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4INFO raises $8M to solve ‘No. 1 problem’ with mobile ads (exclusive)

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4INFO has raised $8 million to solve one of the biggest challenges in mobile advertising.

“The No. 1 problem on mobile is the inability to accurately measure return-on-investment beyond a click rate,” CEO Tim Jenkins said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Mobile has a problem that online display does not — there is no mobile cookie. And without a cookie, there is not a consistent or persistent way to track that device or tie it back to something that is measurable, up until now.”

Jenkins said that the real place to measure the sales lift from mobile advertising is at the cash register. 4INFO partners with “big data” providers to collect information about consumers and then matches each mobile device to an individual household. Its flagship AdHaven Bullseye platform leverages existing information about that household, along with data from the mobile device, to create a more comprehensive profile of that customer and serve more targeted ads.

“Most targeting on mobile is around probabilistic modeling, by looking at signals around applications, the type of device, where that device may be, to guess who a person is,” Jenkins said. “Mobile devices are the most personal advertising medium ever in the business. They are with consumers 24/7. 4INFO analyzes billions and billions of ad requests to target households that are representative of a brands loyal customers.”

This approach has yielded ROI as high as 400 percent, according to the company, and campaign results show 99 percent accuracy. 4INFO currently reaches 152 million mobile devices and consumers within 101 million households. The company works with data providers, inventory exchanges, agencies, and brands, including Ford, Universal Pictures, KFC, and Proctor & Gamble as well as publishers including Gannet, CBS, and Yahoo.

4INFO started out as a SMS publishing company in 2004, and according to Nielsen, it was sending more text messages in the U.S. by volume than any other provider. However, with the recession deepening and new mobile platforms emerging, 4INFO switched to the mobile advertising arena in 2010 and has since made the full transition. This was a smart move, considering the incredible growth of the mobile advertising industry. Hundreds of vendors work in this complex landscape and take a myriad of approaches, but ad platforms, big data companies, and brands alike are still trying to figure out the most effective ways to target and engage consumers.

Jenkins said 4INFO’s unique approach is including information about households in the targeting process, and its intense focus on measurement. Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital led this round of financing, along with existing investors Draper Fisher Jurveston, Gannet, Mezzanine Capital, and U.S. Venture Partners. The San Mateo company has raised $64.3 million to date.

To learn more about the major players in mobile advertising, check out VentureBeat’s mobile advertising index. 

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