$25 Million In Cash For Mobile Ad Exchange Smaato

SmaatoAfter a $25 million Series E injection, mobile ad exchange Smaato — a play on the word “smart” in Japanese — plans to focus on mobile acquisition and building out the self-service side of its automation platform.

Smaato began rolling out its self-serve functionality about a year and a half ago.

“Too many players are managed, but that’s not the right thing for RTB,” said Smaato’s chief strategy officer, Ajitpal Pannu. “The focus for our future is self-service.”

The new money comes courtesy of several investors, including Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., Aeris Capital and EDBI. Although he wouldn’t share an exact number, Pannu said that the company’s ballpark revenue is about $100 million.

In addition to platform development, Smaato will also use the money to grow its business team and make inroads into APAC. Smaato recently entered into a strategic agreement with Indosat, one of the biggest telcos in Indonesia, to help the carrier monetize its inventory.

“Indonesia is one of the largest markets in APAC and there is tremendous spend coming from global brands leveraging US-based demand partners to buy inventory there,” said Pannu. “Our partnership with Indosat is about helping it take advantage of its own records and bring local dollars into a programmatic environment.”

Smaato, which runs both a mobile RTB exchange and an SSP, is connected to roughly 78,000 mobile app developers and mobile publishers. Although the majority of its inventory is app-related, it also has a presence on mobile web. The platform, which maintains relationships with about 100 ad networks and 270 DSPs, processes between 90 billion and 100 billion monthly impressions. Pannu said Smaato will have nearly 350 demand sources by the end of Q3.

According to Pannu, Smaato’s last quarterly report noted a 450% increase in mobile ads flowing through its system. In others words, Pannu said, it’s a good time to be in RTB.

“Given mobile is where the audience is spending its time, advertisers are starting to show up quite a bit,” he said. “Eighty-nine out of the top 100 brands [according to Ad Age] are spending on our exchanges. We’re able to see their names and see their ads, and we can also see mobile volume going up and spend going up.”

Pannu said Smaato differentiates itself from the MoPubs and Facebook Audience Networks of the world because it’s an independent exchange that gives publishers full control over the inventory.

“Anytime you talk about Facebook the first thing you have to say is that it’s a pretty big ecosystem within one owned and earned property — and that’s Facebook,” Pannu said. What’s unique about us is that we allow our customers to claim full control over every impression and to define the price.“

When asked whether Smaato will remain independent in the future, Pannu was a mixture of coy and careful.

“We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations come to the table regarding strategic alliances and interest in acquisitions, but right now we’re staying focused on scale,” Pannu said. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing rather than getting distracted by thinking about exit strategies.”

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