Polar, the industry leader in Social Display advertising, announced today that it has received a significant investment of an undisclosed amount from Fort Point Capital. As part of the investment, the company has changed its name to Nova, previously the operating name of its agency-focused business. Nova will now serve the company’s entire client base, including publishers, agencies, brands, ad tech platforms, CTV, and retail media.
From CEO and founder Kunal Gupta, “We pioneered the Social Display category, creating the technology for brands to run their best-performing social posts in the open web’s ad inventory,” He continued, “Social Display continues to unlock huge performance gains for advertisers. Now, with this investment from Fort Point, we’re taking what we’ve learned from delivering over 75 billion ad impressions and using those insights to expand our platform of performance-based ad products.”
As part of the investment and company rebrand, Nova has promoted Matt Crenshaw to the role of president. Kendall Schultz has been promoted to general manager for publishers. Leah Malone remains global chief revenue officer.
Fort Point Capital partner Brooke Ablon commented, “We’re excited to partner with the Nova management team as they expand their Social Display products into a broader performance enhancement platform for advertisers. It’s more important than ever that advertisers see clear returns from their digital campaigns. Nova makes this possible through its growing portfolio of creative formats and automation tools.”
Pioneering Social Display on the Open Web
Advertisers have fueled a steady wave of growth on the social platforms, spending over $160 billion on Facebook alone last year. At the same time, ad spend on the open web has remained stagnant at around $60 billion per year. Nova recognized this innovation gap two years ago and began offering software to agencies, publishers, and brands to convert social posts into standard IAB ad units in one click that could run programmatically on the open web.
“The value of Social Display was clear from day one,” said Crenshaw. “Brands create tons of content and ads for social media. They quickly see what performs. Once they see that data, they want to do more with their top performers, amplifying them in new ways in new environments. The missing piece has always been the creative automation. Across the major social platforms, there are 74 unique ad formats. Before Nova, advertisers didn’t have a way to easily convert each one of these formats into a standard IAB format. Our Social Display tools were a big ‘a-ha’ moment for many advertisers who already understood the power of social.”
Nova was built on the premise that advertisers don’t have to make a trade-off between efficiency and effectiveness. Social Display allows advertisers to automatically convert a social post into a display ad in under a minute. With Social Display formats, Nova has seen advertisers benefit from higher engagement than with standard display ads (5X - 7X higher clickthrough rates, on average) as well as increased dwell time and viewability with each ad (3X higher than what advertisers see on the social platforms).
A Mission to Unlock the Next Growth Driver for Digital Advertising
Nova believes that digital advertising is ripe for reinvention, and it won’t come from data. In the last decade, advertisers, agencies, and publishers have obsessed over user and targeting data. Several signs now point to the end of the ‘decade of data’, including Apple’s deprecation of user-level data post iOS 14.5, the elimination of user cookies, along with increased regulation around privacy and consumer data.
While user data and targeting get the lion’s share of the credit for digital advertising’s growth (as well as its challenges), the underlying industry driver has been automation. The automation of IAB ad formats created a standardized marketplace to sell ads. Automation from programmatic providers created the bidding systems to buy and sell massive numbers of digital ads in real-time.
The last frontier in the automation of digital ads is the creative itself. Creative is often a laborious process, with advertisers, agencies, and publishers spending a disproportionate amount of time resizing, reshooting, and republishing. Nova solves the creative automation question, bringing automation farther upstream in the ad delivery process to reduce creative production time by as much as 90%, while amplifying the ad formats that are proven to perform best.
"The social platforms have proven that better creative can drive better results for advertisers,” said Crenshaw, citing research from Nielsen showing that creative contributes more to ad effectiveness than any other factor. “But no one has truly solved for creative automation on the open web. The data game has become a game of inches. When it comes to creative and driving better advertising outcomes with best-in-class formats and better messaging, there are still miles to go.”
New Platform, New Products: Providing Performance-Based Ad Formats
Fueled by the Fort Point Capital investment, Nova is focused on evolving from pure Social Display formats to a more robust platform of ad formats that are purpose-built for specific advertising outcomes and verticals.
The company highlighted three of these ad collections that are now available:
Video Formats- multiple video formats, including units designed for online video and CTV. The Video collection offers the ability to run VAST-enabled video through online video players, via in-banner standard units or vertical video, as well as on large format TV screens.
Shoppable Formats- Nova now offers a full Shoppable collection serving mid- to lower-funnel campaigns. Building on the classic carousel format common on social media, Nova offers formats that are built to pack multiple images and lead generating opportunities into the same ad unit.
Stories Formats- Nova has expanded its core stories format, with the ability to repurpose existing stories from social media or to allow its partners to easily build new stories from scratch.
“By taking the best-performing creative units and standardizing them into products that are tailored for specific audiences and industries, we’re now able to give our partners a head start, providing clear recommendations on exactly what format can achieve their individual campaign goals,” said Crenshaw. “This is a major breakthrough as we evolve from being a company known for delivering new capabilities to also being a company that can drive clear and quantifiable business outcomes.”
All of Nova’s formats will continue to be available for publishers promoting Branded Content, in addition to partners fulfilling standard display and programmatic campaigns.
Introducing Creative Automation for CTV
Nova has launched the industry’s first scalable solution for creative automation with Connected TV. Building on its core technology, Nova can now convert a video asset or any video post on social media into a VAST-enabled ad to run online or on CTV.
“With the promise of addressability, CTV has the potential to onboard thousands of small to midsize advertisers,” said Crenshaw. “But the cost of creative is a barrier. Especially in this economic climate, advertisers aren’t looking to spend a fortune shooting a bespoke television commercial. They need to get more value out of what’s already working, which means a more cost effective extension of their social feeds into CTV.
”We have a great partnership with Nova led with many campaigns with Nova’s creative formats that have seen tremendous success,” said Mike Juhas, SVP, Client and Optimization Services of Digital Remedy. “We’re excited as Nova pushes beyond social display into new directions offering our partners powerful creative solutions as part of Digital Remedy's unmatched performance CTV and video solutions.”
To learn more about any of these formats or technologies, contact us today.