WhatRunsWhere, a startup providing ad performance comparison tools for online campaigns, today announced its acquisition of Mobile Ad Spy, which will help it monitor and provide intelligence for mobile web ads, in addition to online ads. The deal has been three months in the making, and although WhatRunsWhere isn’t revealing specifics around the deal, COO Max Teitelbaum said in an interview that it involves a combination of cash, equity and earn-out, and that his company was motivated by both the talent and the tech behind Mobile Ad Spy.
Originally, WhatRunsWhere began as a way for co-founders Teitelbaum and Michael Cojanu, both of whom had experience running advertising agencies, to offer an alternative to existing options like Comscore that offered similar or better performance for a fraction of the price. That meant providing competitive intelligence for advertisers looking to buy media, by providing searchable databases of banner ads, text ads, advertisers and placement locations to get a glimpse at how and where competitors are deploying their campaigns, and providing clues as to how deploying similar strategies might benefit or affect their own advertising performance. So far, the company has been focused squarely on display ads, with the intent of basically undercutting established competitors like Comscore on price.
“[Cojanu] built this really as an internal tool to use himself to help him run campaigns, so we saw there was really a need for this especially in the performance marketing space, so we started the company,” Teitelbaum explained. “And then we got feedback once we started working with agencies that said ‘Hey, you know you’re doing what Comscore’s doing but at one-fiftieth the price,’ so we started competing on price alone on the display side.”
Without taking any money, the company grew from an operation funded out of the pockets of both founders to profitability quickly on that basis alone, Teitelbaum says. And while display has been the driving force of the company’s success so far, he says both he and his partner realized early on that there was a huge need in mobile, and one that wasn’t being adequately addressed. WhatRunsWhere has been looking at ways to get into the mobile market for a year now, including building their own product, but eventually they realized that a smart acquisition was the better option.
“The person that built this software actually got the idea from WhatRunsWhere,” Teitelbaum said. “He was one of our earliest users and said ‘This is great, but there’s nothing like this out there for mobile,’ and we found it and gave him a call […] and a couple weeks later we were closed.” The man in question was Rob Keast, a UK-based software developer. Initially, Teitelbaum says that WhatRunsWhere was only looking to pick up the tech Keast had developed, but in discussions were so impressed with the team and talent that they changed tactics and took a more “acqhire”-style approach.
The deal gives WhatRunsWhere another opportunity to compete directly with Comscore, which also offers mobile ad performance comparison tools, and also gives them a leg-up on other startup competitors like AdBeat. Teitelbaum indicated that like with its online display ad business, WhatRunsWhere will be able to undercut Comscore on price as well as out-innovate the much larger company that he says isn’t able to iterate on new features quickly because of size and bureaucracy. Upcoming features planned for improvement of its products include the addition of carrier network performance metrics for mobile web ads, as well as a sizeable overhaul of the backend of WhatRunsWhere that should improve performance all around.
Mobile Ad Spy will continue to offer its product to existing customers in accordance with the terms they signed up with, but going forward the product is to be offered under the WhatRunsWhere banner as an additional product to its display ad business. Keast and his team will remain in the UK, combined with their existing offices in San Diego and Toronto, giving WhatRunsWhere presence in three different countries and on two continents.