Ad Tech Boom Continues With $1M Funding of Precision Health

3/2/12Follow @arleneweintraub

Ever since Xconomy New York launched almost a year ago, we’ve been tracking the incredible rise of advertising technology startups in the city. Now we can add another up-and-comer to the list: New York-based Precision Health Media, which announced Wednesday that it has raised $1 million in a Series B, bringing its total venture haul to $2.6 million.

Precision Health is developing a technology platform for health brands called ConditionMatch. The platform uses semantic analysis to identify Web pages that contain content about commonly diagnosed health conditions, such as diabetes, depression, and allergies. It then places ads for products related to those conditions on appropriate pages, continuously optimizing ad placement based on changing content. “ConditionMatch can rank the most relevant pages based on a brand’s goal,” says Bill Jennings, CEO of Precision Health. “We have 220 sites we can optimize, and we can move the ads around with the clients’ approval.” Most of the company’s clients are ad agencies that work with pharmaceutical companies, Jennings says.

Precision Health Media was founded in 2007 as Good Health Media, a vertical ad-sales network. But Jennings says the company quickly sensed a larger need among health-related advertisers to find specific audiences on the Web. “We were asked to find patients with COPD or multiple sclerosis,” he says. “The advertisers wanted a very narrow focus.” So the company changed its name and began developing ConditionMatch. The technology can place ads on consumer and professional websites, health apps, and even electronic medical record platforms.

Like many startups in ad technology, Precision Health is steering clear of so-called “behavioral targeting,” the controversial practice of targeting ads to specific consumers by using cookies to track their browsing behavior. Semantic platforms allow advertisers to place ads based on content rather than behavior—an important asset to pharmaceutical companies that are concerned about invading patients’ privacy, Jennings says. “In pharma, there’s a resistance to behavioral targeting,” he says. “They just want to find relevant health content.”

The shift from behavioral to semantic technology has proven popular among venture capitalists who are interested in supporting the ad-tech boom. Last summer, New York-based Peer 39, which also markets a semantic ad-tech platform, raised $5.2 million in a Series D funding round from the likes of Canaan Partners. Participants in Precision Health’s latest round included Cava Capital and the Conyers Group, with participation from previous investors Metamorphic Ventures and several angels.

Precision Health is the latest in a string of New York ad-tech financings. In February, Spongecell raised $10 million to support its technology for transforming static banner ads into interactive tools. Other companies in the Big Apple that have recently pulled in VC support include Cognitive Match, Adaptly, and Tapad.

Jennings says Precision Health will use its latest funding to fine tune ConditionMatch and build a salesforce. The company also hired a Johnson & Johnson veteran, Matthew Fink, to head up its marketing efforts. “He will help us boost our communication with advertisers and launch new channels, like mobile,” Jennings says.

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