RadiumOne, an online ad network that aims to combine social and intent data to serve ads, is getting into the group messaging space today. The company is releasing a free, group messaging app for iOS and Android called PingMe Messenger that allows users to message each other in real-time, across platforms.
The app has actually come out of RadiumOne Labs, a division of RadiumOne, which incubates what the company calls ‘first-party products’ for the publisher community they serve. The first product to be released by RadiumOne Labs is PingMe.
Similar to other group messaging apps, PingMe gives users the ability to send realtime messages to friends and family without incurring text messaging costrs, similar to the act of sending a BBM on a BlackBerry phone. Once downloaded, the app allows users to connect with their friends through their telephone’s address book, Facebook, or the PingMe network. The registration process is fairly simple—your phone number is your user ID, and you don’t need a password or hard-to-remember PIN to connect with your friends.
With the app, which only cost $160K and took 4 months to develop, you can chat with friends in groups or individually with the same speed of messaging as BBM. And PingMe is free in the U.S. and worldwide and offers unlimited messaging.
Some of the more unique features of PingMe include an opt-in geo-location functionality that lets friends find each other based on their location, the ability to post status updates a news feed and PingMe tells you when someone sends you a message – even when PingMe is closed.
So why is a social advertising company getting into the group messaging game? Eventually, the goal is to offer a white label, skinned version of the app to publishers and advertisers that they can offer to customers, says founder Gurbaksh Chahal.
For background, RadiumOne mines social data and use this information to identify relevant consumers for brands. Through what Chahal calls “social retargeting,” RadiumOne analyzes how users interact with one another on social networks to find the consumers that identify with a brand’s current customer base, and then serves advertisements to this audience across the company’s network of publishers. The company just raised $21 million in new funding at a $200 million valuation.
RadiumOne Labs will be launching a number of similar white-label offerings for advertisers and publishers in the future for various products, Chahal explains. While PingMe will go head to head with GroupMe (recently acquired by Skype), Facebook, and others; Chahal doesn’t seem to be too worried about the competition and believes there’s still room for innovation in the group messaging space. RadiumOne will launch PingMe apps for BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices in the next few weeks.