Digitalsmiths Gets $6M for Video Ads

Digitalsmiths, with $6 million in hand, is the latest company to enter the contextual video ad market. Just yesterday we had ribbed the video search engine blinkx for being relatively late to market. Well, now there’s another new player on the scene, this one promising its image recognition chops will do the trick to match video to relevant ads. And, fittingly, with all the comparison’s to Google’s AdSense platform, Digitalsmiths’ product is called VideoSense.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina-based Digitalsmiths has for years provided indexing systems to television and film studios to help them more easily license scenes from shows and movies. The company has tried to bring lessons from that business into an automated process that combines in-house image recognition technology and licensed speech-to-text technology.

The product, promises Digitalsmiths CEO Ben Weinberger, differentiates itself from the competition because it is simply a media player plug-in, and doesn’t require customers to change anything about their existing media player, ad network, and ad format setups.

It is currently in testing with multiple customers, said Weinberger, though he would only identify them as “all names you would recognize.” “No question the contextually targeted ads are performing better than the non-targeted ads,” he said.

The $6 million Series A round came from The Aurora Funds, Chrysalis Ventures and individual investors, and added to a small angel round the company had previously taken. Weinberger said the 15-person company would use the funding to staff up sales, engineering, and marketing.

While are tons of new players on the intelligent video ad-matching scene, for now we don’t see any big differentiation. At this point, few of the competitors even have customers, so it’s hard to say who will end up owning the market.