Some believe that online marketing and advertising, as we understand it today, is slowly dying and being replaced by something else: the rise of the influencer/creator. Today, one of the companies hoping to make that shift is announcing funding and a merger and acquisition move to cement its place in this new economy.
Mavrck, which operates a platform for brands and media companies to find and interact with influencers for marketing campaigns, raised an additional $135 million, and with that, it scoops up Later, a startup which first made a name for itself with a social media scheduling tool for Instagram (its original name was Latergramme), but has since branched out into other social platforms like Pinterest, TikTok and LinkedIn, a Linkin.bio service and analytics allowing the creator to track engagement and other metrics.
The Linkin.bio service alone is an interesting asset to acquire: Linktree, a big competitor in this field, raised $110 million last month for a valuation of $1.3 billion.
The Canadian startup Later hadn’t raised a lot of money (less than $2 million, per Crunchbase) but it was already an influence in the world of influencers: it has been around since 2014, and the Linkin.bio service (launched in 2016) saw over 2 billion page views, with nearly 7 million creators and small businesses using Later’s broader product suite for social content planning and analysis. Mavrck, for his part, says he works with some 5,000 marketers across 500 consumer brands to connect with some 3 million creators, shelling out more than $200 million to date.
Mavrck and Later will work independently for now, but there will also be more integration: for starters, Linkin.bio clicks/engagements analytics will now appear in the Mavrck dashboard.
This latest equity investment comes from a single investor, Summit Partners, which was also the sole investor when Mavrck raised $120 million just four months ago, in December last year. That and Linktree’s assessment both speak to the heat of so-called creator economy right now, though Mavrck isn’t adding more fuel to that fire by disclosing his own assessment today.
Like it or not (and despite the viral buzz that sometimes seems inevitable, many don’t), the creator economy is a fascinating force in the world of marketing, social media and, to be honest, the mainstream Internet in general. Social media platforms, both those that are mainstream but also those that focus heavily on particular interests or demographics, now collectively have billions of users (over 4.2 billion), and some claim that they are driving the consumer Internet today.
But what drives these social platforms? Sometimes it’s about engaging with friends, but more and more it’s about peeking into the lives of people you don’t really know at all, who create entertaining content or thought-provoking, or boring but engaging anyway. They become the glue of how people use services like Instagram. Your friends may not post all the time, or may not be as interesting, but you can always count on key and reliable creators to keep the timeline running, and when you haven’t worked Instagram (or another platform) is ready and willing to suggest content and people to follow.
This in turn is becoming prime real estate for marketing and advertising, especially at a time when more standard advertising and marketing formats are in the spotlight as to how data is tracked on the internet. People became less satisfied with all this tracking, and regulators followed; it’s possible to turn everything off in many places (not all), but then that means the format is less valuable to buyers and ad publishers. Strategic placement of products or services with influencers bypasses all of this, however.
It’s for this reason that Mavrck and companies like her believe that while some adtech and martech games will seek to incorporate more tools into their platforms, to help media buyers engage with this economy as part of of their larger expenditures, it’s likely to be a big enough opportunity financially – and operationally and culturally – to remain a salient business.
“The creator economy is growing fast enough for this to be a standalone solution,” CEO and co-founder Lyle Stevens said in an interview. He noted that the overall space has grown by more than 40% in the last year and that while there are some 50 million creators in the world today, they expect around 1 billion people will identify as creators by 2030. “The majority of the class will be creators and they will be the focal point,” he added. “For brands, [connecting with them] won’t be nice to have but a necessity to stay relevant. Brand spend has grown an average of 114% since 2020, he noted, further evidence of the growth.
It will also inevitably spill over beyond the social, which may well find itself over time, potentially also falling into disuse. (Hard to believe but you never know.) Stevens sees currents in virtual reality, for example, “will radically change the landscape.” We’ve also seen several startups targeting creators with the ability to build gaming experiences as another area where creators can expand their own brands and influence.
“We’ve built a phenomenal platform designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs manage their digital marketing, commerce, and customer relationships all in one place. Our notable scale is a result of the commitment we have placed in our role within this ecosystem,” said Roger Patterson, co-founder and CEO of Later, in a statement. “Later’s industry-leading technology, combined with Mavrck’s enterprise social proof platform, will extend this value even further. Together, we will cultivate a symbiotic relationship between creators and brands, helping both achieve meaningful results to grow their businesses. »
“Together, we believe Later and Mavrck can empower both sides of this ecosystem – content creators and brands looking to leverage their influence – with solutions and at a scale never before seen in the creator economy,” added Michael Medici, MD at Summit. The partners. “We look forward to working with Lyle, Roger and the entire team on their mission to solve an important industry problem for creators and marketers – and ultimately drive better business results. for both.”