Personalization for mobile apps is just finding its legs as a marketing technology category, but early indicators are that demand for solutions will grow fast, and there’s a lot of money to be made for those who get it right.

Like all emerging markets, mobile app personalization is a fragmented ecosystem, with entrants ranging from cash-poor but fast-moving startups to well-funded global players with established distribution networks.

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Here’s a look at a few early players in the mobile app personalization space and a couple others who may be in the right position to make a splash.

In play:

Most apps doing any personalization are limited to push notifications sent to specific segments. So far, anyway, relatively few have invested much in mobile app personalization.

The efforts to date are made primarily via tools, in three areas:

App analytics: Liquid is on the map with solutions that will let you target a segment of users with a combination of variables such as buttons, ads and text for “data-driven contextual experiences.” Mixpanel is another analytics platform with a footprint in mobile, but their game plan for the apps part of the equation isn’t yet clear.

Mobile marketing automation techs: Urban Airship (engagement, geolocation, proximity triggers) is in the game. Kahuna is into real-time personalization by leveraging in-app messaging, push notifications, and more. Localytics is part of the conversation as well.

Omnichannel personalization tools: Vendors in this category, such as RichRelevance and SailThru, have personalization tools that they currently offer via SDKs to enable the same technology in mobile apps. Others, like MyBuys and Certona, aren’t really mobile-ready, according to Andrew Jones, analyst at VentureBeat’s research arm VB Insight and author of Marketing Personalization: Maximizing Relevance and Revenue. Jones put it this way: “They’re cross-channel — and offer personalized ads, email, and website — but don’t yet extend to mobile apps.”

Have a piece of the puzzle:

Twine claims it has the “largest, freshest and most accurate database of deterministic mobile device data,” which can be used on any ad network and with any DMP. Combine that with an easy way to use behavioral and psychographic data and you have an intelligence engine that mobile advertisers will love. I’d bet these guys get acquired in the next year or so.

You probably already know Vungle as a video ads platform that works with top DSPs, ad networks, and apps that offers an easy-to-implement SDK. Combine that with a solid story around real-time data and behavioral modeling and Vungle could easily leverage its place in the mobile ecosystem to go deep on in-app video ads personalization.

Amplero, a Globys solution, claims “self-optimizing personalization” powered by machine learning. Its solution for mobile operators uses data integration with your CMS and behavioral analytics from purchase histories to optimize targeting on mobile. That’s a big-data solution for mobile backed by a major player with a proven ability to scale in emerging markets.

Wild cards:

Finally, a couple of could-be contenders in different flavors:

UXPin: If you buy the idea that personalization of mobile apps is about delivering optimized in-context, in-the-moment experiences that are data-driven, then a UX market leader with an integrated platform solution seems like a natural candidate in the mobile app personalization segment, either by UXPin scaling their solution, or as an acquisition target for someone else.

Qualcomm iZat: Qualcomm has already made a serious commitment to location-based tech in the “indoors” segment (read: beacons and Wi-Fi), where a slew of brands are looking for solutions to engage consumers on their smartphones, either via their own apps or through third parties. Someone is going to go big to own this segment of mobile personalization — and Qualcomm has the tech, the money, the footprint, and the partnerships to lead.

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