Israeli video adtech startup, Carambola has closed a $4 million Series A round, led by Pitango Venture Capital. Existing investors, 2B Angels, Plus Ventures and Rutledge Vine Capital, also participated in the round.
Carambola, which was founded back in 2011 and raised a $1 million seed this July, has built a platform to automate the process of making online video content interactive — by scanning the video and using proprietary algorithms to determine contextually relevant additional content to serve up for users to interact with.
The platform does away with the need to manually enter interactive content into the ad unit, making it easier to augment videos with additional content designed to encourage users to spend more time eyeballing the video — such as contextual quizzes, recommendations for recipes, ecommerce offers, information about the host of the show and so on. The idea being that this sort of interactive content is stickier and more engaging for video viewers than traditional video ads (such as pre-roll or interstitials).
On the advertising side, advertisers can either sponsor the content enrichment, use Carambola’s trivia platform for user research, or deploy the tech solely to enrich their existing branded videos in the hopes of making them stickier. Carambola’s interactive unit does not display content automatically but requires users to click to activate it. On average, it said users interact with the unit for 24 seconds.
AOL* used Carambola’s tech for its new Spot On video ad unit, launched in August, applying its interactive sauce to hundreds of thousands of videos from its archive. Since then the startup said the partnership with AOL has “has grown deeper” — exposing its platform to “millions of viewers every month”.
Carambola said it intends to use the new funding to open an office in the U.S. and to scale up its product offering. It’s expecting to forge more partnerships with other large-scale video publishers and brands next year to continue building out its audience.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Rami Beracha, Managing General Partner at Pitango — who now joins Carambola’s Board — noted that online video advertising is “an exponentially growing market”. “Carambola’s platform trigger users to engage with video and enable advertisers to get user’s full attention. We believe in Carambola’s strong team and in the ingenuity lead by the company,” he added.
* Disclosure: AOL is TechCrunch’s parent company. Other online publishers are available