Websites aren’t dead.
Even as more web distribution moves to social platforms, San Francisco-based Brandcast is betting big on websites. The firm has raised $18 million in Series A funding from a handful of intriguing investors: Marc Benioff, Shasta Ventures, and Affinity Group (a firm backed by TPG Group that focuses on marketing and communication investments).
Brandcast provides cloud software that helps brands create and tweak their websites on the fly and then pulls in analytics, including its own and that of third-party services, like Google Analytics, that track web traffic. The idea is to allow marketers to handle web design within their own teams without necessarily needing IT or tech resources.
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Brandcast’s clients include health and wellness retailer Shaklee, creative shop The Craftsman Agency, and natural soda brand Virgil’s.
“The relationship between brands and customers is being redefined every day by trends in the digital world,” said Richard Yanowitch, CEO and chairman of Brandcast. “We’ve found that it’s critical for digital experiences to be brought under the direct control of CMOs, marketing, and digital teams in order for them to unleash the full creative potential of those teams.”
According to Yanowitch, enterprise companies are increasingly taking static assets — like PDFs and PowerPoint presentations — and figuring out how to turn them into pieces of digital content. Brands are also creating personalized websites in minutes that feature content specific to individual customers.
The new funding will go to more customer-focused functions, like more salespeople and staff focused on customer success, Yanowitch said.
Benioff and Shasta Ventures have both previously invested in Brandcast.
Social media killed websites. Now they’re back.
A few years ago, brands seemed to ditch websites and look to social media for distribution and tried to sell things on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
“For a while up until very recently, social media appeared to be the panacea for these brands, but they are starting to find that they’re too limited as a brand by the confines of a Facebook Page and the format that you have for Facebook or Twitter,” Yanowitch said. “And they have to pay a toll for every interaction with a consumer.”
On top of that, Facebook and Twitter are struggling with hacking, bots, and trustworthiness.
“There’s this new phase where CMOs and digital innovation teams are realizing that they have to manage a much bigger portfolio of URLs and digital experiences — they have to be in many places at once,” he said. “Rather than go back to their website, they’re creating a whole new generation of websites with marketing dollars.”
Brands are reinvesting advertising money into technology
Increasingly, brands like Nike are shifting money from advertising into services that provide so-called “digital transformations” like user experience, data, and technology. Those aren’t things that traditional ad agencies usually specialize in, and a crop of consultancies promise to help brands manage all of it in addition to handling their advertising.
Other brands are cutting out some of their partners and moving technology and marketing in-house. Yanowitch said Brandcast works with both agencies and in-house marketers.
“One of the reasons this is taking off is [because] it is viewed as one of the fastest ways to make progress in digital transformation for these important brands,” he said. “It allows them to create this ecosystem of collaboration with in-house teams, external teams, with all the technology being taken care of up in the cloud.”