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Two days after Google flub, Unruly raises $25 million

The start-up, which runs viral-video marketing campaigns, hopes to grow faster internationally. Awkwardly, the announcement follows a public flap over Unruly's pay-for-post promo of Google's Chrome.

Unruly Media Logo

Unruly Media, a video-promotion start-up that just botched a Google Chrome ad campaign, has raised $25 million in first-round funding.

Among investors in the London-based company are Amadeus Capital Partners, Van den Ende & Deitmers, and the British Growth Fund. The money will be used "to accelerate international growth and cement Unruly's position as the global leader in this fast-growing area," the company said today.

Unruly helps its clients promote video advertisements that, if all goes according to plan, spread virally. Among those it's been involved in are Evian's roller babies and Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" videos.

Viral videos are a marketing dream. Done well, people voluntarily spread the video to their contacts, a sharing mechanism that's got much more potential for getting attention than a conventional ad. Unruly, offering a heat map that shows where Web users' eyes spend the most time, declares: "No one looks at ads!"

Unruly shows this heat map to make its case that a viral video shared by contacts on a social network will fare better than one placed as an advertisement.
Unruly shows this heat map to make its case that a viral video shared by contacts on a social network will fare better than one placed as an advertisement. Unruly Media

The company also tracks how videos fare. In the Evian case, the company measured the success of the video broadly:

In order to track the global spread of the campaign, Unruly fingerprinted the video file--taking a sample of its audiovisual DNA--and deployed web-tracking software to crawl 30 billion web pages looking for matches. This enabled us to aggregate views, comments, and tweets for over 2,000 uploads of the video and to report back in real-time on the campaign's true reach and social media impact.

Not everything always goes so well, though. Google hired Unruly to promote a marketing video for its Chrome browser, and Unruly did so, in part, by paying bloggers to write about the browser.

Google, though, was displeased. In a statement, Google said, "We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users. We're now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again."

And because one of the paid blog blogs included a link to the Chrome download page in violation of Google's search guidelines, Google punished itself by demoting the Chrome download page in search results. The punishment will last for at least 60 days, said Matt Cutts, leader of Google's effort to keep spam out of Google search results. Indeed, a search for "Google Chrome" no longer includes Google's Chrome download page with high placement by itself; it does appear as a sublink to the Chrome download help page.