App Monetization Player, Metaps, Grabs $36M To Push Deeper Into Big Data

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Japanese company Metaps, which in recent times has sold services to Android developers to monetize their apps — offering an SDK that let app makers quickly incorporate in-app offers to increase user engagement and revenues — has pulled in a $36 million Series C round of financing from existing and new investors in Japan. The business has now raised a total of $51.2 million to date.

Investors in the latest round are not being disclosed at this point but two years ago its $11 million Series B included investment from Fidelity Growth Partners Japan. The company has also previously partnered with social messaging platform Line as part of the latter’s virtual currency push, with Line Coin.

While Metaps’ initial focus was on app monetization, the company now touts itself as a big data and machine-learning play — detecting patterns of user behavior to optimize and automate app marketing. It says it plans to use some of its new financing to aggressively hire addition AI expertise to continue building this out.

It said today:

Metaps will continue to advance automation and increase efficiencies across all types of businesses utilizing “big data” accumulated over time. This will be accomplished with data analysis, pattern recognition, future forecasting and by improving the accuracy of automated processes by the Metaps’ AI system. For these purposes, funding will be used towards aggressive hiring of experts in the field, and investing in necessary research.

The company has also previously launched a PayPal-type competitor, called Spike, which is transaction fee-free and aims to be less cumbersome than the more established online payment rival. Building out its financial services operations is another of Metaps’ priorities for its new financing, it said today — including expanding Spike beyond online payments to “become an all-encompassing financial service”.

The Spike service was beta launched in March last year, and has been operating in open beta for the past eight months. So far it has more than 50,000 registered users in Japan.

Metaps’ grand aim is to widen its analytics services from apps to “all types of businesses utilizing big data accumulated over time”, and to broaden beyond just smartphones to all “smart devices” — so becoming a multifaceted analytics-driven business solutions provider. Bottom line: it thinks app user behavior learnings, gleaned from marketing interactions, can be applied far beyond apps.

“We have a vision to analyze all forms of data available worldwide to offer total support of corporate monetization, not exclusive to app data. What do you need to do to get your users to spend their money? We will refine our data analysis technology to more precisely answer this business dilemma,” Metaps CEO Katsuaki Sato told TechCrunch.

“We will expand our gaming, ecommerce and media customer base to other hardware/OS developers for smartphones, tablets, wearables and robots. Our vision to is to eventually provide support to the individual/corporate decision making to answer the question of ‘what should we do next?’. This may eventually place us in competition with the likes of a company like IBM in the future.”

“We originally started off as an ad network for apps, but as we began to recognize patterns of activity through analyzing the data generated by the operation of our services, we were able to formulate and utilize algorithms to improve the sales of our client partners,” he added.

“With our Series B round of financing, we shifted our focus to data analysis and expanded the scope of our coverage beyond analysis of user activity to App Store/Google Play market data and purchase history data. This is how we transformed our operations to aggressively invest in artificial intelligence technology such as data mining and machine learning.”

Katsuaki says Metaps currently has “thousands” of app developer customers, on Android and iOS, using its services to track where users are coming from; what app content they are viewing/using; how much money they are using and where; and to target ads towards groups of users who are demonstrating similar patterns.

It says its reach — via app developers integrating its SDK — now expands to more than 100 million users, and includes apps that have been downloaded more than 1.2 billion times in total. In other words, a whole lot of data points for Metaps’ business to tap into.