SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Unity, a provider of AI influencer marketing platform to small and medium businesses, has secured $1 million in funding.
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Unity today launched out of private beta to bring its AI influencer marketing platform to small and medium businesses who have been locked out of the market until now.
The company was founded by Patrick Ip, a former Google Innovation Lead and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Jacobo Lumbreras, an AI engineer who has built HR and marketing automation products at Yoi Corp. The two merged their talents in advertising and AI to build Unity.
Unity is also announcing that it has raised $1 million from investors including Jonathan Berent, Director of Global Customer Experience at Google, and a former colleague of Ip's.
Just as Google used automation to scale AdWords and create a self-serve platform, Unity is aiming to do the same for influencer marketing. The industry is growing at a rapid clip, with Instagram alone projected to reach $2 billion by 2019, according to a recent study by US agency Mediakix.
Influencer marketing is normally a high touch process that costs a brand at least $10,000, and requires deep expertise to manage and optimize campaigns. This puts the channel out of reach for most small and medium businesses. Unity's campaign budgets start at just $200 and require no manual management or experience from the advertiser. While advertisers using other platforms normally have to search for influencers and develop their own lists of targets, Unity's platform automates that process by matching advertisers with influencers who are the best fit for their brand and managing the entire operation for them. Further, Unity guarantees traffic for their customers, which is not offered by any existing players but is critical for SMBs with limited marketing budgets.
"We've barely scratched the surface of what's possible for the influencer market as SMBs represent a massive portion of US businesses," said Ip. "By giving these companies access to influencer marketing, we unlock millions of dollars of untapped ad spend."
The platform has over 70,000 influencers and has been used by brands like Rip Van, the snack food company that has a cult following in San Francisco and has gained a national presence after their waffle snack product launched in all 12,000 Starbucks locations in the US and Canada. When a brand like Rip Van comes to Unity, they simply fill out a short questionnaire, and then are automatically matched with relevant influencers. Advertisers do not need to manually search for influencers or make lists; Unity takes care of everything in the background by matching them with the best influencers and negotiating on their behalf. All an advertiser needs to do is approve the content they like best.
From there, the system measures their campaign and learns which types of creatives perform best. For example, the system may learn that photos of the product at a certain angle have the highest engagement and make a recommendation for the next post based on that finding.
"We were impressed by how seamless and quickly the influencer matching process was conducted," said Rip, Founder at Rip Van. "But even more important to us was how authentic the campaigns felt. The system matched us with influencers who crafted posts that felt true to our brand as well as their followers."
Unity will use its new funding to continue developing their technology, with a particular emphasis on features that will continue to make the influencer marketing process simpler and faster.
Unity is an artificial intelligence (AI) matching technology for businesses to launch automated influencer advertising campaigns at scale. Using AI, we've created the first end-to-end, self service solution that allows advertisers to name their own price. Our technology solves the ongoing challenge that businesses have to differentiate themselves online. Unity enables businesses to create high quality content that will both reach and engage the right audience, allowing them to break through all the noise that exists online today. For more information, please visit http://www.unityinfluence.com