Dev

Mixpanel now lets apps target you — yeah, YOU — on a deeply personal level

mixpanel

Mixpanel is known in startup circles for providing top-notch analytics for apps and budding businesses. Today, the Y Combinator-incubated company is launching the ability to find and target (and market to) individual end users.

“We’ve always tracked engagement — likes comments, file uploads,” said Mixpanel founder Suhail Doshi in a phone conversation with VentureBeat last week. “The next leap we’re taking is being able to tie data to an actual user… like experience points, the billing plan they’re on, the apps they use,” he said.

“It allows us to turn really hard questions into something really simple to answer.”

The kind of data Doshi is talking about is great for apps and would make finding new users and keeping the ones you’ve got a whole lot easier.

Mixpanel allows smaller applications “to analyze all their users … to see exactly who they are,” Doshi said. Likewise, it allows apps that already have huge audiences with tens of millions of users to target people with similar profiles.

For example, you could use Mixpanel to better understand your “whales,” those Scoblesque power users who themselves take up entire servers with huge volumes of activity and content. Overall, the service lets you gather “at a micro level as well as a very high level… really rich information”, said Doshi.

“For example, you can target users that are local to San Francisco that are incredibly loyal customers of your product. You can target a promotion to them… We think that will really amplify the growth of the company.”

Of course, being targeted that specifically might get on some consumers’ nerves, as a string of privacy- and advertising-related lawsuits over the past few years will attest (Beacon, anybody?).

But Doshi said Mixpanel is only crunching numbers on data the company already owns (terms of service, anybody?).

“Our customers already have this data,” he said. “Johnny User is already giving this information out anyway… The companies are already trying to do data analysis, trying to make the product better. But Johnny doesn’t understand that this data might be shipped out.”

However, Doshi noted, “That data is owned by the customer; we don’t do anything with it, and we don’t share it with any other company in the world.”

I asked Doshi if the new, improved Mixpanel might be leaning toward over-analysis — after all, being able to pinpoint a single user for a micro-targeted promotion is a bit much when contrasted with the spray-and-pray methods of traditional (and traditional online and mobile) advertising.

“There’s definitely situations where you might over-analyze it,” he said.

“Our goal is to provide an idea of what you could do to grow your business. The data isn’t a hard and fast rule about what products to kill, what products to build — it’s just a direction you could take your company in. It guides you… The rest is intuition.”

You can check out Mixpanel’s new features now on the company’s page explaining the people-targeting features.


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