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After Merger With BlueCava, Qualia Raises $5.5 Million In Funding

With a year of fruitful partnering behind them, the newly unified company is putting their newly acquired funding to work.

At the end of last month, predictive analytics company Qualia merged with cross-device attribution platform BlueCava into a new company, also called Qualia, with Kathy Leake serving as CEO.

The two companies had worked together since last February, when they joined forces to marry Qualia’s graph of commercial intent signals (how the company monitors digital activity to predict customer’s future purchases) with BlueCava’s ability to attribute multiple devices to a single consumer profile.

It was a match made in data heaven as the two were able to offer their clients a “more granular view of intent” as expressed across multiple devices, as BlueCava put it at the time. Since then, the two companies’ fruitful relationships has grown into something more as BlueCava and Qualia became one.

And already it’s paid off. Less than a month later, the newly formed Qualia announced $5.5 million in funding raised, primarily from Verizon Communications, Inc. and S3 Ventures, which Leake is going to put to use as the company hires and expands.

GeoMarketing: How did your merger with BlueCava come about?

Kathy Leake: We have been a client of BlueCava for about a year now. We were actually already integrated with them before the merger. They and another player were helping us gather attribution data and this other player was returning data that didn’t make any sense to us. In some cases they were returning data that claimed that an individual user has 200 devices. Obviously when the average US consumer has only 2.5 devices, how is it possible that a consumer has 200 devices? In what world does that exist. My CTO is a total tech geek. He has four devices.

What we ended up doing was severing our relationship with the other player and continuing our relationship with BlueCava. Strictly based on the legitimacy and accuracy of their data. What we found over time was a shared philosophy for legitimacy and accuracy. We felt a lot of philosophical alignment.

During the summer the CEO of BlueCava approached me to see if I would be interested in merging the businesses and being the CEO of the combined entity. What we did subsequent to that conversation was to look at what’s the strategic value in a merger. What became pretty clear very quickly was the ability to offer a holistic value-prop to the market and to the brand, and that opportunity to service brands end-to-end. With our data as an intent targeting player we brought in just 2 billion intent signals mostly. What we’re now able to do is marry that data to the device graph. The data flow is actually going the other way, which is to say our intent data is going to inform the device graph. Most players use IP and cookies to inform and build their models for cross-screen, we’re going to be using our intent data as a layer, which will be a unique value-prop in the marketplace.

On the end of that, with BlueCava technology we can now prove cross-screen attribution, which I wasn’t able to do before. Now, I know someone is in market for a particular product using my intent data. I know their devices with BlueCava’s device graph, now our device graph. I know their location because we’re ingesting a tremendous amount of location data. Finally, I can prove attribution as well. Really, looking at this holistically from intent to conversion.

Holistically we’re looking at, really a trifecta of marrying intent device and location collectively. What BlueCava brings to the table here is a trademark for what I’m about to describe, which is the creation of a persistent ID using browser attributes. The way that we create our device graph is just a browser statistical ID. Our tag essentially creates an identifier that’s persistent. It’s an anchor for us the fact that it’s actually persistent.

The reason why I bring that up is because other players build their models on IP and cookies. Clearly there’s a flaw in building a model off IP. For example, if a household changes their IP address. What that appears to look like is a new household if you’re ingesting that data. Cookies obviously are not accepted on Safari and Android or they’re deleted by the consumer. Again, there’s an instability in building your model off cookies and IP. The trademark is around this concept of the persistent identifier and it’s absolutely unique BlueCava, and now Qualia.

Are there any specific services that Qualia can now offer that you couldn’t before, or is it more strengthening the data you already offer?

There definitely are. Now we’re able to offer licensing of the device graph to brands. What that does essentially is provide a brand with reach extension. If you provide us a brand or an agency, even a publisher, and provide me with ID’s associated with users we can attribute devices. We typically see and return three devices back for each consumer. What that essentially allows is for reach extension because that would have been a missed opportunity not to reach that consumer on all three devices. That’s something that we could not do before that we can now offer.

The attribution piece is huge as well because prior to the merger I would not be able to tell a brand that a mobile ad worked unless the consumer engaged with the ad in that moment. Now what I can tell them is that someone exhibited intent on their mobile device that received the ad. Maybe they didn’t engage with the ad, they didn’t touch the ad, we have no idea if they even saw the ad, but then they go home at night or into the store and do some research and convert and buy the product. I can now tell brands that that conversion happened, where it happened, and prove attribution that that mobile ad did indeed have an impact.

Even if the ad isn’t engaged with directly, you can still tell that it converted to a purchase.

Exactly. Because I know it’s the same person. As long as I know it’s the same person that owns these two devices. I can demonstrate to a brand that we actually converted them later. Right now today that’s just a huge change for brands because if you’re a brand you actually think that your dollars are wasted. You think you wasted money advertising in a particular medium when in fact you may have not. Those are now conversions that we can find for clients that we weren’t able to do before the merger.

Do you take your successful funding round as a show of confidence in the idea of intent data and cross-device attribution?

This round was actually done by two inside investors so it shows a lot of confidence in … Verizon was already an investor in Qualia and then S3 is an institutional investor that was invested in BlueCava. After the merger they both stepped up to reinvest in the business as a merged entity, which shows a lot of confidence in the value that they see of us. They both viewed it as a catalyst. Really a one plus one equals three. It’s a validation of the business more than anything else.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.