While it might feel like ad tech has been in a perpetual “winter is coming” state of anxiety for some time, there are still pockets of interest for companies offering specific services. In-app advertising is one such growing area attracting outside investment.
The latest example: Mobile ad network Ogury said on Thursday it has raised a $50 million investment round, led by Idinvest Partners, bringing its total funding to $92 million.
Ogury was founded in 2014 by French university friends Thomas Pasquet and Jean Canzoneri. The company quickly grew its mobile ad network, offering upfront payments to developers and publishers in exchange for placing its advertising software development kit in their apps.
Where Ogury differs from many mobile ad networks is that it also provides a consent management platform, so users have options about the data they share with publishers — and can decide whether to pay to access content. If they opt in, Ogury offers insights from these users to advertisers to help them with their targeting.
With Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation top of mind for many investors, and California’s Consumer Privacy Act around the corner, Ogury’s focus on consent helped fuel the investor interest, said Ogury CMO Elie Kanaan.
Ogury said it generated more than $100 million in gross revenue ($81.7 million net) last year and is on track to grow between 40% and 50% in 2019. The company has been profitable since its first year of operation, it said. Ogury has about 400 employees in offices across Europe, the U.S., Latin America as well as the Asia-Pacific region. According to the company, it works with 1,500 advertisers including Bose, Sony Mobile and Paramount and 3,500 publishers, such as IsCool, Audiomack and Zedge.
Kanaan said Ogury would use the investment to enhance its product, continue its international expansion and fund acquisitions. Purchases might include other companies involved with consumer consent and technology that helps consumers choose the types of ads they are served.
Mobile advertising is growing at a clip. Market research firm eMarketer estimates mobile ad spending in the U.S. will climb from $99 billion in 2019 to $166.7 billion in 2023, amounting to 82.6% of the total spend on digital ads. Mobile in-app ad spending this year is expected to reach $81.7 billion, representing 82.5% of the total expenditure on mobile ads.
Other recent investment activity has included private equity firm Blackstone’s deal to acquire the video-focused, app-install mobile ad network Vungle for a reported $750 million. Another private equity company, KKR, took a $400 million stake in app marketing platform AppLovin.
Ogury’s raise comes at a time when investor sentiment about the wider ad tech sector has cooled. The digital ad market remains dominated by Google and Facebook. Most ad tech companies have performed terribly on the public markets. The sector also faces headwinds from new regulation. Mobile app advertising isn’t exactly immune to these challenges, either. And mobile ad tech players need to wrestle with other issues ranging from quality control (among advertisers and publishers), bots and attribution fraud.
App-based marketing continues to grow in popularity for several reasons, according to Wayne Blodwell, the CEO of ad tech consultancy The Programmatic Advisory.
“Brands are thinking more about apps generally and how to develop them,” he said. “People have been saying that for years, but it’s now actually happening, with more decent apps with value versus a poor web experience.” Mobile-app advertising is largely performance based and is coveted because it is highly measurable. Crucially, for investors and potential acquirers, mobile ad businesses also tend to operate with high margins, he added.
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