NetworkPlay.in, an audience focused vertical ad network company, has announced that it has raised undisclosed seed funding from Capital18 (Network18's VC/PE arm) and Goosefish Media Ventures. The firm has also announced the launch of its first two verticals today, which will be travel and women. But the initial brand names of GoSindbad and DivaNation have been dropped.
NetworkPlay is targeting brand advertisers. In a release the firm said that the verticals are built around the company's core philosophy of building categories around a specific audience base which can help brand advertisers reach their desired consumers effectively.
Though the travel vertical is operational now, the women portal will take time. The travel platform presently has 15 brands which include Geojit Financial Services Ltd, ICICI Wealth Management, Hyundai etc who are advertising on the other travel portals.
Other verticals it is looking at are - business, technology, news, shopping, social media, and entertainment - and will be launched by first quarter of 2009. The team at NetworkPlay constitutes of ex-Yahoo employees. Currently there are 8 people in the team in Delhi and Mumbai.
NetworkPlay is also developing proprietary ad serving platform that would focus on yield maximization for publishers in a bid environment. The launch of the platform will be in the second quarter of 2009.
Rammohan Sundaram, who was the National Sales Manager of Yahoo, is the founder and MD of NetworkPlay. He says that ad networks today sell inventory without differentiation and that is where NetworkPlay plans to step in. They plan to be much more transparent.
Another similar company in this segment is Bangalore-based Ozone Media. It raised first round of funding from IDG Ventures in June this year. Ozone offers customised service for advertisers across verticals such as news, financial services and entertainment. Their business model is to aggregate small and medium sized publishers who do not have their own sales force and sell the inventory to advertisers. In the US, there are companies like Federated Media (FMPub) and women's ad network Glam Media (which was earlier this year valued at over $1 billion).
Internet advertising in India is expected to grow to Rs 1,000 crore by 2010. Some other companies active in this segment in India are - Komli (funded by Helion Ventures, DFJ and Nexus India Capital), Adchakra (by Percept Holdings), Interactive Avenues (Sequoia Capital India) and Tyroo (part-owned by Yahoo and Quasar). Martin Sorrell WPP has a 75% stake in Quasar.
Goosefish, a subsidiary of Webchutney, also runs websites as part of its potfolio. One is Alootechie, which writes about Indian online industry, and other is BombayBitch. Capital18's most recent investment was series A funding of Ubona Technologies, a voice-based search company. It has also invested in Webchutney and some others like home shopping channel HomeShop18 and multiplex company Star Gaze.