Berlin-based Zeotap extracts, refines, and unites data to drive growthSindhu Kashyaap
Software product companies have never been our calling card. India has traditionally struggled to produce champion companies in this space, due to a variety of factors. YourStory brings to you a dozen startups in the space, under #ProductUprising which have the potential to scale, despite the hurdles
Zeotap helps content providers and mobile advertisers use data for better targeting and insights; it promises better results through precision at scale and intelligent technology.
Founders: Projjol Banerjea and Daniel Heer
Year it was founded: 2014
Sector: Big Data
Funding raised: $20 million
Based out of: Berlin
Problem it solves: Data insights
Data, it is said, will talk if you’re willing to listen.
The world’s most valuable resource these days is data, and colossal volumes are being generated with every passing second. Apart from Google and Facebook, there is another bank that holds a huge amount of data - telecom operators. However, until now, they didn’t have access to the best assets and means to use this data.
It was looking at this gap that Zeotap felt content providers and mobile advertisers could use this data for better targeting and insights. That’s what their platform helps them do!
Projjol Banerjea, Co-Founder and CPO, Zeotap had spent a long time in the digital advertising industry. He explains,
“A few years back I realised that every technology would eventually be commoditised, but that access to the best Big Data assets would remain with only a few players such as Google and Facebook, giving them enormous competitive advantages. This problem was particularly evident in the mobile advertising industry and hence on people’s most personal device.”
Building the core tech platform
It was at the same time that ad blockers were on the rise, as irrelevant ads were beginning to annoy consumers. It was then that Projjol decided to convince competing telecom operators and other large enterprises to make their data assets available on a single platform.
Zeotap offers three unique products to the advertising ecosystem that are powered by zeoCore, the proprietary tech platform that is privacy compliant in every market, has been ISO certified and is recognised by CIO Review as one of the Top 20 analytics platforms globally. It provides:
- Targeting While setting up their mobile campaigns, advertisers can choose from a wide range of Zeotap’s high-performing segments that use socio-demographic, interest and purchase data to target their users and ensure their message is seen by the right audience.
- Insights It provides advertisers and publishers with deterministic insights on their audience composition so they understand who engages most with their site or their campaigns, so they can strategise and improve campaign planning.
- Connect Advertisers or publishers with offline customer data such as emails or phone numbers can activate it on mobile for targeting purposes.
zeoCore takes care of the sourcing, refinement, and distribution of the data. Firstly, the team ensures that only the highest quality data that has passed strict audits get ingested into the system. Once the data is in the system, the tech platform refines and creates high-performing segments by unifying and anonymising the data.
“Finally, we make sure that these segments are widely available in each market by distributing them via the leading media buying and data management platforms,” Projjol says.
This lets advertisers deliver their messages only to interested audiences while protecting consumers’ privacy at all times and keeping the data safe.
The challenges and building the network
The team founded Zeotap in September 2014, with Bengaluru as their global technology centre. Zeotap now has offices in New York, London, Madrid, Milan, and Mumbai, and the team claims to be working with major telecom operators around the world.
“We have earned our partners’ trust through a strict focus on regulatory compliance, privacy-by-design, and information security, including ISO 27001 certification,” Projjol says.
However, the main challenge while setting up the business was to win the trust of large enterprise data partners so they would share their data with Zeotap. To overcome this, they focused their efforts on building zeoCore, their proprietary platform that meets data privacy and security requirements in each of their active markets.
Projjol’s connections while working for another company in the advertising industry helped build the team. At that time, he met several interesting entrepreneurs, including Daniel Heer, the Founder and CEO of Zeotap.
“We engaged in a fascinating discussion about the advertising industry and its challenges, and realised how we both shared the same passion and eagerness to solve the lack of quality data in the ecosystem. Since he was working with operator data and I was dealing with mobile advertising directly, we also realised that our industry knowledge and expertise complemented each other. Zeotap began right there,” Projjol says.
There are a large number of mobile data platforms like AudienceArchitect, Krux’s Analytics, and several others in the market. India’s mobile boom has led to a quantum leap in the quantity and value of data generated from consumer interactions.
According to the Nokia India Mobile Broadband Index 2017, the total data payload in Indian telecom networks grew 60 percent in 2017 to reach 165 petabytes, driven by developments such as 4G deployment.
In India specifically, Zeotap has launched a data science team. “As of today, we also count all six major media agency groups as clients along with renowned brands such as Mercedes, Pepe Jeans, Red Bull, Motorola, and many more. We can proudly say that 35 of the top 100 global brands used our data in 2017. The annual sales have increased by more than 100 percent this past year,” Projjol says.
Advertisers pay a fee to activate Zeotap premium data for mobile ad targeting and measurement, and share revenues with the data partners.
The Zeotap team has raised close to $20 million from New York-based New Science Ventures, Innov8, Capnamic Ventures, Iris Capital, HERE, and other angel investors from advertising, big data and telecom industries.
The team, initially based in Berlin and Bengaluru, has grown drastically – they today have a total of 82 employees across the US, Europe, and India.
Projjol reveals that Zeotap started with 16 million customer profiles in December 2016 and has reached 2.2 billion profiles this month.
The company has also been expanding its geographical reach, opening five of its seven offices last year. The team has over 55 people distributed across the globe with 38 in India, 12 in Europe and five in the US.