When two of the biggest names in venture capital (arguably still the biggest) both invest in a startup, you know it’s probably time to take notice. So yes, take notice: A cross-device ad targeting startup called Drawbridge has raised a $6.5 million Series A from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.
The company was founded in November 2010 by Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, a scientist at AdMob and then, after the acquisition, at Google. Sivaramakrishnan says she started the company because she saw the proliferation of ad targeting technology on the desktop web, while there was “no significant technology innovation” on the mobile side. So she decided to tackle the problem herself, “outside of the big G.”
Since then, Sivaramakrishnan says her team has built “very heavy-duty technology” to link up ad targeting on desktop and mobile. Drawbridge looks at activity on the desktop Web, and on mobile Web and apps. Then it uses “probabilistic and statistical inference models” to suggest which PC and mobile users are likely to be the same person using two different devices.
“Over time, we get enough confidence on the probability of these two activities belonging to the same user that deem it to be a ‘pair’,” she says.
And once a pair has been made, mobile advertisers have access to user data that’s being collected on the desktop, and can target their ads with much more nuance. In addition to the technology disparity between desktop and mobile, Sivaramakrishnan notes that people are usually using their mobile devices for a relatively narrow range of activity, usually entertainment or content consumption, so it’s only by accessing to their desktop activity that advertisers can determine “commercial-grade intent.”
The model also steers clear of any privacy concerns, Sivaramakrishnan says. There’s no personally identifiable information collected — no phone numbers, no email addresses, no Facebook accounts. In the meantime, Apple has started rejecting apps that access UDIDs to identify their users, which Sivaramakrishnan says makes Drawbridge “even more pertinent and significant now than when UDIDs were being lazily used as mobile cookies.”
“You don’t need a device ID to do advertising,” she adds.
Even though Drawbridge is only coming out of stealth today, Sivaramakrishnan says it has already been running campaigns with major advertisers and has significant revenue. The platform is still in beta testing, with plans for general availability in the second half of this year. Sivaramakrishnan also says the model could be expanded to other connected devices, not just desktop PCs and phones.
Drawbridge previously raised a seed round of undisclosed size from Kleiner and Sequoia.