Sparklabs fourth batch recently kicked off and I had the chance to speak with one of their most promising startups, OnnuriDMC.
OnnuriDMC operates a mobile advertising platform, CrossTarget, that the founders believe has solved a major issue for mobile advertisers; being able to track users in the mobile app environment in real time.
In the PC environment advertisers are able to easily track user behavior through cookies, but this is generally not possible in the native app environment on mobile devices. As 90% of the time spent on mobile is in apps, this is a major issue for advertisers.
As tracing user behavior has been very difficult on mobile, serving appropriate Ads to users has been near-impossible.
Co-founder Jay Yang explained that the key success factor for mobile ads is to find the right people and then serve the right ads to them at the right time. In order to achieve this, ad platforms need to identify each visitor in real-time. Facebook, google, Twitter and a number of other large corporations who have their own apps can track users through login, but almost no one else can. “We thought we could solve this problem for advertisers and believed that this would demonstrate a revolution in the mobile advertising market,” Yang went on.
Development and Launch
Last year the team set out to solve this problem by matching device IDs, such as Google and Android advertising ID with third party cookies. Earlier this year the team succeeded in building a prototype and launched the full service domestically in April 2014. The launch was made possible through partnerships with a number of key media companies in Korea who validated Onnuri’s thesis and the quality of their technological solution.
“Performance in the first month was three times as effective as traditional mobile advertising,” Yang explained. “We are now continuing to expand our media networks and are working with a rapidly growing number of advertisers right now.”
Yang and the team hope to leverage their experience at Sparklabs to eventually expand their technology to the global market, starting with the USA. They are also hoping to conduct further tests and updates to ensure that efficiency of the service is maximized, in preparation for their planned expansion.
How Does CrossTarget Work?
Other mobile advertisers have used finger printing technologies, attempting to determine usage patterns from the behavior of users and then statistically inferring user identity. This has not resulted in accurate real-time information that is required by advertisers. CrossTarget is a DMP (Data Management Platform) for mobile advertisers which automatically identifies specific audiences by pairing the user’s device Advertising ID and 3rd Party Cookies. This innovation in the mobile ad environment has resulted in higher CTRs for publishers and better ROAS (return on Ad spend) for advertisers.
As well as accurate analysis of target audiences, CrossTarget distributes client ads across a range of Ad networks. “Now we can actually trace individual users, and wider ad audiences. Because we know a lot about the end users, the accuracy of our Ad targeting is much higher,” Yang explained.
On Joining Sparklabs
The team is working towards closing their Series A funding which will be used to update the service and to make full preparations for their US launch. They will be then seek follow-on funding in order to establish themselves as a truly global brand. “Through Sparklabs we want to build out our global networks particularly in the US, with a view to raising series B funding as a next step to expanding into the US,’ Yang explained.
‘We are hoping that the Sparklabs network will help us to understand the global market better and help us build relationships with strategic investors who can support our establishment and growth in the US,” Yang commented on their reasons for joining the program.
The majority of day-to-day communication with their Sparklabs assigned mentors has been through email or Skype. However, the team has also been able to meet some of their mentors face to face in Seoul. For example Rob Demillo, who has over 20 years of expertise in their field, was a speaker at a recent event in Seoul, where he also met the team.
Why the US Market?
Yang pointed out that the market size is 20 times bigger than Korea. “We are also confident that our technology will add value to advertisers in the US, because we believe that we are the only company to have solved the issue of tracing user behavior in real-time,” he went on.
While the US is OnnuriDMC’s top choice for now, the company also has plans to expand in Asia, starting with Japan. Yang stressed that the problem they have solved for advertisers is not unique to any given country and suggested that by opening their API to other Advertising companies, they could easily provide their services globally, through the cloud.