Y Combinator-Backed Mth Sense Aims To Improve Mobile Ad Targeting Based On Your App History

As mobile publishers and advertisers struggle to know more about the users who are seeing their ads, a Y Combinator-backed startup called Mth Sense is offering a new approach to the problem — it looks at consumers’ app usage data to create a profile of their demographics and interests.

This is an area that’s attracting investor dollars. Perhaps most notably, both Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested in a startup called Drawbridge, which connects user data on mobile and desktop devices. So what’s Mth Sense doing differently? CEO and co-founder Mandar Agte says there are existing solutions to target mobile ads based on the app you’re using when the ad is served, but that provides a pretty limited view of the user.

Mth Sense (the name is a play on “sixth sense”, with the “M” standing for “mobile”), on the other hand, makes inferences about who you are based on all the apps that you use. For example, if someone uses the Pinterest, Vogue, and Dora the Explorer apps, Agte says there’s a good chance that they’re a soccer mom. That, in turn, makes it possible to target ads to that user more effectively. It can also target ads based on device activity at the moment the ad is served. For example, it might be helpful to know that your phone is playing jazz as you’re using a certain app.

Early beta campaigns showed an accuracy rate of about 70 percent, Agte says — and that should get better over time, because each profile is continuously refined with more data about the apps you’re using.

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All of the data and profiles are stored “client-side” — “None of the user data leaves the device,” says president and co-founder Mohan Balachandran, so he’s hoping that Mth Sense can use the data to target ads without raising concerns that the company is tracking users inappropriately or creating a security risk.

There are currently 52 apps signed up to use the Mth Sense SDK, including educational app maker TapToLearn. It’s also integrating with ad tech services like the recently launched Human Demand. Ultimately, Agte says, “We want this solution to go in every application, since it’s a very agnostic tool.”