WPP, AwesomenessTV Lead $27 Million Investment in Hispanic Video Net Mitú

Verizon and Maker Studios Investor Upfront Ventures Also Join Funding Round

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WPP has found another digital video network to cozy up to. Already an investor in Fullscreen, the agency holding company has joined DreamWorks Animation's digital video network AwesomenessTV in leading a $27 million funding round in Hispanic-focused Mitú.

Verizon also participated in the funding round, along with Mitú's existing investor Upfront Ventures, which had previously backed Maker Studios, the digital video network that Disney agreed to buy in March 2014. Including this latest round, Mitú has raised $43 million since it launched in April 2012.

Mitú CEO Roy Burstin said the company plans to use the money raised to develop its technology, which monitors how its creators' videos perform and gauges audience behavior, as the company looks to grow its footprint beyond YouTube and its owned-and-operated site to also span social networks like Facebook and internet-connected TV services.

Mitú operates a network of more than 6,000 video creators that appeal primarily to millennial Latino audiences who combine for 2 billion video views each month, according to the company. Mr. Burstin also said the company wants to expand its international footprint, particularly in Latin America, considering the company's target audience.

But as with fellow digital video network Tastemade's funding round announced last month, Mitú's news is as much about who's investing as how much they're investing. While WPP and Verizon each invested through their respective venture investment arms, both deals bring Mitú closer to those companies' motherships.

In the case of WPP, Mr. Burstin said "we hope to leverage the investment to strike interesting conversations with some of their clients on a strategic level," in particular as those companies are looking to understand the digital video space as well as how to market to the booming Hispanic millennial demographic.

At an estimated 17 million Hispanics in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 32 years old, Hispanics account for "one in 5 of the nation's millennials overall," Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center, told Ad Age last year.

It shouldn't be long before Mr. Burstin's hope becomes reality, given WPP's track record. Last week WPP's media-buying arm GroupM announced a multi-year deal with WPP-backed Fullscreen to create a influencer marketing program. Mitú just so happens to be testing its own influencer marketing platform, Mituberos, that matches brands with its creators to co-produce campaigns. Mitú has worked with brands including Ford, Nestle and Pepsi.

Mitú already had a relationship with Verizon, producing shows for the telecom giant's Go90 mobile video service. And Mr. Burstin hopes to use that relationship and the new investment to "work more closely with them."

As for AwesomenessTV, Mitú wants to pick up some tips from the DreamWorks Animation-owned network -- one of the earliest YouTube network success stories -- in producing content for millennial audiences and for brands across various platforms, including traditional TV. "Those guys have really done remarkable work in terms of building a worldwide content distribution platform that is digital-first. We can learn from them and leverage their know-how," Mr. Burstin said.

As part of the funding round, an exec from WPP and one from AwesomenessTV will join Mitú's board of directors, though the companies are still finalizing which individuals will take the seats, according to Mr. Burstin.

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