Qriously raises a new round of funding for social “asQvertising”

Qriously has announced that it has raised an additional $3.5 million in a Series A round led by Spark Capital and with participation by previous investor Accel Partners, adding to the $1.6 million seed round in 2011.

The reason that I am writing about this is twofold. First of all, its unhappily named “asQvertising” is a deeply social approach to targeted advertising, which I will explore. Secondly, it appears that the commentariat is failing to see the social in the technology. When you give people an opportunity to respond to a question and the response to that is tailored based on your answer, you are having a conversation. This is a significant departure from broadcast advertising. It is participative. This is a potentially enormous shift.



In the image above, you can get the idea. The ad appears in an app on a mobile device and poses a question: “Where do you normally run?”, providing three options. The user selects “road” and learns that answer is the most popular. Then a tailored marketing message could be shown, presumably for road runners.

Behind the scenes, though, a great deal of data science can be going on:

  • Qriously can be building a detailed profile about the specific user over time, presumably with an opt-in approach. This could lead to more-targeted campaigns reaching the user in the first place.
  • Qriously can be building a database about users collectively, across different campaigns. This can be crunched in a million ways.

What isn’t shown here but that could be easily imagined is to gather social information based on sharing. Imagine that the third tile — the message, product placement, or whatever else is being revealed — included the option to share the tile with others. A runner might pass along the promotion to Runner’s World via email to a friend or via Twitter to followers. Unique URLs could be created that could be tracked, and all the downstream activity — this earned media, as user carry the message for the brand — could be attributed back to the activity of the first user.

Directly connecting that likely cascade of sharing into the machinery of advertising steps very strongly into a postnormal era of advertising.