Jumptap weeds out fantasy shopping with new approach to mobile ad targeting

The last time you pulled out your smartphone to look up Rolex watches or Rolls-Royce cars (or any other ultra high-end product), was it because you really planned to buy one or because you were just indulging another Mega Millions fantasy?

In the past, it hasn’t made much of a difference in how advertisers interested in your mobile behavior used that information to target ads at you.  But George Bell, CEO of mobile ad network Jumptap believes advertisers need to be smarter about separating so-called “impulse” behavior from “intent” behavior, and said his company has a new way to help them do it.

By partnering with thousands of publishers, third-party data providers like Datalogix and Acxiom, as well as data companies that focus on vertical-specific offline data (such as Polk for automotive data), Bell said the company is linking consumer behavior on mobile and the web with offline data to give advertisers a more global picture of their activity.

Distinguishing impulse from intent behavior

“Because of the nature of the device –- it’s always on and always on your person –- people use [mobile devices] to express impulse… people tend to fantasy shop,” he said, adding that other impulse actions include clicking on ads or content by mistake or out of curiosity. “If you don’t have a way to see consumer behavior across screens you’re not going to get a full enough picture of the consumer’s intent.”

From its publisher partners, he said, Jumptap is given hashed (or anonymized) profile information about mobile users–including email addresses–which is then forwarded to the third-party data providers. Those companies query their databases to match mobile information about users to information they might have about their online or offline behavior. The vertically-focused data companies supply additional information to further flesh out consumer profiles.

That’s a lot of consumer data to piece together, especially for privacy-minded smartphone and Web users who may not want their personal information shared with outside companies. But Jumptap said it doesn’t handle user information until it’s anonymized and that it gives mobile consumers tools to learn about the process and opt out.  Last month, the company announced that it has partnered with Evidon, the ad tech firm powering the AdChoices icons that lead to privacy notifications, to bring those icons to mobile web and app ads.

Tracking consumers across multiple devices

Historically, mobile ad targeting has used indicators related to the devices themselves (including the device type, usage, data plan and zip code) and consumer interaction with content and advertising on the device.  Bell said Jumptap’s new “consumer-level” approach to targeting gives advertisers the ability to distinguish between a consumer searching for a Rolex who is actually a luxury shopper and a consumer who is really a student with little income, who happens to be in an affluent zip code, clicking on ads (maybe even by mistake) for high-end goods.

But the company isn’t the only one coming up with ways of tracking and targeting consumers across multiple devices to get more complete pictures of their behavior.  Through device recognition (or “device fingerprinting”), which involves the collection of potentially hundreds of data points flowing off of a mobile or desktop device to identify it, advertisers could start to link behavior across iPhones, tablets and laptops.

As my colleague Ryan Kim has reported, a team of ex-AdMob and Google scientists launched Drawbridge to target advertising across platforms using consumer behavior data from online and mobile ad requests.

Jumptap said it doesn’t yet have data showing the effectiveness of its approach but said a handful of advertising clients are currently using it in beta. As the company looks ahead to an IPO within a year, the ability to target mobile consumers with more granularity will help keep it competitive in an increasingly active marketplace.

For more on mobile monetization, check out GigaOM’s upcoming Moblize conference in San Francisco.