At the hand of instant
messaging or social networking (or some combination of the two), people have been predicting the end of email for years.
What they don't get, however, is that email is “the
central ingredient of the Internet,” according to Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent -- a start-up that’s merging real-time programmatic ad buying and selling with email marketing.
“Your email is your identity,” said Hendricks. “Even Facebook requires your email before signing in.”
This week, LiveIntent raised a fresh $20 million in funding led
by Bullpen Capital, with Alpha Capital, Valor Capital and Brazilian investors VR. With the Series C funding, LiveIntent is moving to a bigger office in downtown Manhattan and hiring more sales staff
and engineers, said Hendricks. It also plans to invest heavily in “education,” which will highlight the potential of modern email marketing.
It’s likely that
email cynics have failed to factor in programmatic innovations from companies like LiveIntent, which offers an ad exchange for real-time, automated buying and selling of ads in marketing emails.
Today, when a reader opens one the roughly 3,000 newsletters within LiveIntent’s network -- which it claims reaches about 55 million people a month -- advertisers can bid in
real-time for placement within that newsletter. Similar to display advertising, LiveIntent also offers tools for audience targeting and optimization. “We’ve been doing custom
audience targeting for more than a year,” Hendricks said.
Brands and publishers are buying into this new breed of email marketing. According to LiveIntent, clients include
Chrysler, Kraft and La Quinta, as well as AOL, CondeNast, Hearst, The Weather Channel, and WSJ.
In 2013, spending on email marketing grew by 11.1%, according to the Winterberry Group
-- just shy of search spending (12.9%), but far less than social technology and services (50%).
Yet, despite having scaled years prior to the emergence of social channels, Hendricks
still sees big growth potential for email marketing. “Email [marketing] is not about sending emails,” he said. “It’s about the email address, which is the key that
unlocks the Internet. What’s really exciting is combining that power ... with custom audience targeting.”