Location-Based Marketing Startup Placecast Is Moving Into Mobile Ads (And AdTech) With PlaceAd

Placecast, a mobile marketing company that has built out a business around services like its ShopAlerts geo-targeted messaging notifications for people physically near locations like stores, is now taking the next step to link up advertisers and mobile consumers. It is launching PlaceAd, a demand-side platform that connects Placecast’s location technology with mobile ad networks so advertisers can deliver campaigns based on location, as well as other user-specific criteria like age, gender, interests, device type/operating system, time of day, and weather.

The hope is that by doing this, Placecast will be able to better tap into the $9 billion that analysts forecast will be spent on mobile ad campaigns this year.

PlaceAd is kicking off with partnerships with MoPub, PubMatic, and Smaato, who will collectively inventory from the mobile publishers it works with into the platform. This will put inventory from mobile publishers like BET Networks, Songza, My Fitness Pal, NGMoco, Flixster, MSNBC, Handmark and EA on to PlaceAd. Meanwhile, Placecast’s existing brand advertisers for its marketing business include Starbucks, L’Oreal, Kiehl’s, Pizza Hut, HP, Subway, and SC Johnson, and CEO Alistair Goodman tells us that these would be likely candidates to be initial and early users of the DSP.

“Over the last 2 years big brands have been running geofencing campaigns on our platform,” he says. “There’s been an enormous amt of interest in getting that scale for advertising, too.”

While the PlaceAd DSP is a sign of how Placecast is leveraging the data it collects on user behaviour, and extending more products to the customer base it has amassed, it is also a sign of how, for newer players tapping into the growth of mobile advertising, the bigger gains right now may be precisely in adtech.

This is a smart move, considering that there is consolidation underway in mobile ad networks — the latest being JumpTap getting acquired by Millennial Media — as companies try to scale to better compete against the likes of Google, which has a a disproportionate lead at the moment.

Meanwhile, adtech, which will help publishers and brands make more intelligent ad buys to target mobile users, is still a nascent area, and is one that, you could argue, will be an essential part in how the mobile ad industry will actually grow in the way that everyone projects it will. Adtech is also something that is not immune to consolidation. Just last week Amobee bought adtech firm Gradient X just as the young startup is coming out of beta.

This is especially important as mobile advertising matures and extends beyond the mobile-focused games and services that have accounted for a large part of mobile advertising.

“Facebook and Google are commanding the lion’s share of advertising but publishers are still looking for an additional and better way to reach audiences at scale,” said Goodman. “What we are offering is a single buy for mobile display ad campaigns that use location and geofencing to give them a really strong tool, which will be particularly good for those selling goods and services in the real world.”

In addition to linking up with larger ad networks and the audience targeting based on criteria like location, age, gender, device and other factors, PlaceAd will provide a dashboard for publishers and media buyers to track responses to campaigns; enable real-time bidding on a per-impression basis; and provide the ability to use analytics to update ad campaigns down to specific store locations.

Photo: Flickr