Foresight Group has invested several million pounds of growth capital from Foresight VCT (FVCT) into advertising software platform PowerLinks.

The investment completes a larger Series A round of funding for the comapny totalling £5.48m, with additional participation from leading angel investors and PowerLinks management.

The Salford-Quays based company automates the buying and selling of personally relevant and user-friendly ‘native’ advertising.

It is emerging as a leader in a new generation of advertising platforms, connecting advertisers and publishers in a data-rich marketplace, which processes over six billion auctions each day.

Ads are bought and sold in real-time, based on precisely defined customer interest profiles, which are augmented by PowerLinks’ unique ‘personal relevance’ data.

Unlike traditional digital ads, PowerLinks ads are visually styled in real-time to align with the surrounding webpage or mobile app, thereby delivering a non-intrusive, ‘native’ user experience.

The investment follows a year of success and expansion, which has seen PowerLinks marketplace surpass 4,000 advertising campaigns from 140 connected advertisers, driving revenue growth of over 100 per cent year-on-year.

PowerLinks has also strengthened the relationship with its advertising partner Microsoft, graduating Cohort 7 of the Microsoft Accelerator program for Series A start-ups.

The capital injection is intended to accelerate PowerLinks’ expansion in the US, with planned additions across the sales, client services and technology teams.

The company will also partner with global customers to roll out support in dozens of new markets, having recently expanded in Amsterdam and Berlin.

PowerLinks has integrated 56 analytics, audience data and media vendors, and will continue to integrate partners which bolster the transparency and automation available to customers.

The company is adding leading AI and cognitive services to its context-focused ‘personal relevance platform’, which provides granular targeting and brand safety, whilst complying with the incoming European GDPR data laws.

As part of Foresight’s investment, PowerLinks has also bolstered its management team with the appointment of Alex Rahaman as chairman and Mickey Christodoulides as finance director.

Rahaman is an experienced AdTech entrepreneur who most recently grew StrikeAd, the VC backed mobile programmatic platform he founded, until its sale to Sizmek Inc.

Rahaman brings growth, exit and international sector experience and contacts to the team, and has previously held CEO, COO and CFO roles.

Christodoulides has 17 years’ experience of building best practice finance departments, eight of which have been within AdTech and media companies.

He was the group financial controller for Unruly Media, where he was heavily involved in the company’s £114m sale to News Corp.

The investment in PowerLinks, which closed in December last year, marked the fourteenth deal for Foresight’s private equity team in 2017.

John Cordrey, investment manager at Foresight commented: “PowerLinks represents an opportunity to back a high-growth business, operating in an exciting segment of the fast-growing AdTech sector, with a strong management team and well invested platform.

“Powerlinks has delivered exceptional growth and built fantastic client relationships. We welcome Alex and Mickey, whose sector experience will ensure we continue to provide the best quality of service to our growing roster of customers.”

PowerLinks CEO Kevin Flood said: “PowerLinks is poised to drive exponential growth for our customers, by meeting the challenge of automating relevant, personalised advertising to busy consumers who are overwhelmed with choice.

“This investment will accelerate our expansion and innovation plans. We are delighted to have Foresight’s backing and shared vision.

“The Foresight team, together with the recent appointment of Alex and Mickey, will inject a wealth of experience in scaling transformative digital businesses.”