Article from NYTimes.
Google’s venture capital arm is investing in a start-up founded by Apple alumni that is seeking to make mobile users a little less anonymous to advertisers.
Adelphic Mobile, based in Boston, has raised $10 million from Google Ventures and Matrix Partners, a firm that invested in the company during an earlier fund-raising round. The company has raised $12 million to date.
Adelphic was founded in 2010 by Changfeng Wang and Jennifer Lum, both of whom used to work for Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising start-up that was acquired by Apple and became the foundation for iAd, Apple’s mobile advertising network.
Mobile advertising has been a disappointment to many people in the technology industry. The explosion of mobile devices initially prompted exhilaration among marketers about the potential for peppering people with ads on the cellphones that are always at hand. Google and Apple both bought start-ups to help bolster their mobile advertising efforts.
But many companies, including Facebook, have found it more difficult to make money from mobile advertising than through traditional Web sites. That is in part because of the limited screen real estate people have on their smartphones and their wariness about having it filled up with advertising.
“It’s not growing nearly at the rate it should have been given mobile media consumption rates,” said Ms. Lum, the president of Adelphic.
Adelphic is focused on another problem with mobile advertising: the relative poverty of data that advertisers have about the mobile users they are trying to reach. Through Web browsers on computers, it is easier to deliver targeted ads to users by keeping data on their browsing habits employing tools like browser cookies, the small identification files advertising networks place on computers.
Mobile advertisers do not know as much about users because mobile browsers and apps are not as commonly configured to allow the kinds of identification techniques that work on computers. As a result, advertisers do not know much more about the audiences they are trying to reach other than the type of cellphone they have and the wireless network they are on, Ms. Lum said.
Adelphic seeks to paint a more detailed picture of mobile Web users by using complex software to analyze dozens of “signals” about mobile users’ online activities, though Adelphic is not willing to go into too much detail about how the process works (it says it respects the privacy policies of the publishers that show its advertising).
Through its data mining, the company says it can identify the likely age of mobile users, as well as their gender and general location. In turn, the company tells advertisers it can deliver ads to the specific audiences they are after.
Rich Miner, general partner at Google Ventures, said in an interview that mobile advertising would become more effective over time and that Adelphic’s service was helping to push the market forward.
“With the growth of mobile, we’re still very early and, just like in traditional online ads, there’s still a tremendous amount of innovation and value to be created,” said Mr. Miner, who also co-founded Android. Google acquired that company and used its technology as the basis for its Android mobile operating system.
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