Quantcast to Build Products, Staff with $20 Million Funding Round

As stock investors fret over continued instability in worldwide markets, investors in firms like Quantcast seem unfazed. The online audience measurement underdog plans to bulk up its publisher-aimed offerings and supplement its staff with the help of a series B funding round of $20 million.

“We’ll continue to expand the scale and the richness of our quantified publisher program,” Quantcast CEO and co-founder Konrad Feldman told ClickZ News. That richness will come in the form of more variations on site audience characteristics measured by the company. Currently, the firm measures things like audience gender makeup, and which site visitors are “Passers-By” as opposed to “Addicts.”

By providing a robust data set of publisher audiences, Quantcast hopes that “those publishers are able to best position themselves in front of advertisers,” said Feldman. So far around 20,000 publishers and millions of Web sites are included in its quantified publisher program, which tags Web sites and widgets to directly track visitors and their interactions with those media.

Quantcast combines the data it tracks directly with panel-based data. The goal is to continue increasing the number of publishers it gathers data from directly, which should help to legitimize its research. But the true pay-off for the site publishers, according to Feldman, will be when advertisers rely on that research to make digital media planning decisions.

Making its research and the mechanisms for using it available to advertisers could lead to monetization down the road. “Certainly we see that as our business opportunity,” said Feldman, stressing the company will continue to offer its research to publishers free of charge.

Hiring people to develop research offerings and improve the means of accessing and navigating its data is also on the post-funding agenda for the company, which will be adding people “across the board” over the next year, according to Feldman.

“We’ll continue to hire engineers and scientists,” he continued, noting a range of skill sets is necessary because the measurement system is “very computationally intensive.” Analysts and product managers will also likely be hired.

Quantcast will need to fill out its industry-facing staff as well. “We want to make sure the science and the math is applied properly,” added Feldman. So, the company plans to “add more people who have the industry and domain expertise,” he said, alluding to the recent addition of Adam Gerber as CMO. Before joining Quantcast, Gerber was VP for advertising products and strategy at Web video tech firm Brightcove.

Feldman wouldn’t say how many people will be added to the current staff of about 30 people, most of whom work out of the San Francisco office. The company also may consider opening offices in new locations beyond its New York and San Francisco digs.

“We raised the money to spend it,” Feldman said.

The $20 million investment round marks the second for the firm, which previously scored $6 million in initial funding. All of the company’s investment firms are U.S.-based, according to Feldman.

Quantcast is among several online ad industry startups garnering cash infusions from venture capitalists of late, in the midst of the recent economic downturn. Feldman believes the state of the U.S. and world economies won’t necessarily have much bearing on venture funding or M&A activity in the digital ad industry.

“You have to remember that lots of M&A activity and all venture activity is focused on a longer time horizon,” said Feldman. “In the long term, the $70 billion of advertising that is on television will migrate to digital formats,” he added, noting the firms making the tools that ease the flow of ad dollars from traditional to digital media have a good chance for success.

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