile. 

The company will also build out its senior leadership team, expand further in EMEA and APAC and launch its US headquarters in New York. 

Biggest challenges

Technology has penetrated the media buying, analytics and ad-serving space, but for many brands their biggest challenge is the requirement for creative cross-channel, cross-format and cross location. 

For the big creative agencies, digital production is an afterthought and still billed on an hourly rate. The large production agencies have no incentive to innovate. Ad-Lib solves these problems. 

Ad_Lib said that with 86% of consumers saying relevance plays a role in purchasing decisions, personalisation is a key objective for marketers. 

But, although media buying is now highly personalised with audience-based targeting, the creative side has not kept pace, with data showing only 3% of ads personalise the creative for each audience segment. 

Furthermore, although 70% of digital campaign performance is attributed to creative quality, creative production receives only 10% of campaign budgets – the majority of which is allocated to TV despite declining media investment in this channel. 

To make matters worse, Ad-Lib said that creative processes across diverse geographies, languages, formats and buying platforms are slow, expensive and difficult to manage. 

Ad-Lib claims to be uniquely positioned to address these structural inefficiencies and enable brands to improve digital campaign performance through better creative. 

AI technology

The company’s intelligence platform streamlines digital ad workflows, automating standard processes to reduce the time it takes to build campaigns. 

Through AI, creative can be reformatted at speed and scale, and automatically edited to suit the location and audience it is intended for, saving production costs and ensuring creative is highly targeted. 

These campaigns are then analysed in real-time, delivering accurate and meaningful insights that drive future performance. Ad-Lib’s technology sits above the major buying infrastructure, streamlining the delivery of campaigns by removing the need for a separate ad server. 

Ad-Lib is a certified creative partner of Google and Facebook and its platform is directly integrated into Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google Marketing Platform. 

Ad-Lib was founded in 2017 by CEO Oli Marlow Thomas, formerly Creative Lead at Google. 

Its management team is made up of creative and mar-tech industry heavyweights from Google, Essence and Criteo. 

The company employs 80 staff in offices in London, Madrid, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Manila. 

Ad-Lib is currently growing more than 300% year-on-year, driving efficiencies of 78% time saving and 59% production cost saving for some of the world’s biggest brands such as Nestle, J&J and Virgin, whilst also improving their campaign performance by up to 77%.

“There is no technology infrastructure in the creative space, meaning digital ads that reach the biggest audiences continue to be poor quality”, said Oli Marlow-Thomas, Ad-Lib’s founder and CEO. 

“With all other aspects of media buying already automated, creative is becoming the differentiating optimisation tool that brands rely on to stand out. 

“The landscape is changing, TV ad views are declining in favour of digital, but the creative is falling behind”. 

“With Fog City Capital’s backing we’ll build on our success to date by taking our proposition to the US and driving further innovations in our technology to enable marketers to engage with consumers creatively in the ever evolving digital ad space”. 

Ravi Bhaskaran, Managing Partner at Fog City, added: “We were blown away by Ad-Lib’s technology and the rapid traction they are getting with large brands for whom the seamless integration of the creative and media buying processes in their advertising is a major pain point. 

“We’re delighted to back Oli and his incredible team of creative and mar-tech experts in their ambitious plans to further disrupt this space.” 

Fog City Capital is a private equity firm that invests in middle market technology and services companies, with a specific focus on the advertising and marketing value chain.

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