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Brand.net Raises $14 Million for Online Ad Futures Market

One Network Not Focused on Just-in-Time Buying

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The era of eight-figure funding deals for ad networks isn't over -- at least not yet. Brand.net, a San Mateo, Calif., network found by former Yahoo execs, just closed a $14 million funding round led by Focus Ventures.

The ad-network space is saturated and the competition for ad dollars and margins is cutthroat. But while most networks are chasing the latest hot sector -- real-time buying and selling of audience and ad impressions -- Brand.net has taken a page from the TV market and created a futures market for online display and video.

"Most of the industry is focused on the auction-driven spot market," said Chief Operating Officer Andy Atherton, while Brand.net is about "enabling commodity-driven buyers to plan in advance and online media as a more scalable part of their overall media mix."

The funding comes at a time when many observers see coming consolidation in the market with too many players peddling undifferentiated offerings. Since ad networks are all buying on the same exchanges, the game becomes about what proprietary technology or data they can use to target the right impression or consumer.

Brand.net already has its technology built, but will use the funds to expand its sales force and develop a "self-serve" interface for agencies that it plans to roll out in November. The company has raised a total of $27 million over three rounds from InterWest Partners and Norwest Venture Partners in addition to Focus Ventures.

The executive suite consists of six Yahoo veterans including Mr. Atherton and CEO Elizabeth Blair, as well as VPs Melissa Goidel, Ryan Christensen, Madhu Vudali and Matt Gallatin.

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