Veterans holding media jobs in mobile advertising agencies over the last few years will be acutely aware that, when it comes to ad retargeting, they’re confronted with a yawning mobile advertising gap. Ad retargeting serves users different, relevant ads depending on which sites they’ve been browsing — and it’s much, much harder on mobile devices.
Anyone with any kind of media jobs experience in online advertising can tell you that clickthroughs on retargeted ads are substantially higher than on random display ads. But retargeting on mobile devices presents some big hurdles. Apple’s iPad and iPhone browser blocks third party cookies. How do you retarget when you can’t drop a cookie?
Tapad to the rescue
That’s where clever startups like Tapad come in. Founded two years ago in New York by Are Traasdahl – the man behind ringtone company Thumbplay – Tapad can analyze hundreds of data points, including content source, browser type and device type, and then target ads to consumers across device platforms. And it claims it can do so with 70 – 75 per cent accuracy.
That may be one reason why it’s just attracted $6.5 million in Series B funding from some heavyweight investors. The round was led by Firsthand Technology but the lineup of other New York ad-tech angels is impressive: they include AppNexus founder Brian O’Kelley and DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt, who had already pitched $1.8 million in the startup’s first funding round in 2011. Curent estimates indicate that Tapad is now worth over $140 million.
Cross platform intelligence
Tapad doesn’t just drop cookies onto a browser: for Apple devices, they only work during a session anyway. It uses other signals like the network ID the device is using and its own unique signature; when it sees an Android device visit a website and then use an app from the same WiFi network within a few minutes of each other, it figures that the user is very likely the same person.
It aims to pinpoint users not through personally identifiable information but by what device they’re using, retargeting someone who’s visited a mobile website or opened an app when they reappear somewhere else.
According to Traasdhal, the results are not to be scoffed at: clickthrough improvements are similar to retargeting results online and can lift the number up by 50 to 150 per cent.