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Data visualization startup Visual.ly grabs another $2M to take on ad agencies (exclusive)

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Big data may be cool, but it’s not pretty. Visual.ly, a startup focused on data visualizations and infographics, has raised a new $2 million round of funding, the company has confirmed to VentureBeat today.

Visual.ly’s platform is like a “basecamp” for design projects that want to utilize big data from multiple sources. It’s clients (brands, businesses, and news organizations) subscribe for access to the platform, which can match them with Visual.ly’s community of over 55,000 designers. Once matched,the designer and the client work together using the platform, with Visual.ly’s team acting as a project manager. Essentially, it answer the question of what do to for companies after they’ve hired a designer and don’t quite know what to do next.

“Right now existing ad agencies are our biggest competitors,” Visual.ly CEO Stew Langille told me in a phone interview. He explained that, in addition to building useful, interactive graphics for clients, Visual.ly is becoming more attractive because it allows designers to earn more money on a project and advertisers to spend less.

Depending on the level of project management, Visual.ly takes anywhere from 10 to 30 percent cut of each project’s total cost. The goal, Langille said, is to improve the collaboration platform for designers and clients to work on their own. And while he didn’t disclose financial figures, Langille did say that Visual.ly’s revenue is increasing 300 percent each quarter, and the number of projects are increasing 200 percent per quarter.

Visually-GA toolThe new round came from previous investors, such as SoftTech VC, 500 Startups, and Giza Venture Capital, as well as strategic investors that include Yammer chief product officer James Patterson and several top executives from the advertising industry that will help Visual.ly build out its presence in New York City.

The additional capital will primarily be used to advance the startup’s data visualization /collaboration technology and hire more talent over the next year. Langille said Visual.ly has held off on raising a larger round, but does plan on raising additional funding in the future.

Langille also said he’d like to use the funding to produce more free data visualization tools that showcase the Visual.ly platform’s potential. For example, the startup’s recently released tool that interfaces with Google Analytics to produce a weekly traffic report, which you can send via email automatically. Also, the startup’s Twitter user battle infographic tool.

Founded in 2011, the San Francisco, Calif.-based startup has raised a total of $4.4 million in funding to date. Visual.ly currently has 25 employees, with plans to hire another 10 to 15 people before the end of 2013.


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Half of What Online Advertisers Know About You Is Wrong

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Considering that they’ve never explicitly asked us about our preferences, it’s a minor miracle of big data that web advertising companies know anything about us at all. But at least half of the things they think they know about you—from your political preferences to your affinity for ladies’ fashion—could be wrong, and sometimes hilariously so.

Or at least, that’s what data from a survey put out by a firm called Enliken would suggest. Because Enliken’s business is getting people to give up more-accurate data about themselves in exchange for access to content. Because the survey wasn’t very big—covering just 116 people and about 9,000 data points—I took the survey myself in order to see whether ad targeting firms’ notions about my preferences were as inaccurate as Enliken suggested.

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