Button Raises $20 Million To Create More Mobile Commerce Inventory

jaconi-imgThe mobile monetization firm Button announced Wednesday it had raised a $20 million Series B round, led by Norwest Venture Partners.

The investment, which brings Button’s total funding to $36.5 million, will go largely toward expanding Button’s headcount as the startup looks to tack on new products in fledgling verticals like travel booking and media companies.

Button facilitates deep-linking to generate inventory for mobile publishers. For instance, it powers Foursquare’s ability to funnel users to Uber. Button also helps publishers like Huffington Post and Condé Nast Traveler sell deep-link buttons to Jet.com or Hotels.com if that person or piece of content shows any relevant intent.

Norwest’s investment portfolio includes Walmart’s Jet.com (already a Button partner), coupon distribution network RetailMeNot, programmatic travel marketing shop Sojern and the DSP Turn.

“Button’s articulating a new opportunity and monetization unit in the marketplace,” said Jared Hyatt, the firm’s VP of internet and consumer investments, “and what we’re hearing more from our ecommerce and mobile publisher businesses is that mobile commerce, and that direct performance revenue, is an increasingly necessary part of their overall revenue.”

As Button adds more partners, it will have to refine its instant analysis to determines how best to render inventory.

“There’s a big investment in the machine learning behind that product,” said Button co-founder and CEO Michael Jaconi.

Button will also try to fix the “metasearch” process. This issue – a bugbear of the travel vertical – is that users often do multiple searches between looking for a flight or hotel and actually booking, which can lead to lost buyers or rival services poaching the customer.

Button also plans to begin working on auction dynamics so partners in its marketplace don’t need to hammer out integrations and could supplement performance commissions with revenue from inventory or user bids among Button’s network.

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