Kiptronic Takes $4M for Ad Platform

Kiptronic, a San Francisco-based startup that coordinates dynamic ad insertion for audio and video podcasts, will announce today or tomorrow that it has raised $4 million in venture capital funding. The Series A round was led by Blueprint Ventures and Prism VentureWorks, and included existing angel investors.

KiptronicWhile we’ve been especially bullish on the potential for advertising in streamed video, Kiptronic plays in the world of downloads. We can see ads for downloads becoming especially useful as larger media companies put their stuff online (please don’t make us pay for podcasts!), but that’s not to say such companies will turn to a low-profile startup.

So far, Kiptronic has pieced together an sizable network of podcasts, reporting 3,000 to 4,000 podcasts on the platform accounting for 47 million total show downloads in the fourth quarter of 2006. That’s mostly independents, but the company recently signed its first television and print deals, Kiptronic CEO Jonathan Cobb told NewTeeVee last week.

That’s not to say podcast upstarts aren’t doing well for themselves. One of Kiptronic’s top performers, the ESL podcast, sees over a million and a half downloads per month, largely from business travelers, according to Cobb.

However, he said, Kiptronic has not yet had the resources to seek out advertisements or sponsors for its smaller podcasters — or perhaps some of them are not good fits for advertisers. The company has access to independents through a partnership with podcast host Liberated Syndication.

Kiptronic’s ad sales, which are not automated, range from a flat rate for tracking and reporting for large publishers who have their own ad sales team, to a full placement and tracking service paid through commissions. According to Cobb, podcasters take 60 to 75 percent of revenue.

Cobb contended Kiptronic’s method has advantages over Podbridge, which requires listeners to download a client-side plug-in, Podtrac, which redirects podcasts through its own site for tracking and advertising, and Podshow, which gets involved in media ownership.

“We’re not about hosting media or promoting media or becoming a media brand in and of ourselves,” he said. “We’re about enabling media brands.”

“We’re looking to establish a marketplace for the long tail,” said Paul O’Brien, a venture partner at Prism VentureWorks, who has joined Kiptronic’s board. He says he couldn’t ignore the market opportunity after hearing from a source at Apple that the company’s iTunes store had 52 million podcast subscriptions in 2006 (a number we haven’t been able to verify).

Cobb said Kiptronic hopes to use its funding to ramp up efforts on both ends of the spectrum — finding ad partners for independents as well as signing additional radio, television, and print outlets to manage monetization of digital downloads.

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