Freespee, the European mobile click-to-call advertising and analytics startup, has raised a new round of funding: €3.3 million (approx. $4.3m) led by pan-European early-stage investor Sunstone Capital. This brings the total raised by the company to €5.2 million.
Freespee says it plans to use the new capital to continue building out its location-aware mobile click-to-call advertising products, as well ramping up its marketing efforts. It’s also talking about establishing a commercial headquarters in London, as well as expanding its development center in Uppsala, Sweden. The startup currently has commercial offices in Berlin, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
Along with today’s funding news, Freespee is also announcing the launch of Freespee Ads, a new product aimed at businesses targeting mobile users which combines click-to-call “rich media” ad units, access to location data and call-filtering tools, while pricing is based on connected and filtered inbound phone calls, instead of impressions or clicks.
It builds on the startup’s wider premise that if a mobile ad can offer a painless way to initiate a phone call — click-to-call — those that take up that offer are likely to convert. Freespee Ads is the ad network part of that offering, whilst the company’s other product, Freespee Analytics, focuses on providing analytics to measure and track the success of mobile click-to-call ad campaigns. Or another way to think of it is similar to the difference between Google AdWords and Google Analytics.
Also noteworthy is that both of the products are directly available to advertisers and agencies.
Competitors are a mixed bag. In Europe, Freespee claims to be the leading call analytics provider, offering the largest international first-tier coverage. Meanwhile, in the UK, there’s local competition, with call tracking companies like AdInsight, and in the U.S. companies such as RingRevenue and Telmetrics.
Furthermore, Freespee says that many agencies use Freespee to analyse calls from Google advertising, but that Google could also become a direct competitor in mobile click-to-call advertising. “Currently in Europe, exclusively in the UK, Google has the only advertising offering besides Freespee which allows advertisers to base their ad pricing bid on connected calls”, says Juhani Polkko, CMO of Freespee.
However, for now at least, the biggest challenge is actually establishing the market for click-to-call mobile advertising itself.
“Our biggest challenge and opportunity is to educate and build the market, instead of worrying about the competition. We can clearly see from our stats that the growth of mobile advertising massively increases the call traffic and thus demand for the solutions we are offering. There are still many marketers who believe the opposite”, adds Polkko.