Ground Truth Emerges from Stealth, Provides New Window Into Mobile Internet Usage

It’s been hard to keep a company like Ground Truth under wraps for this long. The secretive Seattle startup, led by prominent entrepreneurs Sterling Wilson and Michael “Luni” Libes, is emerging from stealth mode today, after raising $2.6 million in venture funding from Voyager Capital and Steamboat Ventures last summer. Although many in the startup community already know (or think they know) what Ground Truth is building, the company has just released some interesting details—while withholding many others.

The problem Ground Truth is solving is a big one. Everyone from marketers to media companies to wireless carriers wants information about things like how many mobile users are accessing which websites on their smartphones. The mobile Web has long been considered the next frontier for advertising and publishing, but nobody has had access to reliable and complete data on mobile users’ behavior. That’s because measurement methods from companies like comScore, Nielsen, Hitwise, and Google, while useful for the traditional Web, are limited for the mobile Web in terms of their scope, detail, and timeliness.

“The market needs a precise map of the landscape and a reliable route to navigate, and Ground Truth’s reliable, actionable data provides it,” said Wilson, the company’s CEO (and former president of Seattle mobile commerce firm Qpass), in a statement.

“The only data source that can provide precise measures of mobile media usage is the mobile network itself,” added Libes, Ground Truth’s founder and chief technology officer, also in a statement. Libes started building the patent-pending technology while at the mobile search firm he previously co-founded, Medio Systems.

Using extensive data from mobile operators and other providers, Ground Truth has analyzed the weekly mobile Internet usage of 2.5 million subscribers in the U.S. It has what it thinks is the most accurate and complete dataset so far on mobile Web use—including mobile traffic estimates for a large number of sites (unique visitors, pageviews), length of browsing sessions, and where a given site’s traffic comes from and where else it goes. In doing so, the company apparently has solved some difficult technical problems while keeping individual mobile subscribers’ privacy intact.

Ground Truth’s timing certainly seems good. The field of mobile Web metrics looks wide open, even as more and more people use their iPhones, BlackBerries, and other mobile devices to access the Internet. And with giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, AT&T, and Verizon (just to name a few) increasing their focus on mobile content and advertising, a company that makes tools that help … Next Page »

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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