Today New York City-based mobile ad management platform MoPub announced that it has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Jafco Ventures, and including a strategic investment from Iris Capital. The company’s existing investors Accel Partners and Harrison Metal Capital also participated in the round, having previously invested seed funding and $6.5 million in funding in July 2011. Currently the MoPub platform serves over 15 billion ads per month across 10,000 apps and 5,000 publishers.
MoPub, which was founded by former AdMob and Google team members in 2010 and was part of startup accelerator AngelPad’s first class, is an ad server and exchange that connects smartphone app publishers with advertising opportunities, through direct advertising, ad networks, or their proprietary MoPub Marketplace, which is akin to a stock exchange for mobile advertising and lets buyers bid on ad impressions in real-time. It helps primarily iOS and Android publishers in categories including media, games, and fitness.
MoPub’s Director of Marketing Elain Szu said the strategic investment from Iris Capital, a European venture capital group which manages Orange and Publicis Group’s joint venture initiative, will help the company build its relationships with agencies and brand partners. “Today our partners in our mobile marketplace product are demand-side platforms…and what these guys do is their relationships are more directly tied to agencies and brand advertisers, and that’s their customer base,” Szu said, adding that they don’t work with them directly today. But with those advertisers and agencies looking more and more to mobile, Szu said they see an opportunity to build more tools within their portfolio for the agency and demand side, and ultimately to help facilitate those relationships.
MoPub brought on former Razorfish exec Paul Gelb as its head of strategy last week, and Szu said that hire will be key when it comes to strengthening their agency and brand relations. Szu also said the funding will be used for hiring and international expansion. Right now the company has offices in San Francisco and New York City, and they’re planning to expand operations in the UK, the rest of Europe, and Asia. “What we don’t have right now is really an international presence on the ground to service those publishers,” Szu said. “We anticipate that sometime late next year we’ll be able to tap into these key international markets, both in terms of our business internally, but also in terms of actually putting people on the ground.”
The company works with small publishers all the way up to large enterprise-level clients like Flixster and CrowdStar, and operates on a freemium model allowing publishers with under 10 million monthly impressions to integrate and use the product for free, while premium publishers can get access to devoted account service reps, other other premium features.
The company competes with ad platforms like Nexage, AppNexus, Mobclix, AdMarvel, and Google’s DoubleClick, though Szu said they’re trying to provide a one-stop platform for app publishers, and they also focus exclusively on smartphones, not feature phones. “There’s not really any player that’s doing all of them very well,” Szu said. “It’s the flexibility to tier within their products.”
With Gelb on board to head up demand-side relationships, the strategic investment from Iris Capital, and the new injection of funding, not to mention a founding team with backgrounds at Google and AdMob, MoPub is well-positioned to be one of the leading players in the mobile advertising space. With the company reporting that mobile ad spend is expected reach $7.1 billion by 2015, building a global presence now with publishers, brands and agencies will ultimately mean they get a bigger piece of that pie.