Startup of the Day: Latvian adtech Monetizr

Founded in 2016 by Andris Merkulovs (CEO) and Martins Bratuskinsin (COO) in Riga, Monetizr provides advertising experience platform for the video game industry. The company focuses on helping brands to reach, engage, and convert more than 300 million global (78 million U.S.) Gen Z and Millennial consumers. The startup works with different companies such as Procter & Gamble and Voodoo Games. Monetizr has a team of about 25 people, working in Riga, Helsinki, London, Atlanta, and New York City. Earlier this year, the startup raised $4 million led by Change Ventures.

In the Startup of the Day column, Andris Merkulovs, the CEO & co-founder of Monetizr, shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

Monetizr is an ad experience platform for the video game industry. We create more meaningful brand experiences for gamers, helping brands connect with authentic stories and helping game publishers monetize their games.

The end goal is to create branded experiences that gamers don’t hate. Despite the fact that almost 3 billion people are playing video games, and most of them on mobile devices, this remains a relatively misunderstood channel in the ad industry. We think that Monetizr can deliver experiences for gamers that create positive impressions and lasting trust with brands.

We understand who gamers are and what they like to do, and we enable game publishers to create better experiences for them. The way we do it is by bringing brands into the games, allowing them to sponsor and create amazing experiences, branded missions, and in-game rewards. All this is driven by gamer behavioral data that connects the right ads for the right gamers.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

We were separately working in mobile and advertising categories on the media buying side as well as in development. As an advertiser, I hated creating intrusive ad experiences or buying impressions that didn’t convert. On the mobile app and game development side, we were looking to find the right balance between monetization and creating amazing experiences so that users would come back. So we merged these ideas into the best way to create monetization solutions for mobile apps, and games.

My co-founder, Martins Bratuskins, and I both have backgrounds in gaming and game development. We each experienced firsthand the monetization struggles that game developers and publishers have to navigate. Because of our gaming backgrounds, we’ve always been very focused on the players, on the users of the games and apps.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

The company set out to put the players first and enable advertisers to help players instead of annoying them. And so we landed on the idea of Monetizr in 2020, pivoting away from games to monetization.

What are your target markets and consumers?

Projections suggest that the market for in-game advertising is set to reach $32 billion in 2023 and is expected to soar to $46 billion by 2027.

We work with two main categories of clients. On the one side, there are the brands. In general, we’re looking for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies who are based in the United States and are typically spending $1 billion in advertising. Think companies or brands like Tide, Gillette, secret Coca-Cola or Adidas, Nike, Pringles, M&Ms, and many others.

And on the other side, we have the mobile game publishers. We mainly work in the hyper casual and casual space, meaning publishers who produce free-to-play mobile games and are monetizing purely with ads. Voodoo Games, for example, is a close client of ours.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

When managing in-game campaigns for brands, we have achieved a remarkable 45% reduction in CPM rates compared to any other media channel, and our CPA for email campaigns typically hovers around the $1.25 mark. Furthermore, we’ve witnessed a remarkable 183% increase in impressions and a substantial 119% rise in unique impressions. These results immediately highlight the lucrative business prospects to brands.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

We are a team of about 25 people right now, remote-first and digital. We have team members working in Riga, Helsinki, London, Atlanta, and New York City, but we are serving a truly global industry.

As a young startup, we are always on the lookout for motivated talent. If you have experience in media buying and ad sales and a real passion for gaming, I would definitely encourage you to reach out on LinkedIn or through our homepage postings.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

We recently announced our $4 million round. Change Ventures led the round, Techstars and Ludus Ventures also joined. The purpose behind this last round is to scale globally. We already have a transatlantic presence to tap into the games market, and we have a solid product. The idea is to grow these teams and win more projects with publishers and brands while continuously improving our product.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

We plans to build out our sales teams in North America, with new hires in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The second focus area will be technical and product development, where Monetizr will be making key hires in the development hubs in London, Riga, and Helsinki.

Our journey thus far has been truly remarkable, and we’re excited to announce our plans for extensive travel in 2024 and beyond. Stay connected as even greater adventures lie ahead.