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Behavioral marketing platform Wunderkind nabs $76M

Wunderkind, a platform that enables brands to target web visitors through emails, texts and other digital advertising formats, today announced that it raised $76 million in a Series C round led by Neuberger Berman, the financial services company.

Wunderkind's newly appointed CEO, Bill Ingram, says that the tranche -- which brings Wunderkind's total raised to over $150 million -- will be put toward investing in product development, hiring and ongoing market expansion.

"We see this as a real opportunity to expand our products outside of acquisition and conversion, and continue to increase the revenue growth of our customers while continuing to grow Wunderkind," Ingram told TechCrunch in an email interview. "To do this, we’re investing heavily in AI and machine learning."

Founded in 2010, Wunderkind aims to scale brands' abilities to foster customer relationships through digital channels. How? By analyzing smartphone and desktop web visitors' real-time and historical behaviors to match value to intent, Ingram says.

Wunderkind claims it can determine who visitors are based on the web page that referred them and the content that they're interacting with. For example, the platform can figure out who's most likely to purchase a paid subscription and sign up for a newsletter -- or so Ingram claims.

The company also offers tools to launch "triggered" ad campaigns and create audience segments for those campaigns. It predictively models, seeking to take the guesswork out of determining the highest-intent audiences or any at-risk cohorts.

"We help drive better outcomes using a company's existing technology investments and expertise," Ingram said. "The technical decision maker is worried about not having their own customer relationship and data, not reaching their customers where they are, and being able to execute on smart digital marketing initiatives that their consumers expect. We help across all those fronts by providing access to data, user profiles and one-to-one marketing strategies that manufacture outcomes and truly deliver performance."

From a user perspective, Wunderkind's product sounds a bit...creepy, frankly. Indeed, the case against behavioral marketing is stacking up. But for many companies, the results are well worth the potential controversy. According to a survey by the Network Advertising Initiative conducted with a dozen different ad networks, targeted advertisements based on user behavior converted 6.8% compared with non-targeted ads at 2.8%.

Wunderkind's found success without a doubt, boasting a customer base of more than 1,000 brands and publishers in the luxury, direct-to-consumer and tech spaces -- including Rag & Bone, HelloFresh, Uniqlo, Sonos and See's Candy. (In 2020, Wunderkind -- then known as BounceX -- reported $100 million in annual recurring revenue.) Last year, Wunderkind’s revenue grew 35% year over year, Ingram says, and the company's poised to grow the top line again this year.

"We see the headwinds here as a combination of larger market economic trends, changes that rightfully align with consumer privacy and audience shifts in behavior. We’re also aware of the challenges in scaling first-party data assets and leveraging them in a meaningful way," Ingram said. "But, look, Wunderkind is well-positioned here to help our clients and the industry as a whole. We’re sitting on over ten years of meaningful consumer data and insights that we collected voluntarily."

That being said, 700-employee Wunderkind -- no doubt with an eye toward a more regulated, privacy-conscious ad future -- plans to expand and launch a one-to-one messaging offering for ads to enable "cookieless" retargeting. Also in the works is an improved "discovery" feature for e-commerce businesses that'll serve product recommendations based on customer behaviors and interests.

"We firmly believe we can help our clients increase their customers' lifetime value and ultimately grow better as a business with Wunderkind," Ingram said.