Mobile real-time bidding platform Tapad has raised $1.8 million as the company looks to carve a niche for itself in the retargeting space. It also comes as the New York startup is just made some key hires, including Kate O’Loughlin, who comes over from DSP MediaMath, Are Traasdahl tells paidContent.
The other two hires are Andrew Slome, a sales exec at WPP Group’s 24/7 Real Media and Vivian Chang, who was previously the product lead Microsoft’s defunct in-game ad unit Massive.
As e-commerce and social shopping have boomed this past year, retargeting has become particularly attractive to marketer and publishers.
Last year, online shoes retailer Zappos got some heat from customers who complained about receiving the exact same add repeatedly. In retargeting, consumers who go to a marketers’ website, check out the merchandise but leave without making a purchase, get sent ads from the marketer on other sites they visit in hopes of convincing them to come back and buy something.
It has moved past some early controversies. For example, Zappos subsequently adjusted its system and worked to make sure it wouldn’t bug their customers with repeats of the same ad. That’s become the cautionary tale as retargeting has grown into a potentially lucrative part of online advertising.
There’s been a lot of activity this past week in the retargeting and e-commerce space. The other day, retargeting startup TellApart raised $13 million to support personalized display ads.
In the e-commerce area, Hearst Digital Magazines struck a deal with images ad network Pixazza to give mag site visitors access to information about products in photos on the site and make purchases from online images that are displayed alongside editorial content. The Pixazza program is starting out only on Redbookmag.com and HouseBeautiful.com, but it will likely expand to other titles and offer greater possibilities for retargeting.
As Techcrunch points out, mobile retargeting has it’s own special challenges. For one thing, the iPhone and iPad does not allow third party tracking cookies on its Safari browser, essentially making retargeting impossible. Android doesn’t have the same restrictions, so Tapad is limited to the use of that platform. However, Traasdahl said he’s working on a Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iOS product and could release that before the end of the month.
In any case, Tapad attracted a long list of marquee-name backers in its system. Aside from VC firms Firstmark Capital, Lerer Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures taking the lead, the $1.8 million was supplied by former DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt, Clickable CEO David Kidder, 24/7 Real Media co-founder Geoff Judge, AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, Simulmedia head Dave Morgan and others.
“Retargeting works, because we know that the consumer needs to interface with a brand five to seven times until a decision is made,” said Traasdahl, who previously founded cloud-based music streamer Thumbplay and sold it to Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO), in an interview with paidContent last week.
While Tapad is still concentrating on expanding its services, it’s still working on building up mobile as a medium for RTB, which remains its primary business. As mobile is expected to hit a billion in ad spending this year, that space is still got time until it takes off, but Tapad should be well-positioned when it does. In the meantime, apart from retargeting, Tapad next plans to round out its services with a new location-targeting product sometime in the next few months.