Advertising tech startup Polar secures funding from Fort Point Capital, rebrands to Nova

Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar and Nova, smiling
Nova president: Polar pioneered the social display space.

Toronto-based advertising tech startup Polar has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from American private equity firm Fort Point Capital. At the same time, the company also changed its name to Nova.

Nova is the name of the programmatic ad product for brands and agencies that Polar spun out into a new business last year.

“Our Social Display tools were a big ‘a-ha’ moment for many advertisers who already understood the power of social.”
– Matt Crenshaw, Nova president

Co-founded in 2007 by CEO Kunal Gupta, Polar provides two types of advertisement products: Nova, as well as publisher ad products. When Nova was spun out, Polar said that it decided to launch the product because it identified a market opportunity to bring better creative tools to programmatic advertising, and wanted to refine the company’s product and client focus.

Now as Nova, the company has made some executive changes. Nova promoted chief commercial officer Matt Crenshaw to the role of president; and Kendall Schultz, who was general manager of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), has been appointed as general manager of publishers.

Crenshaw told BetaKit that Polar wanted to adopt Nova as the company name because it wanted to show that it’s evolving beyond social display into a more robust creative automation platform.

Social display advertising is the re-creation of social media posts designed to deliver traditional banner placements. Crenshaw said that Polar pioneered the social display space, creating the first solution to repurpose social creatives across the broader internet.

“Our strategy now is to continue innovating with social display, and to pioneer new formats that go beyond social display,” Crenshaw noted. “The launch of our CTV [connected TV] and VAST [Video Ad Serving Template]-enabled video formats shows us moving in this direction, focusing on faster automation and better advertising performance with formats that go beyond what advertisers can run on social media.”’

RELATED: Following significant growth, Polar spins out ad product into standalone business

With the launch of CTV and other video formats, Nova can now convert any video on social media into a VAST-enabled ad to run online or on CTV. According to the company, this move is part of a larger strategy to expand the company’s creative automation platform.

With social display formats, Nova claims that it has seen advertisers gain higher engagement than with standard display ads, as well as increased dwell time and viewability with each ad.

Across the major social media platforms, Crenshaw said there are 74 unique ad formats. “Before Nova, advertisers didn’t have a way to easily convert each one of these formats into a standard IAB format,” he said. “Our Social Display tools were a big ‘a-ha’ moment for many advertisers who already understood the power of social.”

Though social display takes up a huge portion of Nova’s focus for the long-term, the startup has explored different businesses in the past.

Previously called Polar Mobile, before it changed its name to just Polar, the company was a media-focused app development firm. It then pivoted to organized advertising in 2013 with the launch of MediaVoice, a platform that “enables publishers to easily present, create, serve, and report native advertising experiences across their desktop, tablet, and smartphone websites.”

As of last year, Polar had one institutional investor, Georgian, and a collective of angel investors; with total funding of $14 million.

Photo courtesy of Nova.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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