Ad platform Decisive thinks transparency makes for better mobile ads

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on April 22, 2014

From The News Desk

Mobile ads are becoming more and more common, and more often than not they are annoying. Decisive's David Dundas thinks this may be due to a lack of transparency on the ad analytics side. If advertisers don't really know how their ads are performing, how in the hell are they going to create good, effective ads that not only don't annoy people, but also convert customers?

Decisive, which is exiting stealth today, believes it may have a platform to create better digital ad campaigns. At its core, all Decisive does is sell mobile ads for companies, but Dundas' platform differs from others because it focuses on smaller-to-medium sized businesses that don't have money to launch large-scale customized digital campaigns. It offers a slew of tools including campaign managing, and other analytic and targeting tools that most ad exchanges don't offer for smaller clients.

He admits that services like Rocket Fuel offer similar analytics, but they are generally for large companies and brands with money to burn. "We're focusing on making these tools available to everyone," says Dundas. One such feature is called SmartCPM, which uses machine learning to optimize campaigns.

Decisive's platform provides realtime reporting about how each ad deployed is performing at that precise moment. For example, let's say you launch a mobile campaign on Decisive will show that your ad is running on that website, that you spent $2 to get your ad there, and that it was clicked only two times. With this, businesses trying to optimize their digital campaigns can understand if one campaign is working better on one site than another. It also has features that track location, as well as the precise time when the ad was viewed.

Decisive sells its ads using real-time bidding (RTB), a well-established system that sells ads in (you guessed it) real time. This means ads are bought and then deployed instantaneously, making it easy to alter if a current campaign isn't quite working. "We bid on your behalf and then we take a cut of that bid," said the CEO.

Dundas tells me that since its launch last November it has run over 20,000 campaigns and has raked in more than $1 million in revenue. With this, after only six months in stealth, the company is now profitable.

This platform was born from another company that launched in 2010 called Textingly, which aimed to build a text message marketing tool. It raised $650,000 in seed funding in 2011, yet didn't pan out in the end. So Textingly decided to pivot and rebrand as Decisive.

Currently operating in an office in Manhattan with seven others, the company is now fully launched and trying to get more customers. It's also hoping to get the ball rolling on new advertising products that could even make ads more enjoyable for consumers (imagine that!).

While he wouldn't go into great detail about these new products, he mentioned an idea of ads that were tailored to people's location and other local information. He used the example of a person being in Soho on a 70 degree day. He believes he could make a platform that deploys a personal ad at that moment for that person in real time -- for example, to go into a nearby frozen yogurt shop. If he is able to make a targeted ad product that uses location in such a manner, he would indeed have a valuable ad-tech product.

Of course that's down the line. Even though the company is profitable, it would need much more capital to build out the software for products like that. And Dundas didn't rule out raising more capital. That said, he added, "It feels pretty good not having to worry about running out of money."