Ad Tech Vets Form Mobile Ad Startup

GradientXA group of ad tech heavyweights from AdConion, Rubicon Project and OpenX have formed a new company called Gradient X to serve as a demand-side platform (DSP) for performance advertising in mobile media.

The start-up, which aims to improve mobile monetization for advertisers and publishers, has raised a seed round of $3.7 million from investors, including Rincon Venture Partners, GRP Partners and Crosscut Ventures.

The company’s founding trio brings deep experience in building and running online ad platforms: CEO Brian Baumgart is the former chief strategy officer at Adconion Direct; CIO Julie Mattern was co-founder and chief technologist at the Rubicon Project; and CTO Michael Lum previously served as head of engineering at OpenX.

What they aim to do at Gradient X is help to extend programmatic media buying to the mobile realm to help close the gap between fast-growing mobile usage and the ability to monetize all the resulting new inventory.

Gradient X said it is partnering with premium app publishers and the largest ad exchanges and publisher-side platforms as part of its rollout. The company has yet to launch its service, but plans to have a beta version of its platform ready in three to four months, according to Pando Daily. It said it will use its initial funding to expand its engineering team.

The start-up will compete with online DSPs, such as Turn and DataXu, that have extended their offerings to mobile, as well as a mobile-only DSP like StrikeAd.

In her now widely publicized presentation, Kleiner Perkins partner and Internet guru Mary Meeker highlighted the lag between mobile usage and advertising, pointing out that mobile accounts for 10% of time spent but only 1% of U.S. ad dollars.

But Baumgart suggested that existing demand-side technologies haven’t met the needs of advertisers. “To date, the mobile channel has not been easy to navigate for performance marketers looking to drive sales, leads, subscriptions and new customer acquisition,” he said, in the company’s announcement Wednesday. To that end, it will provide tools -- including analytics, optimization and targeting, along with new ad units customized for mobile screens.

 

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