Snapchat-focused marketing company Naritiv raises $3 million

Marketing company Naritiv announced Thursday a $3-million investment from venture capitalists to grow a team that helps advertisers turn popular Snapchat users into temporary salespeople.

Years ago, media companies including Fullscreen and Maker Studios began doing the same, linking advertisers to prominent YouTube video creators who would get paid to promote their brands. But Naritiv was one of the first to help companies reach Snapchat’s now more than 100 million users.

The popularity of the Venice company's chat-and-video app has made it the latest hot playground for marketers. Because Snapchat’s own ad options are in flux as it tests users’ tolerance for ads, Coca-Cola, Marriott and other companies are giving downtown Los Angeles-based Naritiv a try.

Snapchat has teased additional tools for advertisers that would help them take advantage of the service, but companies like Naritiv have been allowed to fill voids in the meantime. Marketing companies continue to play similar roles on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Naritiv works with 300 Snapchat users, whose posts collectively receive 16 billion views a month. Users including Shaun McBride, Mike Platco and Ashley Benson have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of followers on Snapchat. Users have said they sometimes earn more than $10,000 per campaign.

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FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this article misstated the 16 billion views users receive each month as 16 million.

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During nearly 100 ad campaigns run through Naritiv last year, users usually explained in their Snapchat videos that they were about to go to an event or try out a product and that someone had paid them to do so. They would also tell their fans to follow the Snapchat account of the advertiser for further updates about the experience.

Naritiv tracks the posts, though it won’t say whether people or automated software does it. Data are analyzed to figure out how to maintain viewership through what can add up to several minutes' worth of photos and videos.

Naritiv Chief Executive Dan Altmann said the sponsored snaps should be authentic and timed well.

“It’s not just dropping it on the consumer,” he said.

Altman expects advertisers will get more aggressive on Snapchat this year, which is why he’s growing his workforce. Another positive sign: He said the number of Snapchat users who carry influence among consumers has soared in the last nine months.

And even if Snapchat gets its ad options figured out, “creators are an amazing catalyst” to get users to pay attention to the ad, Altman said. “One complements the other.”

Investors include Third Wave Digital, led by YouTube marketing pioneer Allen DeBevoise; Walt Disney Co., whose start-up mentorship program helped Naritiv in 2014; and Luminari Capital. Naritiv previously raised $1.2 million.

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