Pixability banks $18.2 million to help big brands connect with online video viewers

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Don’t fear the pivot, says Pixability chief executive Bettina Hein.

When she started the company in 2008, in the thick of the recession, the mission was to help small businesses make marketing videos cheaply. Pixability would even mail out a Flip video camera — remember those? — that business owners could shoot with. Pixability would edit the footage, adding logos, titles, and a soundtrack.

Now, the company is working with big brands like Puma, Walgreens, Zipcar, and L’Oreal, to help them target the right viewers with YouTube advertising, and analyze the impact of their campaigns. And Pixability has just raised a major new round of funding — $18.2 million — to fuel its growth. The Boston-based startup has now raised a total of $28.2 million.

Pixability employees in front of the company's North End headquarters. Founder and CEO Bettina Hein is in the center of the second row, wearing the black fur hat.

Pixability employees in front of the company’s North End headquarters. Founder and CEO Bettina Hein is in the center of the second row, wearing the black fur hat.

“There’s a big shift in [advertising] budgets going from television to online media,” says Hein. “About $230 billion is spent on TV advertising every year, and the online video spend is somewhere between $10 billion and $15 billion. So there’s a big discrepancy between what young people do on YouTube and Hulu and Netflix, and where the spending is.” One customer, Puma, used Pixability’s software to market new Arsenal Football Club soccer apparel to a young, male audience that religiously watched soccer clips on YouTube, for instance.

As for the company’s shift in focus from small businesses that couldn’t produce their own marketing videos to major brands, Hein says, “We knew that online video was a big market, and as a founder, you have to pick a big market. If you do right and stick with it, you’ll find the opportunity. It takes every company a while to find that stride.”

Pixability has about 60 employees in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and London, and Hein says that the company is currently hunting for a bigger office in Boston.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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