Israeli video ad startup Carambola raises $1 million to expand into the US

By Erin Griffith , written on July 8, 2013

From The News Desk

Video continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of digital advertising, which might explain why it feels like  video advertising startups have been cropping up overnight. Carambola is one of those startups. Based in Israel, the company has been around for two years but only this week raised outside funding to expand to the US. The company announced a $1 million seed round from Rutledge Vine Capital, and Israeli micro-VC firms 2B-Angels, Plus Ventures, and Explore.

Carambola's ad units are basically like games that aren't completely annoying. In some ways they remind me of those pop-ups from the early 00's that ask you whether a photo of George W. Bush or Britney Spears is the President. Only for a video. However, Carambola's questions are a little less silly and  actually relate to the video they appear on, going for opinions on the actors or at least slightly more difficult questions around the content.

They are more engaging than pop-up ads, too, which helps since engagement is ultimately what matters to advertisers. Users that see and interact with Carambola's ads spend an average of 26.4 seconds with it, increasingly brand awareness by 39.5 percent, the company says. That's higher than the recall of a pre-roll ad, which is closer to 17.5 percent. Advertisers can use the content on video content from its publisher network or to enrich their own videos.

Oh, and they're calling it native, of course. The ads exist inside content and they look like content (even if they don't  exactly match the video unit, as some native purists require), so depending on what your definition of native is, I guess this qualifies. It's "pull" advertising rather than "push," meaning users must choose to engage with the ad rather than have it forced upon them. It is essentially a more advanced version of the layovers and in-video pop-ups that appear on YouTube videos. Likely more expensive, too.

The idea is to make content-like ads which get content-like engagement scalable without requiring an ad agency or media buyer on the other end buying each unit. Naturally plenty of others are looking to solve this problem with various solutions. Carabola's competitors for ad spend include, Wirewax, Wiewbix, Jivox, Video clix,Innovid and Clickberry.

With it's latest round of funding, Carambola will expand to the US via New York. The company, formed in 2011, was a member of Tel Aviv's 8200 EISP accelerator.