The rapid growth in the world of apps — Google Play and Apple‘s App Store have over one million apps each — has given rise to a vast number of ways that developers are trying to get their own apps to stand apart from the crowd. Now a new startup wants to help developers manage and analyse the success of those disparate marketing channels.
Singular, a cross-channel, cloud-based mobile marketing platform founded by execs from Israeli startup Onavo — the mobile analytics company acquired by Facebook last year — is already working with companies like Kabam, GREE, Storm8, Hotel Tonight, Big Fish Games, Perfect World and GetTaxi.
It claims to be the first platform that provides marketers with insights into their marketing performance, by unifying the entire mobile marketing ecosystem, with insights into marketer’s ad network data that then gets combined with data from other services like ad trackers, BI solutions, and other databases.
And now it is announcing a seed round of $5 million.
The financing comes from a single investor, General Catalyst Partners, whose MD Neil Sequeira is joining Singular’s board.
Gadi Elishayov, Onavo’s former head of research who is Singular’s CEO (the other Onavo-pedigree co-founders are Eran Friedman, Singular’s CTO who had been head of development at Onavo and its third employee, and Susan Kuo, the COO, was head of marketing at inMobi and also SVP at Onavo), tells me that while there have been other companies out there offering cross-platform mobile analytics (Grow Mobile, acquired by Perion the other week, is one example), Singular is different.
“I think that the term mobile marketing platform is a bit wrongly used today by a set of solutions that have the appearance of a software platform, but are in fact a fully managed marketing service beyond the scenes, and are human powered. At Singular, our view of a mobile marketing platform is a technological solution that is fully automatic, does not require any manual operations, and enables the clients to operate on a SaaS basis,” he says.
It also comes at a time of evolution in the app industry. “One of the trends that is extremely developed today, and wasn’t quite there when we started with Onavo, is the understanding that you can, and need to, keep track of the results as they directly correlate to your spend,” he says. “Using this ROI-based view, you can truly optimize and scale your business with marketing.”
For example, he points out, in the past it was mostly about driving installs and generating app downloads. Today it’s about driving quality installs or mobile web visitors if you’re a web app.
The questions now are not the number of installs, but how used those apps are once they have been downloaded. “The more granular you can analyze your ROI, the better you’ll be able to segment and optimize by specific countries, genders, ages, time of day, creative types, specific publishers, and a ton of other variables,” he says.
In their work at Onavo and inMobi (Susan Kuo, the COO, was head of marketing at inMobi), he says they were “shocked” to realize how nontechnical a lot of mobile marketing actually is today. “The core reasons are the extreme fragmentation of the mobile ecosystem, whether it’s types of devices, ad networks, ad formats and even the different tracking technologies, and the fact that the overall technologies around the mobile marketing space are still very immature and require a great deal of manual work”
Take the basic question, “How much am I spending on each channel, and what are the results that I’m getting for my money?” he says. “It requires hours on hours of manual data collection, and the end result is ridiculously non-granular. If you want to go deeper into that data and you must, it’s close to impossible to achieve manually, and in some cases you must write code to assemble and extrapolate that data!”
Singular is therefore attempting to tackle the issue with technology. “We collect and prepare the data in such a way that they can actually understand the numbers and answer marketing questions immediately.”
Elishayov says he and his Onavo alums all left the company prior to the Facebook acquisition after they had all caught the startup/entrepreneur bug. “All of us have always been passionate about becoming founders and starting our own companies, and when we got together after Onavo, we’ve leveraged our experience and analyzed pain points across a few markets, and interestingly enough we all came to this idea of providing better tools for mobile marketers, from a few different angles,” he says.