No one accesses online on any one device anymore- or any one type of screen. So how do you keep up with it all, and follow a consumer’s habits and preferences, when they can be on any device at any time.
That has always been Tapad’s special sauce. Which is why they’re the leader in cross-device content delivery. Their proprietary technology – The Device Graph™ – assimilates billions of data points to find the human relationship between smartphones, desktops, laptops, tablets, connected TVs and game consoles – and whatever other screen may come along. And by focusing on the user rather than the device, they’ve gotten human behavior down – and know precisely how to reach the right person on the right screen at the right time. Which is gold for publishers and advertisers and just another reason why they just closed their latest round of funding.
Founder and CEO Are Traasdahl talks about the funding – and what the company is planning to roll out next.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
This was a Series B-2 funding round for $18.5 million.
Our investors include Firstmark Capital, the publicly-traded Firsthand Technology Value Fund, Inc. (NASDAQ:SVVC), Blue Cloud Ventures, Avalon Ventures, G&H Partners,Knight Enterprise Fund, LLC, Silicon Valley Bank and Zanadu Capital Partners LP.
Tell us about your service.
Tapad is the first to market with a unified cross-screen solution. We created a proprietary technology, The Device Graph™, which analyzes trillions of data points per month to determine if multiple devices are related to one another—meaning they belong to the same person.
This technology is used in our Demand Side Platform to serve cross-device advertising campaigns. We also license The Device Graph to enable other leading technology companies to provide cross-device solutions. Current licensing partners include Datalogix (Oracle), Magnetic and eXelate (Nielsen), among others.
What inspired you to start the company?
I was looking for three things: a problem that was very difficult to solve, scalable, and potentially profitable. Around 2009 – 2010, it was already clear that there was an increasing number of devices on multiple platforms, and there was no way for any of these devices to connect to one another, even when shared by the same user. It was a problem in need of a solution for marketers, content-providers – and definitely, users. Varying platforms increased the complexity of solving the challenge in a privacy-safe way. I was fortunate to have a really skilled CTO and Cofounder, and we both had a lot of confidence that we could build a team that could crack-the-code.
How is it different?
Tapad was the first to market in this space, launching more than four years ago. We didn’t start as a mobile or a display company—we started as a company dedicated to delivering a unified, cross-device solution.
Our focus on building and evolving The Device Graph is a huge differentiator for us and it’s paid off.
Tell us about some of the new services you’re announcing.
We’re currently working on big push into linear TV measurement as it relates to cross-device advertising. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about it now, but stay tuned for future news. It’s a significant and much-needed advancement.
Which screens are getting the most eyeballs – and advertisers – these days?
Ah yes, the million-dollar question—which screen is getting the most eyeballs?
We actually don’t see one screen as superior to another. Instead of thinking of the ‘screen,’ we think of the overall user experience. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops etc., are all important in the marketing mix, but only as part of a bigger experience. A unified campaign involves multiple devices and multiple content channels – each playing to their own strength in terms of content and messaging.
Our most successful advertisers are the ones that see each screen as a tactic—not as an individual strategy. Instead of looking at ‘mobile,’ they are looking at their consumer and trying to enrich their brand experience, wherever that may be.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
We serve two big customer segments at Tapad: Marketers (agencies or brand direct) and technology vendors.
Cross-device has only come to market in the last four years, which means there are still huge opportunities for business growth.
What’s your business model?
Our business model is broken into two big segments: Media and Data.
On the media side of the house, we serve cross-device advertising campaigns for hundreds of the top global advertisers. We also build custom creative in-house, a relatively new team that is innovating new formats and delivering notable results for clients.
On the data side of the house, we license The Device Graph to other marketing tech companies looking to offer a cross-screen solution. Our technology integrates with data management platforms, real time bidding solutions, attribution companies and so on.
What was the funding process like?
At this stage, the funding happens fairly organically. Now, we rely more on our proven track record than anything else. As industry leaders, many folks come to us, which is a nice position to be in.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
It’s important to be selective about who you decide to work with. It’s important that they understand your industry and your vision and really get your potential.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
It’s always about the bottom line. First, we cracked-the-code on a very important technology, and every day since, we have to deliver against that promise with results for clients and partners. Our growth and continued success year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter is strong evidence that we are on to something.
Human capital is a big deal here, too – we’ve built an A-list team of engineers, data scientists and professionals who do extraordinary work, day-in-day-out. Investors care that you get that right.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our upcoming product release for linear TV measurement will be a big milestone for us. We’re looking forward to getting that off the ground and into the market.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep your nose to the grindstone. If you have the right talent and the right idea, then stay focused, work hard and tune out any naysayers.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We will continue to earn our position as leaders in cross-device, continuing to innovate within our core technology. By continuing to get that right, both our Media and Data business will continue to flourish.
Which is your favorite NY area beach?
I like New York for the city. Miami for the beach.