Nanigans gets $24M for social media ad-tech expansion


Social media is big business — and it should get even bigger as traditional ad spending continues moving to digital channels.

One of the beneficiaries of that shift is Nanigans. The five-year-old company, based in Boston, helps advertisers get the most out of their marketing budget by allowing them to target their digital ads and see how well they perform across hundreds of millions of social-media users.

The company says that more than $500 million in annual ad spending now flows through its software, which is sold to clients like eBay, Rosetta Stone, and Vistaprint. Investors apparently think there’s room for big growth ahead, too: Today, Nanigans says it’s raised $24 million in new investment cash.

The Series B investment round was led by Cheetah Mobile, a China-based company that makes widely used mobile utility apps. Venture capital firm Avalon Ventures, a previous Nanigans backer, also chipped in for this round, along with private investment management firm Wellington Management Co.

Nanigans says the money will help it add new business and grow larger internationally, particularly with the help of Cheetah. Nanigans already has branch offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Singapore, and Sydney, but says it plans to grow even faster in Asia “under a strategic commercial agreement” with Cheetah, although it offered no further details on that deal.

Nanigans is among the newest crop of advertising-tech upstarts that have made their mark from Boston. Past successes include Where, a mobile-ad startup purchased by PayPal for about $135 million in 2011, and Quattro Wireless, which was folded into Apple’s digital ad products after being acquired for a reported $275 million in 2010.

Nanigans first built its business as a close partner of Facebook, helping advertisers target their ads toward the world’s largest social network. Late last year, it expanded into mobile advertising by partnering with MoPub, a digital ad service owned by Twitter. At the time, CEO Ric Calvillo said Nanigans was nearing “break-even” but not yet profitable as it continued to grow quickly.