Drawbridge lands $6.5M round for mobile ad targeting technology

Mobile advertising startup Drawbridge has closed a $6.5 million first round of funding to put toward improving the performance of mobile ads through targeting technology.

The 18-month old startup was founded by former Google and AdMob scientist Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan. Drawbridge’s goal is to shift the focus of mobile targeting from a device-centric model to one based on user behavior across multiple devices. To make this happen, Sivaramakrishnan and her team have created what they call “self-learning ad technology.”

“We crunch vast amounts of anonymous statistical data and determine a likelihood or probability of the user on one device being the same user as we observe on another device,” says Sivaramakrishnan. “Once this probability is high enough we are able to reliably associate them so we can target ads on both devices based on their behavior on both devices.”

The technology also lets Drawbridge skip another mobile advertising issue — unique device IDs (UDIDs). Although a convenient iOS user tracking system, UDIDs open up an array of privacy concerns because they can’t be blocked or opted out of. Apple’s move to phase them out has been hard for advertisers and analytics companies that relied on them because there is no universal alternative yet. Unlike many of its competitors, Drawbridge’s system doesn’t use UDIDs. Instead, it creates cookie-like trackers on mobile that will work across multiple platforms, browsers and apps.

Although Drawbridge’s technology may be more advanced than other solutions in the market, they aren’t the only company trying to improve the way mobile ads can target users. In April, Greystripe and its parent company ValueClick introduced ValueClick Audience Mapping, a service that allows advertisers to use online advertising data to target specific audience segments on mobile devices.

According to Sivaramakrishnan, what makes Drawbridge’s solution better is the way it coordinates advertising as a user moves from their laptop to their tablet to their phone. “Audiences today have multiple touch points across devices and yet they have a personal mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet with them all the time,” she explains.  “We leverage this emerging behavior to enhance and unlock the power of cross-device data to impact ad relevance in mobile in a big way. In other words, it’s more than just mobile behavioral targeting.”

Drawbridge’s solution is currently available for iOS and Android, but will be rolling out to BlackBerry and Windows Phone soon. The service is still in beta, but interested partners can sign up on the Drawbridge website if they wish to join the trial run. The funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.