Todacell Helps Brands Curate Mobile Ads, Helps Itself to More Cash

6/27/12Follow @jpruth

As the advertising industry marches deeper into the wireless frontier, getting the most out of mobile devices becomes more crucial for marketers. New York-based Todacell has developed an ad network platform that can help marketers pick the right mobile ads to catch the attention of individual consumers, no matter what smartphone or tablet they are using.

Todacell, which was founded in Israel in 2007, raised $2 million last week from AfterDox, an angel investment group, and other private investors, bringing total funding to $4.35 million. The company is also making money on its own. CEO Mark Lehmann says Todacell will generate about $400,000 in revenue in June, compared with $100,000 last December.

Todacell’s technology lets advertisers and publishers manage their inventory of mobile ads, and see details on how individuals interact with those ads. The software can track such publicly available information as the time of day and consumers’ locations when they accessed the ads—as well as the types of mobile devices used. That overall goal is to offer marketers a clearer picture of who responds to their messages.

The platform can also be used to track specific demographics of consumers that marketers want to reach. Based on such data, ads can be automatically targeted to reach to consumers through their mobile devices, with the expectation they will be more receptive to the curated messages.

Lehmann would not identify the ad publishers his company works with, but he says Todacell works with brands and ad publishers who want a tailored way to deliver their mobile marketing messages to consumers. “We take attributes such as location targeting and device targeting and do analysis on that,” he says.

By customizing the types of ads the public receives, Lehmann believes he can make the mobile medium more efficient and encourage brands to spend more marketing dollars in this sector. “Some companies are still just dipping their toes in the water when it comes to mobile,” he says.

While Todacell’s objective is to put its customers’ marketing messages in front of mobile phone users, Lehmann says he believes mobile ads also can create new revenue streams for developers who include marketing in their apps. “It’s a great way to connect with customers and user base,” Lehmann says. “It’s intimate and allows for deeper engagement.”

As mobile advertising gets more personalized, however, some users of mobile devices may not want to be tracked that closely. Lehmann says his company’s platform only uses information that consumers choose to make publicly available, such as their location. Sharing information in this way, he says, can be a benefit to the consumer because it fine-tunes the types of mobile ads they see. Marketers could potentially send ads to consumers for sales and discounts that are local to them, for example.

Prior to joining Todacell as a consultant in 2010 and later elevated to CEO, Lehmann was vice president of web and mobile marketing at Universal Music Group/Island Def Jam. Lehmann says Todacell has a staff of five in New York and about 15 people worldwide. With the latest funding he plans to hire more talent for the technology development team in Israel and for sales in the New York and London offices.

Todacell is raising additional capital, and Lehmann says the company’s revenue also is on the rise. He plans to open a new Todacell office in Berlin and expand the company’s London office. The growth potential for this sector, he says, is just being realized. “You’re going to see a massive increase in mobile advertising; brands just haven’t done it much yet,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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