mNectar Raises $7M For New Kinds Of Mobile Ads That Let People Test-Drive Apps

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First, there were teeny mobile banner ads pioneered by companies like AdMob, which Google bought for $750 million. Then there were full-screen interstitial ads. Those gave way to mobile video ads and then Facebook’s behemoth of a targeted mobile ad network.

So what’s next in mobile advertising?

A company called mNectar is betting that consumers will want to test drive mobile apps from right within ads. They’ve raised $7 million from NEA to do it. Rick Yang, a principal from the firm, is joining the board.

“When you buy music, I like to listen to a song for 30 to 60 seconds before buying an album. I thought this was fundamentally broken for apps,” said CEO Wally Nguyen. “Mobile advertising is broken. With static interstitials, there’s not enough information for a user to make a decision.”

mNectar units are full-screen, interactive ads that let you trial a game or app for a short amount of time.

They’ve racked up a client list, including Big Fish Games, Buffalo Studios, GREE, King, Wooga, Zeptolab and Zynga. Each mNectar unit is like a full-screen interstitial without any wrapper around the ad unit. You can test drive a few kinds of their ads here.

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The costs are roughly $3 to $7 per install.

“It’s a high range, but we don’t force or preset pricing, and advertisers keep coming back to buy again,” said Nguyen, who was previously at another gaming monetization startup called Pocket Change.

Marketing and user acquisition for apps has always been a persistent issue within the Android and iOS app stores. There have been many solutions over the years, from earlier scammier attempts to game the rankings to App Store search optimization. As both stores have become increasingly crowded with north of 2 million apps, developers have had to become savvier and more data-driven about how their markets work.

That has meant that hyper-specific targeting has become increasingly important, along with new kinds of interactive mobile ad formats. That’s where mNectar would come in.

What is mNectar? from mNectar on Vimeo.