Get Ready for Ads that Follow You from One Device to the Next
Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan calls herself an “advertising quant.” Most people with a PhD in her field of information theory are recruited onto Wall Street if they decide to leave the halls of academia, she says.
She chose to go into advertising instead, and, with her startup, Drawbridge, is applying her expertise to a problem central to the bottom line of a wide swath of digital companies: how to make advertising pay as audiences move over to mobile devices. Founded in 2010, Drawbridge is using statistical methods that rely on anonymous data to track people as they move between their smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
The company’s technology has attracted attention both because of its high-profile backers—Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, two top Silicon Valley funders, have invested $6.5 million—and because it claims its approach will protect an individual’s privacy while also filling an important gap in the still-nascent mobile advertising technology market.
“Retargeting is a powerful strategy on the Web, and we are bridging that to mobile devices as well,” Sivaramakrishnan says. For example, Drawbridge might know that I visited a retailer’s site on my home computer, and show me an advertisement on my smartphone at work the next day. Drawbridge says it has matched more than 200 million devices so far to create anonymous user profiles. These profiles, Sivaramakrishnan says, allow it to buy ads for customers such as travel websites and online retailers and improve their investment return by two to three times. The company is also using these methods to help mobile app makers recruit users who are more likely to stick with their software.
Today, a number of startups are working on improved tracking of people tied to particular devices, and, as Drawbridge is now doing, across different computers they regularly use.