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New York’s Carnival morphs from app developer to smart marketing platform

Brands and mobile adver­tis­ing agen­cies have a new ally in the form of Car­ni­val, the one-time mobile devel­op­ment agency which mor­phed at the close of 2013 into a nifty new mobile mar­ket­ing platform.

An untapped opportunity

Ahead of its switch of empha­sis, it suc­cess­ful­ly raised $2.4 mil­lion in seed fund­ing last year to smooth the tran­si­tion. Head­quar­tered in New York and with an addi­tion­al office in New Zealand, Car­ni­val began life in 2008 as a mobile app devel­op­er, which is hard­ly sur­pris­ing giv­en that its co-founders Guy Hor­rocks and Toby Cox had been lit­er­al­ly steeped in mobile long before the mobile explo­sion. They were devel­op­ing apps for the iPhone before there was an iTunes App Store.

But any­one with expe­ri­ence of media jobs in mobile adver­tis­ing agen­cies will be aware that, in the wake of the bur­geon­ing uptake of mobile devices, most brands have brought app devel­op­ment in-house, which set Hor­rocks and Cox onto think­ing about what else Car­ni­val could offer this flour­ish­ing cor­ner of Adland.

And all that expe­ri­ence of app devel­op­ment for big brands led them to what they believe is an untapped oppor­tu­ni­ty in the mobile adver­tis­ing world. Yes, brands are devel­op­ing their own apps, but do they know how to main­tain them and do they know how to get the best out of them? Using apps as pock­et bill­boards isn’t the best way of retain­ing cus­tomer loy­al­ty and engage­ment, Hor­rocks and Cox believe – once the one-month cam­paign clos­es, the app’s job is kind of fin­ished. Users just don’t get fol­lowed up.

The Bud­dy Media of mobile?

Add to that the fact that while brands might have mul­ti­ple apps, they also tend to be high­ly siloed. And this is where Car­ni­val comes to the res­cue: its plat­form lets brands or the mobile adver­tis­ing agen­cies they use to aggre­gate all the brand’s users in one place. That per­mits wide-reach­ing ana­lyt­ics on the whole user base and lets mul­ti­ple cam­paigns to be run with users being tar­get­ed through in-app mes­sages, push noti­fi­ca­tions, inter­ac­tive con­tent like con­tests, sweep­stakes and coupons and much else besides.

Users can not only be geo-tar­get­ed with the car­ni­val plat­form, they can be tar­get­ed accord­ing to oth­er met­rics as well, includ­ing engage­ment, loy­al­ty, device or soft­ware version.

That’s a pret­ty cool bat­tery of tools. Is this the new Bud­dy Media for mobile?

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