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Social Ad Targeter Media6degrees Raises $17 Million Second Round

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Social media audience data provider Media6Degrees has closed a $17 million second round from Menlo Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners and Venrock. The New York company, which emphasizes ad targeting through anonymous URL data — and not through users’ social graph, as I had assumed — as opposed to catering to advertisers’ traditional reliance on demographics data, will use the new capital to invest in building up its staff and improving its technology. The company also wants to extend its focus from performance-based display ads to optimization services for both marketers and publishers.

The company previously raised a $9.8 million first round from U.S. Venture Partners and various angel investors in the summer of 2009. That fall, the company hired former Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Analytics exec Tom Phillips as CEO. Phillips, a publishing vet who helped found the satirical and snarky Spy magazine back in the 1980s, replaced Joe Doran, who remained as an advisor.

In a statement, Phillips, said that Media6degrees’ run-rate in Q4 will exceed $30 million and has over 110 brand name clients. The company also has around 60 staffers, and in addition to New York, it has outposts in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and London.

Although it targets ads according to users’ social connections, it does not use data from Facebook or other social nets. Rather it just relies on URL data that isn’t personally identifiable, but instead of looking at demographics, such as trying to figure out a person’s age or gender, it tries to zero in the social media aspects of like-minded users who might visit a particular set of sites.