In an Effort to Woo Brands, Verve Mobile Launches Audience Solution

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verve logoFresh off raising $14 million in new funding, Verve Mobile has launched a PlaceIQ-like audience-targeting tool called Place Insights in an effort to bring more brand dollars into the mobile-local fray. The solution allows advertisers to use location data to reach specific audiences – say, middle-aged moms or travelers – with a higher-funnel branding message, rather than the lower funnel “call-to-location” messaging endemic of traditional geo-fencing campaigns.

Here’s how it works. Verve has divided the world into a hexagonal gird and associated demographic, transactional, commercial and other types of data with each grid. If a car company, for example, wants to reach high-earners who recently bought a Lexus, Verve can target mobile impressions located within the hexagons that fit the profile.

But a brand can also target against a user’s historical location as well.  By monitoring the impressions that run through its network, Verve can pick up on recurring device IDs, which mobile operating systems like Apple attach to most impressions, and begin to build a location profile for each device. If Verve sees device XYZ visit a grid that indexes high for parents of young children, it can serve an ad for diapers to that user whenever an impression from device ID XYZ surfaces in its network.

“[Place Insights] is sort of a combination of location context (e.g. PlaceIQ, Sense Networks and Factual) and location audience (JiWire) targeting,” said Tom MacIsaac, CEO at Verve, in an email to Street Fight yesterday. “We’ll continue to work with PlaceIQ and all our other data partners since our goal is to give marketers a broad array of location powered solutions and find what works best for them.”

Verve is one of handful of mobile display players that integrate PlaceIQ’s audience solution, but it’s the first partner to build its own product. However, we may see more mobile ad-tech companies look in-house, as data and targeting become key points of differentiation in the space. And given the accumulative nature of device-level targeting (e.g. reach grows with time), it’s hard to see mobile ad tech leaving the meat of a key competitive asset to a partner.

One way or another, the story here is also the growth of device-level targeting. Apple opened the doors with the introduction of its Apple Advertiser ID in iOS 6, and companies like Sense Networks, JiWire, and now Verve have picked up on the opportunity. It’s hugely important for the hyperlocal ecosystem because it allows marketers to target against users’ past, as well as current, locations, expanding their reach and making hyperlocal targeting a viable option for brands.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.