Cross-Device Opportunities On The Other Side Of The Pond

DrawbridgeEuropeDrawbridge sees itself as the democratizer of cross-device identity.

“We’re the folks that provide cross-device connectivity for inventory that isn’t on Facebook and we do it without PII,” said Nimeshh Patel, Drawbridge’s VP of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., Drawbridge – whose technology analyzes various non-personally identifiable data points, like operating system, device type and location info pulled from ad requests to create a probabilistic match between devices – opened an office in the UK in December 2013. According to Drawbridge UK managing director Mark Wright, the business started to scale around March and April of this year. The team now includes two senior salespeople and a senior accounts director.

“We’re getting traction from a platform-oriented perspective,” Wright said. “We do more platform type deals versus traditional IO deals here versus in the US. This market is perhaps a bit more advanced in terms of that area and we had to cater to the market.”

Although there are some brand direct deals in the works, Drawbridge often goes through the agency door in Europe. The company has relationships with Starcom MediaVest, Mediacom – both in London and globally – Somo and Aegis-owned Amnet Group.

The cross-device opportunity in Europe is ripe, Patel said, who claimed that Drawbridge is able to target roughly 1 billion users and 3 billion devices globally. The next step is opening it up even further.

“We see a roadmap around intent data and connecting offline to online,” Patel said. “We’ve even enabled some connected TV inventory suppliers in the ecosystem. We have deals and we’re starting to deliver against them.”

Patel declined to name which companies Drawbridge is working with on the connected TV piece.

Drawbridge is backed by Sequoia, Northgate Capital and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. The company has raised roughly $20.5 million in two rounds of funding, the most recent of which was a Series B.

AdExchanger chatted with Patel and Wright.

AdExchanger: How is Drawbridge approaching Europe?

NIMESHH PATEL: Drawbridge sells cross-device campaigns to extend targeting from desktop to mobile.

Our go-to-market strategy for Drawbridge in Europe has been to work on a management service basis, but now we’re beginning to drive traction with our platform business, rather than operate on a traditional, more ad network-like model.

Do you also work brand direct, or are most of your clients on the agency side?

NP: Our mode of operation is not to go direct, but to go through an agency, though in the US, it’s a bit of both. In Europe, agencies have considerably more traction. Some of the verticals working best for us right now are retail, travel and technology.

MARK WRIGHT: Travel is huge because people are doing more research on their phones before switching to their desktop to make a purchase. We see this as quite significant because marketers are still reluctant to spend on mobile. They feel like they can’t show worthwhile ROI for those campaigns, but we can see across those different devices and attribute the sales.

Speaking of attribution, you launched an analytics feature in September. What’s next?

NP: We’ll be building out our data and insights product to allow brands to see cross-device attribution across 100% of their media spend. More and more agencies are developing their own in-house mobile teams. In the UK and Europe, especially, we’re beginning to see mobile treated as a vital component that can’t be ignored, which means mobile needs to be truly accountable.

The desktop impression is really intelligent in terms of data attribution, it’s true, but mobile impressions have location. By porting mobile data attributes to desktop and desktop data attribution to mobile, it gives you greater choice regarding how you want to target a certain user in the cross-device ecosystem.

Who are your data partners?

NP: Each local market in Europe is nuanced. Drawbridge has integrations with all of the major data management platforms predominantly in the US. We’re on the hunt for DMPs that have scale in Europe. In Europe, brands often don’t have a DMP of choice as they do in the US. As we start to work with more brands, we’re getting requests to integrate their personal data partners into our platform. As we ink platform deals, we’re getting a laundry list of folks that they’d like us to connect with.

You have a close relationship with Starcom MediaVest in the UK. How do you guys work together?

NP: We work across a number of their brands. The key thing for them is the ability to begin strategizing and getting insights around cross-device attribution for their performance partners, as well as the ability to do location-based targeting.

Agencies, and particularly the mobile teams within agencies, are quickly realizing how important it is to drive accountability in mobile. We’re working closely with those teams to flesh out the whole path to purchase piece.

MW: When you’re part of a mobile team in an agency, you’re beaten with a big stick by the client, who says, “We spent this much, but you’re not showing us great results in the backend.” That’s why attribution is so important.

What kind of cross-device trends are you seeing in Europe and how do they compare to what you see in the US?

NP: We don’t see massive differentials between the two, although smartphone penetration in the Nordics has always been very high. The rest of Europe and the US is catching up to that.

In terms of the number of devices and second screen behavior, it’s fairly similar. If you talk to any major publisher, mobile is becoming a significant portion of consumption in Europe, as it in the US, and, in turn, the methodology we use to track that doesn’t change much. However, there’s not much else to say in the way of generics, because each local market is nuanced.

What are some particular challenges in Europe?

NP: The UK, France and Germany are roughly similar in terms of size and spend, but let’s talk about the UK market, specifically, which is effectively one-seventh the size of the US. That means that when you go out to build and sell campaigns, the deals are going to be much smaller. There are far more particular local markets in Europe versus in the US.

How do you handle a country like Germany which has such strict privacy regulations?

MW: We pride ourselves on being able to take the moral high ground when it comes to privacy. We don’t use logged in data, only anonymous data, to build our device graph. And through relationships with companies like TRUSTe, when a person opts out of a Drawbridge ad, we make sure that the user is also opted out across all the devices associated with that ID on our graph.

The deterministic guys might have trouble in Germany, but they do have some valuable data. How do you approach them?

NP: They operate in walled gardens right now. Facebook has made great advances in mobile – everyone knows that – but we see ourselves as a democratizer of cross-device identity for everyone outside of Facebook and Google, although Google isn’t out in market yet.

But you’re not the only probabilistic player out there. How do you view the competition, Tapad in particular?

NP: I wouldn’t say that Tapad is our main, or our only, competition. The deterministic players like Facebook and Google have a huge graph, but we have a strong pedigree on mobile sites. Our competition is against them, Tapad, perhaps, and a whole raft of other competitors who claim cross-device.

The competitive density of the entire ad tech landscape is very high. That’s why it’s incumbent on us to not just do what our competitors do, but to innovate products and stay ahead of the curve.

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