Performance Marketing Tech Firm iKala completes USD 10MM Funding
iKala, one of the largest Google Cloud partners, has completed its series A+ funding by expanding its previous A round size to USD 10MM with the same investors. In addition to providing cloud and AI technology to corporate customers, iKala is now using these capabilities to address some of the most important problems in advertising. "It's actually a happy surprise for me that our cloud and AI technology can be easily generalized to help advertisers do performance marketing and allocate their ad budgets very wisely. This is what we call 'Cloud for Marketing (C4M),'" said iKala's CEO Sega Cheng.
"KOL Radar", an influencer search engine launched by iKala last June, comes with the ambitious goal to "organize influencer information and make it accessible and useful for advertisers." iKala is using AI extensively to measure the performance of influencer marketing and also make precise influencer recommendation for advertisers. KOL Radar is already used by more than 4,000 advertisers in the world, including some Fortune 500 companies. According to Mediakix, an advertising firm, the market size of influencer marketing will grow from USD 1.6B in 2018 to USD 10Bin 2020.
Another product, "Shoplus", is iKala's answer to social commerce in ASEAN market. It is estimated there are 2 million social sellers in Thailand and 51% of online shoppers purchase goods through social media. Shoplus is a free but full-fledged app for merchants doing e-commerce on social networks, with complete order management, customer service, payment, logistics, and ad features. "It's also about measuring the performance of social sellers, helping them do better at selling and later re-marketing," said Sega Cheng. Launched last September, Shoplus has garnered more than 70,000 merchants in Thailand and Vietnam, expecting an even stronger traction going forward as the market size of e-commerce ads will double every year, according to DMA.
"There is a clear paradigm shift in advertisement, people are turning to performance-based marketing, instead of pursuing max impressions," said Sega Cheng, "and solving these important measurement problems really takes the best machine learning and AI talents. So if you want to tackle the challenges and build AI applications at global scale, you are welcome to join us." With operations in Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong, iKala will expand its team aggressively from 100 to 150 people in 2019.
"We are making lots of exciting progress in using machine learning at scale,"concluded Sega Cheng, "and I am glad that what we do is real human-centered AI, making people valuable again." Setting off from its solid ground on the cloud, iKala is now committed to becoming a leader in performance marketing technology.