Martin Sorrell-backed S4S Ventures, Bertelsmann invest $10M in data asset management outfit as it blends new content, analytics-based marketing for clients

In the 20 years since the first digital asset management tools and software were created, it’s safe to say the amount of content in the world of media has exploded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.

Not only have media companies and publishers been making content, but marketers have gotten into the game as well, using content up and down the entire purchase funnel to build brands and move products. 

That explosion in content has certainly created the need not only for more sophisticated tools to manage it, but better ways to attach data and analytics to the content in order to better optimize it at the right time for the right opportunity. One company that’s been in the data asset management (DAM) game for most of those last two decades thinks it can satisfy those needs.

Tenovos (pronounced as “10 of us”) just received a $10 million Series B funding investment from S4S Ventures (which is backed in part by Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital) and Bertelsmann’s investment arm BDMI. It’s a bid to bridge the gap between making software as a service-based DAM software easier to use for creatives, but with enough depth and substantive data-crunching elements to still be of use to the analytics side of the business. 

D. Scott Bowen, co-founder and CEO of Tenovos, explained the thinking he and his partner Sal Hakimi have put into positioning the company. Up to now, DAM technology “is just a bit tired and bit old and just not able to keep up with the the needs of modern marketers today,” he said. “We want to take the concept of a DAM beyond just managing and moving content assets to include the value propositions of measuring and optimizing the content. Simply described, we’re building the missing alter ego to the CDP in the martech landscape.”

The need, he said, is driven by the fact that everyone, not just publishers anymore, makes content — and needs the data and analytical smarts to be attached more effectively to that content use. “A platform akin to what we’re envisioning has got a rightful place as a pure system of record that can be very and should be very strategic for big companies, especially B2C companies,” Bowen said.

Sanja Partalo, who heads S4S Ventures, pointed out that the 4-year-old Tenovos already has a strong roster of major marketers and content makers as clients, including Amazon, Glossier, Marvel, Mattel and Twitch. 

“The proof is in the pudding that one of their biggest clients is Marvel Studios,” said Partalo. “That company produces content for a living, right? They’re not just marketers — they’re creatives through and through. And they’ve chosen Tenovos.”

Even though she’s closely aligned with S4 Capital’s agency network Media.Monks — whose executives kicked the proverbial tires on the Tenovos DAM product before S4S invested — Partalo noted that the agency world in general stands to gain a leg up on consultancies, given agencies sit at the nexus of helping clients understand and use content (and the data needed to leverage content more effectively) in different ways. 

“This newer category of DAM products presents an opportunity for all agencies, that are a lot closer to this problem [DAMs try to solve] than consultancies are,” she said. “So if they want to lean in and build new business lines around the idea of implementing modern DAM, that’s a very meaningful opportunity.”

Evelyn Mitchell, digital advertising and media analyst at Insider Intelligence, said the quantity of content and number of partners determines their need for a DAM like Tenovos. “If an advertiser is only working with a handful of publishers, then manually managing content optimization for each environment might be feasible for an internal team and/or its agency partners,” she said. “But the longer the list of publishers, the harder it gets, especially when programmatic is involved. Solutions like this can help advertisers diversify their channel mixes, which has been a popular tactic post-ATT.”

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