The movement toward real-time bidding based on targeted data led OwnerIQ to recently close a $7 million expansion round of VC financing backed by several investors.
In what might be called Series B funding, Longworth Venture Partners joins existing investors Kepha Partners, Atlas Venture, Common Angels, and Egan-Managed Capital & Massachusetts Technology Development.
Jay Habegger, OwnerIQ CEO and co-founder, describes the company as bringing one-to-one direct ad targeting to the display space through real-time media buying and integration of data from offline influences.
The company was founded in 2006, and Habegger admits to underestimating what it would take to make the concept work.
"The industry still has a way to go to deliver on the promise of data targeting," he said.
Still, OwnerIQ has managed to grow 700% from May 2010 through May 2011, a milestone that attracted Eric Hjerpe, partner at Kepha Partners, to make another investment in the company. "The company offers proprietary data that has been shown in ads to increase performance by a great amount," he said. "They also continue to resign a number of existing clients because of that ad performance."
One of those clients, Kicker, sells audio equipment. OwnerIQ relies on something it calls "ownership signals" that suggest the person browsing on the Web or a company's Web site probably owns a particular product. For example, when someone searches for a "Kicker SubStation power sub user manual "the platform infers the searcher must own a Sony Kicker SubStation power subwoofer. So a cookie gets dropped into the browser identifying the user as owning that specific product.
The platform also gathers data along the online path to purchase, such as opinion and review, as well as product recycling and support sites.
Precisely targeting ads to groups of online consumers takes work. "There's no subtleties for in-market precise targeting online, but in the real physical world we recognize all sorts around people in market such as top and bottom of the funnel," he said. "Today, with data, we don't recognize that. The industry seems to lump everyone into one bucket."
OwnerIQ plans to bring more subtleties to how audiences get defined. Look for broad-bush data signals to become more refine. It will help advertisers tune their message depending on where consumers fall in the purchase process.