IDGVI News: Portfolio News 2014

Mobile analytics startup puts Southeast Asian telcos to work collecting data

22.09.2014

by Richard Byrne Reilly


Above: Vserv's Dippak Khurana
Image Credit: Vserv

Dippak Khurana and his mobile analytic startup Vserv are letting large telecommunication firms in South East Asia do the heavy lifting for them.

Khurana’s info derives from a proprietary algorithm that enables Vserv to collect data from carriers while simultaneously connecting clients to information on users from apps, telecos, offline data partners, for example.

Vserv is doing so to take advantage of the enormous growth in its home turf in India, where the number of mobile phone users has rocketed from 35 million in 2010 to 200 million today. (However, only about 80 million are using smartphones.)

Khurana’s approach to mobile data, albeit one based — for now — in emerging markets, bears watching. Most mobile-analytic companies in the U.S. don’t rely on telecoms for data.

By working with Vodaphone, Airtel, and Mobifone, all with massive presences in the booming South Asian markets, Khurana argues that he is able to collect more and better information on mobile users.

The data he accrues contains more data points than other analytic plays because these telcos have vast troves of data. And that data is gold to marketers.

“We looked at this problem in emerging markets and saw that mobile ad campaigns we were serving were irrelevant. The question became ‘How do we make this data smart?’ And we did this by partnering with Indian carriers who are helping us integrate the data,” for our customers, the ambitious Khurana said.

Khurana employs a small army of engineers in India and China. Vserv has previously raised $7 million in venture funding.

The ambitious Khurana said his software is leading the way in Southeast Asia to monetize mobile ad campaigns for advertisers just starting to get comfortable in serving ads on smartphones and tablets.

Predictably, Khurana said business is booming, with Vserv amassing 500 million unique user profiles so far and closing on a $100 million run rate in the next year. Khurana said at the current rate of growth, Vserv will tally 1.2 billion unique users when the candles are blown out on 2016. Has has no plans to introduce his business model in the U.S. — yet.

For now, South Asian markets lag behind Europe and the U.S. in terms of their access to mobile analytic data, which is the lifeblood of mobile advertising. The mobile advertising ecosystem in the U.S. will be a $35 billion arena by years end, according to eMarketer. Vserv might help South Asia catch up a bit.

Khurana said that clients using his AudiencePro analytics tool are able to capture 80 attributes per mobile user. AudiencePro, Khurana said, enables his clients to rapidly build up user personas and trigger intent signals.

“Mobile providers are generating huge amounts of data. If you look at the problem in mobile advertising, it’s really about understanding the problem of using that data. And all the data we’re collecting, we’re turning into actionable intelligence as a result,” Khurana said.

“Carriers have become the single largest source of understanding users, and by partnering with Indian and Southeast Asian telecos, we’re layering our data with our clients.”