When it comes to ad spend, Cidewalk is more interested in Main Street than multinational brands.
The app-based service, which was spun off Wednesday into a separate business unit from its parent company, mobile ad network Chitika, allows SMBs to create and target local ads across roughly 10,000 well-known apps, including MLB, The Weather Channel, Fox News, Reuters and “Angry Birds.”
Users can get fairly granular with their targeting, using GPS data to hit segments in particular ZIP codes across popular apps that customers or potential customers are already using. In other words, a hyperlocal ad for your neighborhood pizza joint between levels on “Fruit Ninja.”
One-off campaigns cost about $1 per 1,000 views, although the service is also available through a more flexible subscription model.
Cidewalk leverages Chitika’s existing RTB relationships to plug into a number of different exchanges, including Nexage, AppNexus and the other usual suspects.
But to get even more scale, Cidewalk is opening up its API to connect into complementary ecosystems. Along with Wednesday’s spinoff news, Chitika announced that Cidewalk is partnering with the Yahoo Small Business product suite to enable the purchasing of local mobile ads through the Yahoo SMB dashboard.
Chitika CEO Venkat Kolluri sees partnerships like this as “the way of the future.” In other words, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel when there’s a highly relevant pre-existing customer base to tap into, he said.
“If there’s a platform that already exists with millions of customers, it just makes sense to partner,” Kolluri said. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Our platform becomes better if we’re able to plug into something like Yahoo Small Business.”
Cidewalk might be focused on the little guy, but small business is big business for the SMBs themselves. El Basha Restaurant, for example, a family-owned Boston area chain of three Mediterranean eateries, generally sees a 10% uptick in lunchtime traffic when it runs mobile campaigns through Cidewalk.
“These are small shops and their owners are not thinking about nationwide ad campaigns and they don’t have $100,000 or $500,000 budgets,” Kolluri said. “They’re thinking about today and they’re thinking local. From my perspective, location is one of the greatest gifts ever given to online marketers and mobile should be the local business owner’s weapon of choice.”
And there’s no doubt that the local mobile ad space is getting hot. Cidewalk claims that its run locally targeted mobile promotions for several thousand small businesses across the US since the service launched in October.
That’s a big part of the motivation behind the spinoff. And to help the new business unit along, Kolluri and his cofounder Alden DoRosario, also Chitika’s CTO, together are pouring $4 million in seed cash into the project.
“We’re just trying to get the service out there,” Kolluri said.
Founded in 2003, Chitika has three offices, two in Massachusetts and a third in India where it handles tech and development. The company, which has about 50 employees overall, including 15 who will be focusing exclusively on the Cidewalk business, has never pursued outside funding.