Unilever Ventures and TVC Capital led a $12 Million Series B fundraising round in CreatorIQ’s SocialEdge Inc. The start-up’s Enterprise Creator Cloud platform is designed to help advertisers find influencers, manage their work and measure the results.
Unilever Ventures has a diverse portfolio, which includes companies such as skin-care brand True Botanicals, daily-delivery service Milkbasket and ad-targeting firm Blis. This is the first of its kind investment for the company.
“Unilever wanted to better grasp the tools and techniques at play in influencer marketing,” said Luis Di Como, Executive Vice President for Global Media at Unilever. “CreatorIQ also provides services in the detection of fraud,” he added. “And if there is a financial return, there will be an added value.”
This new funding round values CreatorIQ in the range of $40 Million to $50 Million, which is roughly four times its previous valuation. The company plans to use the money to pull in additional measurement and data, pursue further growth and double staff this year to about 160 people.
Unilever already uses CreatorIQ, among other tools, to help handle proliferating influencer relationships. Its executives believe consumers listen to influencers in a way they no longer do to marketers speaking for themselves.
“We very much love working with influencers because, as you know, they’re very influential in driving consumer opinion,” said Vasiliki Petrou, Executive Vice President at Unilever and Group Chief Executive at Unilever Prestige.
Last year, Unilever complained about how poor transparency, a lack of accountability and fraud became increasingly common in influencer marketing.
“At best it’s misleading, at worst it’s corrupt,” Unilever’s former Marketing Chief Keith Weed said last June, as he prepared to call out the problems at the Cannes ad festival, the marketing industry’s most prominent gathering.
Weed also called for social-media platforms to do more to help fight problems with influencers. “Some platforms already do things in this area, but they have to do it at a larger scale and with more transparency, so the industry can be reassured that the influencers on their platforms are not using these practices,” he said.
Now, Unilever says the influencer ecosystem has improved since its call for action last year. Platforms such as Twitter and Instagram say they have deactivated millions of fake followers over the past year in an attempt to restore trust in the counts.
With this investment, Unilever aims to better understand influencer marketing and participate as CreatorIQ continues to grow.