As online advertising continues to grow exponentially—digital advertisers will outspend TV advertisers by an estimated $40 billion this year—Chicago startup Popular Pays is making it easier for brands to find and work with social media influencers. And it just raised a new round of funding to help more agencies license its platform.
Popular Pays announced Tuesday that it has raised a $5.5 million Series B led by Michigan-based Beringea. Silicon Valley firm GoAhead VC and Chicago’s Hyde Park Angels also participated in the round. Popular Pays, a graduate of Y Combinator in 2015, has now raised $11.5 million to date.
Founded in 2013, Popular Pays helps brands connect with social media influencers on digital ad campaigns, allowing companies to easily execute campaigns with popular social media stars on Pinterest, Instagram and other sites, while also helping content creators earn money.
Popular Pays has grown quickly, nearly doubling its headcount in the last year to 42 employees. CEO and founder Corbett Drummey said the startup has found success in licensing its platform to marketing agencies, and the new funding will go toward getting in front of more ad shops and growing the company’s sales and product development teams.
“A lot of value that we’re offing is making that handshake between the creator and marketer,” Drummey said. “We built out a lot of tooling that makes it easier to collaborate.”
Popular Pays’ platform allows brands and agencies to plan a social media campaign, select the content creator they want to work with, approve and edit content, chat with social influencers in the app, and track the success of the post once it goes live.
Agencies like Havas Chicago and iCrossing Chicago have used the platform to help its brands find social media creators. Popular Pays has also executed campaigns for brands, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Adidas, Samsung and Dyson.
As Popular Pays gains traction with both marketers and influencers, it’s also being recognized by the social media platforms themselves. This year it was officially added as a Pinterest Marketing Partner and recently was named a Facebook Marketing Partner. Drummey was also named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Marketing & Advertising.