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Tapad Brings Audience-based Buying to Mobile Devices

  |  March 3, 2011   |  Comments

Startup hopes to power real-time, data-driven media opportunities across mobile and tablet devices, as well as connected TVs.

Ad technology startup Tapad launched today with plans to bring audience-based ad buying to mobile and tablet devices, as well as other connected devices such as TVs.

Based in New York, the company boasts an impressive array of ad industry veterans among its investors, including Brian O'Kelley, founder of Right Media and AppNexus; Dave Morgan, founder of Tacoda; and ex DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt to name but a few.

Utilizing emerging technologies including device fingerprinting, Tapad claims its platform - which is yet to launch commercially - will enable marketers to buy inventory in real-time based on behavioral information and other data. That type of opportunity has been lacking in the mobile space to date, owing largely to difficulties in placing third party cookies on devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The company also hopes to power cross-device targeting and conversion attribution, by identifying associations between individual devices, and subsequently tracking users' behavior across multiple touch points. For example, it might enable an advertiser to target ads to a user's desktop P.C. following a visit to their site from a mobile device.

"Tapad will be able to provide advertisers with the data they need to put the most relevant ad in front of the most valuable user, on whatever smart device they might be using," the company's CEO, Are Traasdahl told ClickZ.

The company is one of a handful startups currently experimenting with ways to more accurately identify, track, and target emerging devices. Rivals in the space include BlueCava and Ringleader.

From a technology perspective most of what can currently be achieved with data-informed media buying on desktop devices can be easily applied to mobile, Traasdahl said. The problem, though, is how to tie data to devices without the use of cookies.

"The issue in mobile has been that third party cookies work on less than 60 percent of devices, based on our testing. This is because the carriers strip them off at the gateway, the devices can't accept them, or they are shipped with third-party cookies turned off. There are so many different, fragmented market standards," Bob Walczak, CEO of Ringleader Digital, explained.

It's this hurdle that Ringleader, Tapad, and BlueCava are attempting to overcome, using new identification methods including fingerprinting as an alternative to cookies.

When a connected device accesses content or services, it transmits bits of information about its properties and settings. For example, a smartphone might communicate details of which operating system and browser versions it's running, its time zone, and which carrier network it’s using, to name but a few. These individual signals can be collected and pieced together to form a unique, persistent "fingerprint" for that specific device.

In Tapad's case it will make use of fingerprinting - alongside other methods - to perform a similar role to cookies on desktop machines. For example, behavioral data tied to fingerprints could enable marketers and advertisers to make dynamic decisions about the value of an impression before buying an ad.

The company plans to launch its platform in the U.S. later this year.



Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011. 

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