Both deal and funding activity in the content marketing space hit a five-year quarterly high in Q1'14.

As more CMOs shift their attention – and dollars – to using content and publishing to engage consumers, a number of venture-backed companies have cropped up to help create, optimize, promote and measure content marketing efforts.

While the use of content as a marketing engine isn’t at all a new phenomenon, the growth of funding to content marketing software and tools has been driven in part by the rise of social media as a distribution platform to potentially massive audiences. As Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures wrote last year,

There is a growing market out there for content marketing…in which brands, marketers, retailers and other businesses create blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and the like and then spend money filling those pages with content. I like to think of this as moving the message from a banner to your brand and changing the engagement from a view to a conversation.

Over the past four quarters, content marketing startups have raised $292M across 44 deals. On a year-over-year basis, deal activity has risen 47% while funding levels have increased a notable 125% driven by a handful of sizable mid-stage deals in Q1’14 including to Sequoia Capital-backed Percolate, InterWest Partners-backed NewsCred and Lightbank and Sigma Prime-backed Contently. As the chart below highlights, both deal and funding activity in the space hit a five-year quarterly high in the first three months of 2014.

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Content Marketing Financing Activity By Stage

As companies in the space have gained more traction and as content marketing as an industry has gained more steam, VCs mid-stage funding activity (Series B/Series C) has heated up. These mid-stage deals took over 30% of all deals in the market over the past eight quarters. But with the content marketing industry still in its early days, early-stage companies have garnered the lion’s share of deals. Over the past two years, 61% of all content marketing deals have gone to the seed or Series A stages. A cross of content marketing companies that have raised early-stage funding since the start of 2013 are highlighted below.

  • Atomic Reach – Scoring engine analyzing content based on quality and relevance for targeted audiences backed by GenWealth Venture Partners.
  • DivvyHQ – Cloud content planning and production workflow tool for content marketers backed by Dundee Venture Capital.
  • OneSpot – Platform packaging content marketing into targeted ad units for programmatic placement. Investors include Mohr Davidow Ventures, Mack Capital, RSL Ventures and 500 Startups.
  • Quill - Platform and network of specialist content creators to help businesses create content on any topic. Investors include Ariadne Capital and Smedvig Capital.
  • Triblio – Software platform helping marketers produce and measure content that resonates with targeted personas. Investors include Longworth Venture partners and Kepha Partners.
  • Written – Marketplace allowing bloggers and brands to exchange in content licensing, syndication and sponsorship agreements. Backed by Floodgate Fund and LiveOak Venture Partners.

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Content Marketing Financing Activity By Geography

Within major U.S. tech hubs, the NY Metro area has taken the largest share of deals over the last two years taking over 1/4 of all content marketing deals, followed by Silicon Valley which took 19% of deals. NY companies in the space include Ceros, Zemanta, Percolate, Contently and NewsCred. The latter three of which combined to raise an aggregate $58M in Q1 2014.

contentmarketing3All of the underlying financing data on the content marketing tech market is on the CB Insights Venture Capital Database. All the visualizations you see here were created directly on CB Insights using Industry Analytics.