TapFwd Raises $3 Million, Rolls Out Mobile Data Marketplace

tapfwdTapFwd, a mobile data marketplace founded by two LiveRamp vets, raised a $3 million seed round led by Partech Ventures.

TapFwd matches online and offline data sets to mobile device IDs and then sells these data sets to help advertisers target campaigns. The rough analogy is “a BlueKai built from the ground up for mobile,” said TapFwd CEO Alex Wasserman.

By including data that marketers want to use for targeting, such as automotive, financial, purchase history and demographic data sets, TapFwd plans to accelerate the use of mobile as a platform for brand advertising, not just performance advertising.

“Person-level targeting in desktop has been around for awhile, but on mobile it hasn’t been around except for Facebook,” Wasserman said.

Wasserman and co-founder and CTO Eddie Siegel worked at LiveRamp together and spotted an opportunity to bring third-party data to mobile device IDs two years ago. The seven-person TapFwd built out the tech to support that vision, including a data management platform to house the data as well as tech that matches the data to device IDs.

The company initially offered its mobile data to ad networks, which are eager to reel in brand dollars. It will soon expand its pitch to other parties, including marketers and DSPs. TapFwd pays its data providers using revenue sharing.

TapFwd’s business model is markedly different from traditional ad tech in a couple of ways.

First, it charges a SaaS fee for the data, consistent with shifting winds among investors and advertisers that favor SaaS models. “The traditional CPM data model doesn’t back out well on mobile,” Wasserman said. Second, TapFwd doesn’t bundle the sale of data with media. “We ran a little bit of media in the beginning, and realized that our value is on the data side,” Wasserman said. “The ecosystem did not need another media platform.”

Going forward, TapFwd wants to help marketers onboard their first-party data and match it to mobile device IDs.

“Onboarding onto device IDs is very different, and it’s not done that well,” he said of the technology challenge ahead.

The funding will support the hire of a salesperson and two more engineers.

Besides Partech Ventures, the company’s angel investors include AdRoll founder Jared Kopf, LiveRamp founder Auren Hoffman, Metamarkets founder Mike Driscoll, Canvas Ventures’ Ben Narasin and Moat founder Jonah Goodhart.

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