Adsquare Locates $4.3M Funding To Serve Ads Based On Location And Context Without Being Too Creepy

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More VC money continues to slosh around the Berlin adtech scene. In the last two months we’ve seen Adjust raise a $7.6 million Series C, and upstart Remerge secure $1 million in seed funding. Two exits also took place. Ad network Moboqo was acquired by Silicon Valley’s AppLovin, and Fyber sold to RNTS Media for €150 million. Today sees another Berlin-based adtech startup get an injection of capital.

Adsquare, which provides a platform for Mobile Audience Targeting to help advertisers target groups of people based on their location, has raised a $4.3 million Series A round led by German VC Target Partners, with participation from existing investors. This adds to a previous $1.4 million seed round from Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg, Berlin Ventures and various angel investors.

The late 2012-founded startup is an interesting proposition, considering it trades in location data without relying on the use of cookies and in a way it claims complies with strict European data protection laws. Why is that significant? Well, Germany has been leading the privacy charge in the EU, specifically around user profiling — something it claims Google falls foul of with the way it shares user data across multiple services.

Adsquare’s ‘Data-as-a-Service’ pitch to advertisers is that it can bridge the gap between offline behaviour and online advertising by enabling campaigns to be tailored to wherever a target group happens to be and what, therefore, they are potentially doing at that exact moment. Its tech does this by analysing the current local context of anonymous users in real time based on what the startup says are billions of data points. The premise being that where people go and when they go are a strong indicator of their personal interests and, crucially, intent.

Serving up ads based on intent has long been a cash-cow for Google in search, but nobody has really cracked it on mobile based on location, and in a way that isn’t creepy. Adsquare’s hoping to change that.

“We only work with anonymized data and do not process any personally identifiable information,” explains Adsquare’s CEO Tom Laband. “Instead of saving the lat/long of a user, we map the ad request into our grid structure and analyze the local context.”

So, for example, being at a specific cinema qualifies as being “entertainment savvy”. Furthermore, Laband says the size of each “grid” varies depending on population density, but that in urban areas it can be up to 50×50 metres. “For every square we analyze up to 1,500 dynamic data points to describe the local context e.g. POIs, events, weather, household data. At no stage we save lat/longs for movement profiles,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Adsquare says the Series A financing will be used to accelerate the startup’s growth and international expansion, as well as for product development. Competitors include PlaceIQ, xAD, and Factual — all of whom are U.S.-based.