AdKeeper, the startup launched by About.com founder Scott Kurnit this past fall, has raised a whopping $35 million second round funding. Back in September, AdKeeper, which acts as an interactive ad clipping service for users who want to bookmark ads for later retrieval, received an $8 million first round funding from True Ventures, DCM and Spark Capital. This latest round, which brings the New York-based company to a total of $43 million raised, was led by Oak Investment Partners.
While it’s patently true that most people go to great lengths to avoid most advertising, there are those few that consumers really are interested in and so, might want to save as a reminder for a later date. At least that’s the theory behind Kurnit’s company. For example, for someone who might be in the market to buy a car in a few months, a Ford Taurus ad that catches their eye might be something to take a closer look at in another month or two.
“When we started talking to the media guys, they didn’t get it,” Kurnit said in an interview with paidContent. “They said, ‘Who’s going to want to save an ad?’ But the venture capital guys did the due diligence and they saw the potential.” Kurnit said that the company had the research to back up the idea that many users would want to save ads. He pointed to a Nielsen survey of 1,600 web users that found that 56 percent of “general consumers” would save and ad, while 82 percent of self-described early adopters would be interested. But does that mean the wider public will use AdKeeper? “That’s the big question,” Kurnit conceded.
Users don’t have to know about AdKeeper to save an ad. But they do have to notice the small “K” that serves as the “Keep Button” that is embedded in the ad. There aren’t any software, browser extensions, plug-ins or pre-registration — just a “keeper” for “kept” ads that users can later go to AdKeeper once they start building a list of saved ads. The company is still in private beta and plans a full consumer rollout in the middle of Q1.
In other hands, the idea would probably be seen as a little dubious. But given Kurnit’s star power with brands and media executives, he hasn’t had too much trouble signing up blue chip marketers like Allstate, AT&T (NYSE: T), Best Buy, CBS (NYSE: CBS), Ford, Gap, General Mills, JetBlue,Kraft Foods, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Sara Lee, Showtime and others. Kurnit has also lined up several notable media industry veterans as part of an advisory board. Some of the familiar names on the board include NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) CEO and president Janet Robinson, Federated Media’s John Battelle, Brightcove’s Jeremy Allaire, Huffington Post’s Ken Lerer, and MediaLink’s Wenda Harris Millard.
In terms of marketing it to consumers, AdKeeper does have one small advantage — in addition to the $43 million in capital — compared to most of the other ad startups. “This is the ultimate opt-in system,” Kurnit said, noting the current anxiety the online ad business is in over increasing regulatory pressure regarding behavioral targeting. Anything that promises advertisers more permission to serve consumers more promotions without having to deal with accusations of surreptitiousness is sure to win over advertisers. The company should have an answer within the next few months as to whether consumers feel the same.