By Sahil Patel 

Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel Corp., has led a new $18 million Series B investment round in Iris.TV Inc., a data technology company that provides tools to help marketers and others understand the content of individual videos for the purposes of ad targeting and measurement.

The investment comes as ad spending in streaming TV continues to rise, driven by the continuing shift in viewership away from traditional television and toward streaming services.

Advertisers are seeking improvements in their ability to target viewers on streaming TV platforms and apps, particularly as increasingly strict privacy rules limit the ad industry's ability to track and target users based on their identities. Marketers also want better visibility into the types of content near which their ads run.

Founded in 2013, Iris.TV focuses on analyzing the topics and nature of individual videos -- whether it is a movie or an episode of a TV show on a streaming service or a shorter video clip on a website or mobile app. Its information lets advertisers target and measure ads based on contextual relevance rather than the viewer's identity or tracked behavior, according to executives.

"As cookies and third-party identifiers start to decline, the traditional signal for today's marketers will erode," said Richie Hyden, co-founder and chief operating officer of Iris.TV. "It won't disappear completely, but it will never be the same."

While Iris.TV also provides data on videos that can be viewed on computers and mobile phones, executives hope that a big part of its future growth will be in the data it provides for content on streaming TV apps, a fast-growing area of the advertising industry.

Intel Capital, which spends about $300 million to $500 million a year on roughly 30 new investments and additional investments in existing deals, was interested in Iris.TV in part because of the boom in streaming, said Andy Fligel, a senior managing director at the firm.

"We are looking at companies that are addressing large, growing markets, " Mr. Fligel said. "Video streaming and connected TV meets that definition -- that's a trend that we think will be unabated for years to come."

Ad spending in the U.S. on internet-connected TV sets, for instance, is expected to total $13.41 billion this year, up from $9.03 billion in 2020, according to estimates from the research firm eMarketer.

As a result, tech giants such as Amazon.com Inc., legacy media companies including ViacomCBS Inc. and Fox Corp., and TV manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Vizio Inc. have been seeking to capture the ad dollars that are following viewers into streaming.

But streaming-TV advertisers have a more limited view of the surrounding content than in online advertising, where webpages can be scraped to determine what appears near their ads.

"In connected TV, there is no web page," said Field Garthwaite, co-founder and chief executive of Iris.TV. "You need to have access to the raw asset, which is the content -- and in this case it's not articles, but videos."

Iris.TV said it would use the new capital to invest more in its platform and pursue more partnerships and integrations with other companies in the ad tech ecosystem.

Other participants in the funding round include WISE Ventures, Quest Venture Partners and Mirae Asset Venture Investment. Ad technology executives Mike Baker, who founded Dataxu, which was acquired by Roku Inc. in 2019, and Mike Shehan, founder and chief executive of SpotX Inc., which was acquired by Magnite Inc. this year, also participated.

Write to Sahil Patel at sahil.patel@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 07, 2021 06:14 ET (10:14 GMT)

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