Antler Investor Memo Series: Adtech startup MADU monetizes visual content in a post-cookies publication

    Early-stage investment firm Antler Australia recently backed a new cohort of startups as part of its ongoing program to build great local tech companies.

    Startup Daily shares the details of each venture in the “Antler Investor Memos” series, which is designed to give you a quick, incisive insight into the startups and people involved, with many seeking follow-up capital beyond the initial pre-seed investment from Antler.

    Company Name: MADU

    Date of incorporation: 2022

    Stage of business: Pre-seeding

    founders: Hendricus (Rick) Willem and Ben Huang

    Current investors: antlers

    Currently increase: No

    Description of the company

    Coined the “death of third-party cookies”, digital advertisers and publishers will no longer be able to trust

    cookies to track online user data by the end of next year. In response to growing consumer privacy concerns, global tech giants, including Google, Apple, and Mozilla Firefox, are phasing out third-party cookies on their platforms.

    Such as ad spend in the global digital advertising market is expected to exceed $700 billion this yearthe industry is preparing for the aftermath.

    Powered by AI, adtech startup MADU helps publishers monetize their visual content in a cookie-free world by turning every photo on their website into a monetization opportunity.

    The platform automatically scans publisher images through the product recognition engine, identifies relevant products and creates affiliate links.

    By doing so, it then displays intuitive digital ads for users to instantly “shop the look,” while an affiliate commission is paid by retailers and shared between the publisher and MADU.

    As publishers focus on revenue diversification in response to declining advertising budgets, increased competition and the evolving consumer privacy regulatory landscape, MADU enables publishers to turn their existing content into additional revenue streams without collecting personal consumer data.

    With over 17 years of experience in the publishing industry, co-founders Hendricus Willem and Ben Huang are well acquainted with the revenue challenges faced by publishers, licensing hurdles faced by photo agencies, and shrinking budgets for advertisers.

    MADU is founded on the belief that a publisher’s visual content has an infinite amount of value, yet often remains untapped until now.

    Antler investment thesis

    “MADU simultaneously solves two challenges: enabling publishers to monetize their visual content while complying with consumer privacy regulations, while enrich consumers’ online browsing experience with the ability to buy products directly at the point of inspiration,” said Jake Booker, Associate Partner at Antlers Australia.

    “The ever-evolving digital publishing industry must continually adapt to changing market conditions, consumer demands, advertiser budgets and regulations to remain profitable. Our belief in MADU stems from Hendrikus and Ben are unwavering focus on unlocking new revenue streams with untapped opportunities from publishers’ own content.”

    Traction/milestones, so far

    In less than 4 months after receiving the Pre-Seed investment from Antler, MADU has developed and brought to market its automated advertising technology platform.

    Several publisher customers have signed up to deploy the system and there is a pipeline of leading publisher customers interested in the solution.

    In addition to product development and optimization, MADU has established numerous partnerships with affiliate networks, including Skimlinks, Awin and CommissionFactory, which provide access to stocks from more than 6,500 fashion retailers worldwide.

    Latest financing

    Antler preseed

    Use of Funds

    With the initial investment from Antler, MADU has accelerated the development of its automated solution and Product Recognition Engine.

    While continuing to focus on product optimization, MADU is preparing several integration features for affiliate and publisher partners to simplify the implementation of its product, provide tailored offers and accelerate adoption.

    The founders say:

    “With the tightened privacy regulations and the disappearance of third-party cookies, a new era of B2C online advertising is currently dawning. Our solution is one of the frontrunners in this new market because we can help consumers with something they’ve always wanted: shopping directly at the point of inspiration,” said Hendricus “Rick” Willem, co-founder of MADU.

    “While other advertising solutions rely heavily on third-party cookies and data, MADU sets a new standard for online advertising in the cookieless era.

    “We are striving to transform the entire online visual landscape into a shoppable landscape, enabling consumers to instantly purchase any product they see and love, an opportunity that was once a distant dream but has now become a reality.

    “Antler’s coaching throughout our journey so far has been invaluable. Antler helped us find the pain points within our initial solution when we first joined their cohort. They coached us during our process and ensured that we made the right decisions independently.

    “Antler points you in the right direction, but doesn’t hold your hand, which is great as a startup and a valuable way to work with your VC investor.”

    What’s next?

    Antler, an early-stage global VC, is revealing all of its latest investments in aspiring Australian founders and startups. With 100 investments in start-up companies, MADU is one of the most recent portfolio companies.


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