Mobile data is key to a brand’s marketing and engineering success. To be data-driven in a world where the smartphone is only ever three feet away from the average consumer, 24 hours a day, seven days a week means collecting mobile data above everything.
Today, mParticle — a mobile data platform that allows brands to gather and connect customer information — has announced a Series B funding round of $17.5 million, led by new investor Bain Capital Ventures, along with existing investor Social Capital.
The funds will be used to continue the recent success of the company, which is on track to grow its 2016 revenues 4X over last year.
“The punchline is that we need a little bit of everything,” Michael Katz, cofounder and CEO at mParticle told me. “We need continued research and development, for example. I think we’ve cracked the code on a couple of products we feel will be relatively transformative, but need to get them over the finish line.”
The company is also setting its sights on new pastures.
“The funds will also be used for international expansion,” Katz said. “We have some big clients that are headquartered in various regions outside the U.S., but we don’t have an EMEA office, for example.”
The raise brings mParticle’s total funding to $37 million since its inception, and much has changed in the mobile marketplace during that time.
“The market continues to become more ready and willing to adopt a solution like ours,” Katz said. “We started this in 2013, and we were certainly early to market, but as tools have proliferated and consumers have gone completely mobile, brands have to keep pace with them.”
mParticle collects data from three main areas: the web, native apps, and SaaS tools. Incorporating all of those sources helps the company provide a single source of customer data for its clients.
“Once you have all that data, you can truly understand the consumer and break out of the classic marketing and analytics ceilings,” Katz said.
In conjunction with the raise, mParticle is also announcing the launch of its Profiles API, which allows its clients to query any record in their mParticle account and append that data to any existing system.
“Ultimately, we have a pretty universal source of truth for many brands, because we have a unified look at data across many touchpoints,” Katz said. “We want to make it easy to surface that data and make it actionable, append it to any other data.”
That means the ability to add data from the account to a help desk, analytics system, marketing tool, or any other internal solution.
And as the market continues to invest heavily in new platforms, such as connected TV, mParticle is in a good position to collect and leverage that data, as well, despite the challenges that exist.
Collecting data from connected TV, for example, is different from getting data on a smartphone, which is a personal device. When collecting data from connected TV systems, it is much harder to know who is in front of that shared device. It is a problem Katz is aware of, and one that mParticle is making inroads into understanding.
“Thinking that you can use your legacy web platform to take part in this discussion is a complete non-starter,” Katz said. “The fact that we’re helping brands capture data across all connected devices means that we’re at least building that holistic view. The connected TV is a little different — you get family members that may aggregate around a TV for an event. How do you take that one-to-one data-driven approach and apply it to that situation? I think, to me, it lends another view or dimension to the individual. Eventually, we’ll get to a state where we can break down the family and understand that landscape.”
Ultimately, this funding round is about staying ahead in what Katz calls the “third wave of data platforms.”
The concept of a data platform has been around for a long time — it goes back to the late ’80s,” Katz said. “The second wave was via web data platforms — the DMPs and tag management systems that helped brands adapt to the evolution that was taking place — capturing anonymous data and capturing it in real time. But now we’re in the third wave. It is now about apps across all connected devices. What started in mobile has now extended to your living room, on your wrist, in your car. All of these consumer touchpoints where the experience just doesn’t happen in a browser.”
And that presents new challenges.
“The data challenges are fundamentally different to anything we’ve seen before,” Katz said. “If the web was about ‘real time’, then apps are about ‘all the time’. Even when your phone is just sitting there doing nothing, it is reporting everything. App crashes, device telemetry, multiple identities, app interactions — more data than ever before.”