India’s Amagi takes $35m to get into new Ad markets, new platforms

We first came across India’s Amagi at IBC in 2012, billing itself as the largest company reselling advertising. Today it has landed a $35 million investment from a group led by private equity group KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts).

Emerald Media, a Pan-Asian company backed by KKR said it had acquired a significant minority stake in Amagi Media Labs. Premji Invest, the investment arm of Azim Premji and an existing shareholder, also participated in the round as did other investors.

What Amagi does is not magic. In India, it began by buying ad spots on national TV channels, and then reselling them regionally for far more money, given that Amagi gets paid many times over for each national ad slot by selling them a form of addressable advertising.

When we first met it, its management was talking about the opportunities it saw in Europe and the US. It has patents for precisely how it does what it does – inserting regional content into a TV channel, either a single advert break or a 3 hour change of programming brought about through rights issues, by using what it calls a reliable ‘bar code.’ Other advertising insertion marks were not good enough for this, it argues.

In effect this is really an invisible and inaudible water mark in the content, and not only can it be used to run a different advert, but it can also be used by broadcasters to run a separate program – for instance a satellite delivered TV channel may want to cut in 3 hours of coverage in one country, but 1 hour in the rest of the continent. Amagi founder and CTO, Baskar Subramanian told us at the time ‘It costs $750,000 (a year) to deliver a channel to one continent, if you only want to change 3 hours of content, you wouldn’t want to pay that all over again and pay for sending a second stream.’

Which is why Amagi came up with a Cloudporting service for delivering this content over the internet, getting it there ahead of time, and terminating it in a storage box, which also looks out for the unique watermark and splices it out of storage, into the stream, just before the channel goes to playout locally.

Today Amagi continues to be headquartered in Bengaluru with offices in New York City, London, and Hong Kong, and its offering it largely unchanged – a cloud-based managed broadcast service with targeted advertising, today aimed as much as OTT content as it was aimed at cable and satellite in the past. The difference is that Amagi now has deployments in 30 countries and is India’s largest TV Ad network supporting more than 3,000 brands.

The new money will be used to expand to more platforms and get into new international markets.  Prior to this round, Amagi has raised $25 million from Premji Invest, Mayfield India and Nadathur Holdings.