These days, mobile is the darling of the Internet — and the U.S. is the epicenter of its growth. As AdWeek has noted, “Thanks to smartphones going mainstream in the U.S., the leader now wears red, white and blue, at least in terms of ad dollars.”
The December 2012 report of eMarketer, a market researcher focused on digital marketing and media, said the U.S. topped Asia for the first time in mobile ad spending last year, spending $3.8 billion compared to $2.7 billion. By 2016, eMarketer projected, the U.S. will surpass $20 billion and Asia will hit $6 billion.
Small wonder Rahaman moved his company’s headquarters last year from London to New York. He also has U.S. offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. This is where the action — and the money — is, after all.
I asked how his company might target me, for instance, to help a corporate client figure out what particular ad might appeal to me. “We never target specific individuals, just particular audiences and their devices,” said Rahaman.
“Your phone is not in StrikeAd’s database right now but if it were,” Rahaman said, “we might know that your device is a particular model and is browsing a financial site in a particular location.”
StrikeAd works closely with the advertising agency that a corporation has hired to assist it with its advertising campaign. Nowadays, since there are so many platforms to consider, they appreciate the convenience of working with a single partner to access a huge mobile audience. With mobile exploding, StrikeAd is in the right place at the right time to help a company and its ad agency reach wealthy, technology-savvy consumers.
Targeting audiences by their behavior around the world, around location, spending-time and browsing habits is a logical next step from what Rahaman dismissively called the now-obsolete “mobile-ad 1.0 strategy,” in which a company focuses on one particular website at a time to try to attract consumers.
StrikeAd, which was founded in 2010, is compiling a database of devices seen in the past 30 days that currently encompasses 30 million devices in the U.S.
The industries that have begun to embrace mobile advertising the best, he said, are autos and entertainment companies. What is the common thread between the two? “Both of them realized early on that these new ‘channels’ are powerful ways to reach a new, engaged and massively growing audience.”
The migration of tech-savvy consumers to hand-held devices was, all along, the logical progression from the personal computer. “Rather than sitting in a fixed location, you take the content with you,” he said. “It is a more convenient way of consuming media and information and transacting.”
In addition, these objects can make the user feel cool. At least, you believe you’re more in step with the times than those Luddites who still email and do research while seated behind their desks.
This “cool” factor is not to be underestimated at a time in history when Apple AAPL -1.38% , once arguably the coolest company around, staked a good deal of its success on the notion that it was selling not only useful consumer products but also a sense of status to its customer base. As a corollary, Apple’s image has suffered in part because of the company’s slowing innovation, offering modifications of previous successes, such as the iPad, instead of rolling out new products.
Rahaman said he recognized in 2007 while walking in the streets of London that mobile devices had reached a level of sophistication. “I saw everyone on their phones, but they were staring at them to find information — and not really speaking to their friends.”
Rahaman gets a daily reminder during his commute from his home in Westchester to his office in Manhattan. “EVERYONE has got a tablet on the train from Rye (N.Y.), You name it — either a Kindle Fire, an iPad or a Galaxy,” he said animatedly. “Hardly anyone reads a physical book or a newspaper any more on my train.”
That means, of course, they’re all glued to their mobile devices, which is fine with Rahaman. His company’s revenues grew by 500% last year and he expects to have a strong year in 2013, declining to give hard numbers for competitive reasons.
The inevitable question, then, as things are going so well for this privately held company: When are you going public? “An IPO is something that will appeal to us when we have reached scale.”