NC-based Kevel Talks A Year Of Growth In The Retail Media Space After Landing $10M Series B

Klarna is Europe’s most highly-valued FinTech. When it looked to bring sponsored ads onto its app, it turned to a Research Triangle startup for help. 

Kevel, a Durham-based AdTech platform, helped Klarna insert user-targeted native ads on its mobile app. Using Kevel’s API infrastructure platform, Klarna created ads that looked like organic content, and in turn, drove a new high-margin revenue stream.

Along with Klarna, Kevel has added some impressive customers over the last year, including Ticketmaster, WeTransfer, and Yelp. The growth comes as brands look to keep up with the growing “retail media” space. 

It is also rounding out 2021 with a $10 million Series B round. The round was led by Atlanta-based Fulcrum Equity Partners, with additional participation from Commerce Ventures, JARS Labs, and AperiamVentures

For founder and CEO James Avery, the investment will help Kevel continue to give brands the ability to “build custom ad platforms like Facebook and Amazon.” 


The future of retail media

The e-commerce boom has increased opportunities to market directly to consumers at or near the point of purchase.

“The concept of “what is retail media” is expanding,” Avery told Hypepotamus. “At the very beginning, it was just standard banner ads, then it morphed into sponsored product listings, which is where most of it is today. But we’re also seeing retailers expand into innovative, creative ad units.” 

That includes native carousel ads, drop-down ads, email ads, and has even expanded into in-store signage and “cooler screens.” 

“Physical retailers drive incremental revenue through co-op budgets and shopper marketing: think, Coke paying for its own special stand at the end of the soda aisle. With fewer in-store shoppers in the past two years, the value of this “advertising” lessens for the manufacturers and CPG brands, leading to the retailers driving less revenue through these channels. Retail media, on the other hand, is the digital equivalent of shopper marketing. So, it’s not much of a leap for retailers to jump on retail media ad monetization, as it’s a natural, digital extension of what they’ve done in physical locations.”

The e-commerce boom also has changed the very nature of AdTech tools, said Avery, creating even more opportunity for Kevel to grow.


Between The Rounds

Kevel closed its Series B round almost exactly one year after its $11 million Series A, also led by Fulcrum. 

During that time the team expanded from 45 to 75, 10 of whom are in the UK.

Most growth has been found on sales and engineering teams, while also hiring a VP of People, CRO, VP of Enterprise Sales, VP of Product, and VP of Customer Success, said Avery.