Drawbridge's “Self-Learning” Ad Technology Targets Consumers Across Devices

Drawbridge founder and CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan is reimagining the way advertisers target consumers.

When Google acquired mobile advertising network AdMob back in 2009, Sivaramakrishnan, the company’s lead applied research scientist, went along with it. But six months after starting work at Google, she decided to strike out on her on in the mobile ad space. “I was thinking about how far Google was in the process, and it gave me enough confidence that there is enough room for innovation in this marketplace, in the mobile advertising economy, outside of Google,” Sivaramakrishnan says.

As mobile device use exploded, the need for a more targeted and better method of delivering mobile ads had become really obvious.

“[Advertising] was so constrained on mobile devices before the advent of smartphones,” she says. “It was a grand guessing game. That is still the case on many of legacy ad networks today. Now mobile has become front and center as a media consumption device, and it’s time for next generation of ad solutions to come in.”

In October of 2010, she founded her own company, then called Adsymptotic, to take on the mobile ads space, later changing the name to the more colloquial Drawbridge.

Drawbridge is working on new ad strategies, not just for mobile, but for all devices. Instead of focusing on delivering more targeted ads to mobile customers, the company has found a way to track users across all devices, so that a given advertiser could target a consumer not just on a smartphone, but also across his or her other devices, like laptops, desktops, and tablets.

“As the user goes across these devices, the adverting doesn’t follow,” she says. “That’s the mission and business that Drawbridge is going after.”

It means that instead of being able to draw data from just one device, Drawbridge can figure out that a person on a given smartphone is the same as a user on a laptop and a particular tablet, so that if he searches for a certain flight on his computer, an ad for cheap airfare might show up on his smartphone.

“The data you gather is from all devices, and once we connect the user, we have a much better understanding of what the user is about, “ she says.

In theory, a more complete picture of a particular consumers means better targeted ads.

For IP reasons, Sivaramakrishnan declines to go into the specifics of how exactly the process works, but says that the startup uses “algorithms and scientific techniques as part of our core technology. The more and more observations we make from users on different devices, the better we are able to tie them across. At some point we get confident enough that these two activity streams belong to this [same] user,” she says.

Drawbridge is currently in closed beta testing, but the company already has paying customers and … Next Page »

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