Picnic Raises $1.25M To Support Ad Density Measurement And US Expansion

Picnic’s basket just got a little heavier.

The UK-based ad marketplace announced on Thursday an additional $1.25 million in funding to supplement its $3 million Series A round, which originally closed at the end of 2021.

Picnic raised the new funds with the goal of attaining profitability, said CEO Matthew Goldhill.

“We’re looking at reducing burn rate to zero as quickly as possible,” he said, “and then to be profitable by next year.”

This latest round was led by FirstPartyCapital, a UK-based VC firm that has invested in other ad tech companies, including Good-Loop, Cavai and Lumen, with contribution from US-based VC firm AperiamVentures.

Two major ad tech industry names also kicked in: Gurman Hundal, global executive chairman and co-founder of marketing intelligence company MiQ, and Brian O’Kelley, co-founder and CEO of sustainable ad tech startup Scope3 and former CEO of AppNexus.

Picnic’s priorities

A lot has changed for Picnic in the two years since it closed its Series A, and the company’s priorities have shifted to reflect its quest for profitability.

It’s still aggressively pursuing its US expansion, which has taken longer than anticipated, Goldhill said. To assist, Picnic brought on Joseph Worswick, former MiQ head of sales for the UK and US west coast, as a strategic advisor last year. Worswick has experience running sales teams on both sides of the Atlantic and was instrumental in MiQ’s own US expansion, according to Goldhill.

Currently, it’s just Goldhill and one other salesperson serving the US market. But Picnic plans to hire more regional salespeople, with an emphasis on finding candidates with strong existing sales networks in their region first, rather than prioritizing certain US markets and then hiring teams to serve those markets.

But Picnic is pulling back on its CTV ambitions for now.

“At the time [of Picnic’s Series A announcement], I said [CTV] might be something we do in the next two to three years,” Goldhill said. “I’ll put it in that bucket still, but we have other problems to solve first.”

Those problems include developing its ad density scoring product – which measures the percentage of a page taken up by ads and the percentage taken up by content – and its attention measurement capabilities.

Since 2021, Picnic has hired product leads and data scientists to assist in building these products, growing overall headcount from 20 to 30. The company will fill roughly 10 more roles over the next two quarters split evenly across US and UK sales, engineering and client success, Goldhill said.

On the attention front, Picnic currently works with two attention companies, including Lumen and another partner that Goldhill declined to name because the partnership has not been announced yet.

By measuring ad density and attention, Picnic plans to compile a data set of high-quality web pages, with the intention of pooling inventory from these sites into curated deals for advertisers to buy on its platform.

User-first ads and sustainability

Picnic is also broadening beyond its original primary focus on social display advertising.

The company now promotes itself as a “user-first” ad marketplace, with an emphasis on selling inventory on sites that prioritize the user experience.

“We were very much focused on intuitive and non-intrusive social display formats and user-friendly mobile web pages, specifically fast-loading Google AMP pages, and those are still key tenants of our proposition,” Goldhill said. “So we’ve doubled down on this idea of user-first as a mission, and have continued to build products around that.”

Since user-friendliness often means a lighter ad load, which tends to go hand in hand with environmental sustainability, Picnic entered a partnership with Scope3 last summer. Picnic now measures emissions from all ads served through its marketplace and provides carbon offsets for 100% of those emissions through Scope3’s carbon management partner Carbon Direct.

That commitment to sustainability is what convinced Scope3’s O’Kelley to back the company.

“Sustainability is fundamentally about making each ad experience count, and that’s built into the way Picnic does business,” O’Kelley said. “I look forward to supporting Picnic’s mission of prioritizing the user and delivering better, more sustainable outcomes for advertisers and publishers.”