Mobile-Focused Ad Tech Startup Run Raises $1.5M From Verizon Ventures

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Run, which offers ad-buying tools and analytics, is announcing that it has raised $1.5 million in funding from Verizon’s strategic investment arm Verizon Ventures.

Co-founder and COO Dan Schwartz said that demand-side platforms (which are used by advertisers to buy ads across multiple ad exchanges and data sources) have mostly taken two approaches when it comes to mobile.

First, there are the traditional DSPs that started on desktop and are now looking at mobile. Second, there are startups focused on mobile exclusively. He described Run, on the other hand, as part of “the first crop of ad-tech 2.0 companies” and one that’s taking a “mobile-first approach” to ad buying while still running campaigns across devices.

Schwartz’s co-founder and CEO Seth Hittman added that the kind of programmatic ad buying that Run specializes in provides a big opportunity for mobile: “It’s no secret that there’s a whole lot of unsold inventory.”

The company was actually founded back in 2010, and this is its first outside investment. Schwartz said that’s because Run had a product and revenue pretty quickly — also, he and Hittman didn’t pay themselves for the first 20 months.

Their approach has evolved. At first Run was focused purely on ad buying, but over time it added analytics and tracking. Combined with its buying tools, Hittman said Run can “connect all those dots” for advertisers.

One feature that Hittman and Schwartz highlighted in our conversation is their ability to track users without cookies (which is pretty much a necessity if you want to track users on mobile). They said they hope to help build industry-wide standards around cookie-less tracking, for example through their work with the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

By the way, the company’s ad-buying product is called Run DSP, a name that Hittman is pretty proud of, perhaps justifiably.