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Fast-rising mobile ad agency Verve is set for the stars with $14 million venture funding deal

Loca­tion-based mobile adver­tis­ing agency Verve Mobile, which spe­cial­izes in geo-tar­get­ed and geo-fenced cam­paigns, has boost­ed its cof­fers yet again with a third round of ven­ture fund­ing led by Nokia Growth Part­ners and Qualcomm.

Oth­er investors includ­ed BlueRun Ven­tures, a reg­u­lar fun­der of up-and-com­ing mobile adver­tis­ing agen­cies, and this lat­est $14 mil­lion cash injec­tion brings Verve’s total invest­ment to at least $21 mil­lion (the com­pa­ny secured $7 mil­lion from BlueRun in the pre­vi­ous round, so $21 mil­lion is prob­a­bly a con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate). In the world of mobile phones adver­tis­ing, this agency is clear­ly doing some­thing right.

A mobile star rises

Just take a look at the stats: the agency’s net­work attracts 108 mil­lion uniques every month and can now claim brag­ging rights over 6 bil­lion month­ly impres­sions.  Com­pare that with one of the real­ly big guys, pub­licly trad­ed mobile adver­tis­ing firm Mil­len­ni­al Media: it made over $47.4 mil­lion in rev­enue last year when it hit 380 mil­lion uniques in Q3. That’s not a bad com­par­i­son for a ris­ing firm that start­ed life in 2005 – the era that saw the birth of a wave of mobile ad firms like AdMob (now owned by Google) and Quat­tro (now owned by Apple). Verve is still owned by itself.

Verve claims that its loca­tion based tech­nol­o­gy is the secret to its suc­cess. It lets adver­tis­ers geo-fence their cam­paigns or tar­get their ads to tight­ly lim­it­ed geo­graph­i­cal areas.  A ban­ner ad cam­paign by Verve for a Texas gro­cery chain raised the click­through rate by 4 per cent by putting the customer’s dis­tance from the near­est store into the commercial’s creative.

Sim­i­lar­ly, a cam­paign for H&M focus­ing on its David Beck­ham-brand­ed wear geo-fenced the ads to three cities: New York, Los Ange­les and San Fran­cis­co. Like the Texas exam­ple, cus­tomers were invit­ed to go vis­it the near­est store.

The geo-tar­get­ing suc­cess story

The loca­tion-tar­get­ing fea­ture devel­oped by Verve can more than dou­ble a mobile ad campaign’s effec­tive­ness, the com­pa­ny claims. The indus­try aver­age for mobile ads is a click­through rate of 0.4 per cent; Verve’s geo-tar­get­ed cam­paigns hike this to around 1 per cent.

A sign of the firm’s suc­cess can be seen in the num­ber of offices it now has: they can be found in Atlanta, Chica­go, Dal­las, Detroit, Los Ange­les, New York City, San Diego, San Fran­cis­co and Wash­ing­ton D.C.

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