Uru Uses Computer Vision to Revolutionize Video Advertising

Born out of NYC’s Cornell Tech, Uru is the new frontier for advertisers: content-aware ads for video and beyond

Despite an imperfect user experience, advertisers spent a whopping $10B in video ads this year alone. Meanwhile, at its Worldwide Developers Conference conference this spring, Apple announced that new Safari browsers will block autoplay videos, putting pressure on advertisers to come up with more creative, less spammy ads. In order to make the most of ad spend, brands must find a more effective way to create a confluence between themselves, creators, and fans. Aligning brands with their loyal followers in a non-obtrusive, personalized way, has the power to benefit companies, publishers, and fans alike.

As Cornell Tech students, Bill Marino and Brunno Attorre founded Uru to create a less obtrusive, more powerful advertising experience for both brands and users. Leveraging computer vision and other artificial intelligence, Uru understands what is inside videos — their objects, themes, and level of brand safety as well as the opportunities in and around the content where brands can be present. Next, Uru uses uses all that knowledge to activate ad experiences that better harmonize with the content.

For example, Uru can instantly identify surfaces inside the content where ads or brands graphics can be seamlessly and dynamically immersed. A blank wall, a plain t-shirt, or skateboard, for example, can become a canvas for advertisers to introduce a brand in an intimate and non-obtrusive way. A viral cat video can now become prime real estate for a Friskies logo, or a video of a snowboarder making his way down the mountain now can include a Gatorade logo directly on the board.

The founders met in the computer science masters program at Cornell Tech, Cornell’s new science campus in New York City. Before grad school, Brunno worked as a software engineer at JP Morgan Chase and at Brazilian e-commerce company Buscapé. Bill began his career as a lawyer before getting turned onto computer science and joining Mashable’s data science team, focused on video data.

Uru was born out of a Cornell Tech Startup Studio class taught by Box Group’s David Tisch, which focuses on transforming an idea into a sustainable enterprise through cycles of prototyping and customer validation. Brunno and Bill have also worked alongside professor and computer vision luminary Serge Belongie, a serial entrepreneur and technical advisor to several companies including Digital Persona, Anchovi Labs (acquired by Dropbox) and Orpix. The team also won the $100k Startup Award at Cornell Tech, an honor granted by a small committee of industry experts and given to a few startups per year.

Uru has garnered the support and attention of many of NYC’s leading accelerators and investors: the team participated in eBay’s Friends of eBay accelerator last summer and Y&R’s SparkPlug accelerators and also just joined the 2018 cohort of Grand Central Tech. In December 2016, the team announced they had raised $800,000 led by Notation Capital, with participation from Betaworks, PJC, RDV, Thatcher Bell, Christian Noske, Giphy CEO Alex Chung, Chris Cunningham of C2 Ventures, Eric Franchi of Undertone, and Presence Capital.

We’re excited to work alongside Brunno and Bill at Uru as they revolutionize video advertising. You can read more about Uru at their website, and stay tuned for updates from the team on Twitter at @uruvideo.

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