The Business Times

S'pore mobile ad startup raises record Series B

AdNear's US$19m is highest this year, beating GrabTaxi's US$15m in May, and top in ad-tech industry globally

Published Wed, Oct 15, 2014 · 09:50 PM
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A SINGAPORE-BASED mobile advertising startup has raised US$19 million in Series B, believed to be the highest such amount here this year, surpassing taxi-booking app GrabTaxi's US$15 million in May.

This also marks a record second round of financing by a company in the advertising technology (ad-tech) industry globally, AdNear's founder and chief executive officer, Anil Mathews, told The Business Times on Wednesday.

AdNear - whose location intelligence platform programmatically sends location-relevant ads to mobile audiences on behalf of retailers - snagged new investors Telstra Ventures and Global Brain in this latest round backed by existing investors Sequoia Capital and Canaan Partners.

"The new investment will be used to accelerate global expansion, productise some key data offerings . . . and invest in R&D and data sciences," said Mr Mathews. "We're always thinking of scale - and now more than ever with over 500 million profiled users."

A profiled user is one whose demographics, lifestyle habits and even level of affluence have been worked out by AdNear, based on one's historical location footprint and real-world offline data, such as the type of apps installed on one's mobile phone.

"Location data-driven insights are extremely powerful . . . marketers can use these data points to understand consumer behaviour and build customised campaigns as per their target audience," said Mr Mathews.

AdNear - which has a presence in South-east Asia, Hong Kong, India, Australia and, most recently, Japan - counts SingTel, P&G, Samsung, BMW and IKEA among its clients.

Originally headquartered in Bangalore, AdNear moved its base to Singapore in 2013 to leverage the Republic's geographical location and evolved mobile market.

The startup also bagged US$6.3 million in Series A funding just months after its founding in 2012.

"The continued backing by Sequoia and Canaan is validation of AdNear's offerings, which seem to fall in a sweet spot, spanning location- based, big data and advertising - all of which are current big trends in technology," said Leslie Loh, MD of local venture capital firm Red Dot Ventures. He added that investors tend to pile on their investments in proven startups so that the latter will have sufficient resources to emerge as the category leader - a pre-requisite for the startup's exit and investor's gains.

Said Yasuhiko Yurimoto, president of Tokyo-based Global Brain: "We firmly believe AdNear will become a leading player in the global ad-tech market in the near future."

Earlier this year, San Francisco- based ad-tech company Vungle raised US$17 million in Series B from Google and AOL Ventures, while New York's Yieldbot secured US$18 million in a round led by SJF Ventures.

The global mobile location-based advertising and marketing market is projected to hit US$14.8 billion in 2018, says analyst firm Berg Insight.

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