Mobile marketing start-ups to watch

Every month Emi Gal provides a round-up of 10 start-up companies which agencies should know about. Emi is the founder & CEO of Brainient, one of the UK’s leading ad-tech start-ups. Headquartered in London, Brainient is backed by some of the most prominent investors in the world including Seedcamp, Arts Alliance, Atlas Venture and 500 startups. You can find Emi on Twitter @emigal.

Your business can no longer afford to treat mobile as an afterthought. With the growing technical capabilities of handsets and their exponentially increasing adoption, you’d be doing yourself – and your customers – a huge disservice.

Mobile is a core part of our offering at Brainient, which is why our campaigns are available across all devices. However, most companies still struggle to find the right way to tap into the marketing power of mobiles.

The good news is that there are hundreds of mobile marketing services that can give you the edge in engaging with customers on the go. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, I’ve picked the best mobile marketing start-ups.


Passworks is a new platform for the under-used mobile wallet apps on iOS, Android and Windows Phones.

It allows brands to build, distribute and monitor pass-marketing campaigns which are shared through social platforms and email. Retailers are able to employ smart beacons in-store, as well as geo-location services, to guide users to particular offers or locations.

Passworks can target a specific audience or a brand campaign, and when a user with the downloaded offer is in close proximity to a store or outlet, a push notification will be sent to remind them to redeem it. The offer must be downloaded and stored on their device.


Twilio makes it easy to use mobiles to promote your brand. Founded in Silicon Valley, the company has been helping businesses from Coke to Airbnb to better connect with their customers and improve internal communications.

Twilio provides cloud-based voice and text services that can be used by brands and developers to create all manner of weird and wonderful projects. For example, it has made lamposts talk in Bristol as part of the Hello Lampost campaign and helped bands including Little Dragon and Lamb of God to distribute their albums direct to their fans.


Somo helps businesses with everything from custom app development and banner design to advertising tools. Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have all approved Somo as a developer partner, meaning they recommend their own clients to Somo for mobile design and build, so you’re in safe hands. Somo is based in London but has offices around the US, Europe and Asia.


As the name suggests, this service allows mobile developers to instantly add social features to their app. Founded by the creators of, a widely lauded mobile app creation platform for non-developers, Socialize wraps social interaction around any type of content in an app. Used effectively it can drive app installs, boost engagement and get the kind of user intelligence that will allow you to identify the most popular content, and the most influential users.


In 2006, Tod Sacerdoti and Dru Nelson noticed the shift in video viewing habits and that there wasn’t a viable, scalable way to monetise digital video content. Brightroll is the pair’s attempt to fix the problem. Now the largest video ad platform, BrightRoll provides scale, optimisation and transparency across online, mobile, tablet and connected TV.

The sheer reach and scale of the platform should make any marketer’s eyes water. With more than five billion global monthly video impressions and partnerships with 15,000 mobile apps and websites, this may be the extra ingredient you need to supercharge your campaign.


Kahuna is a mobile engagement service that understands customer behaviour on mobile and web. It automates marketing campaigns based on usage patterns, identifying when, where and what notifications to send to your users.

Kahuna allows you to define your own demographics and set up behaviour-based campaigns or run personalised campaigns to custom user groups at the best time and on the right device. The service comes with more than 50 pre-built engagement campaigns, which customers can tweak and it even learns from campaign data over time. The longer it runs, the better it performs.


There is lots of choice when it comes to location-based marketing but Foursquare has to be the leader in this field, with over 50million users looking for places to go and spreading the word (or boasting)about their favourite spots. Foursquare is also a social network in itself, and can be linked with Facebook and Twitter, meaning that a strong underlying campaign or service will be magnified by recommendations and shares from users.

Foursquare is more relevant for businesses with a physical presence and events that want to bridge the gap between their online and offline audience.


​dotMobi is a provider of mobile web technology with a focus on making sure companies can reach their users and provide a consistent mobile experience, no matter what device they’re on. It does this by dynamically adapting the content based on particular devices. It also has a tool, Prism, which evaluates your site’s ‘mobile readiness’ on up to six different popular devices.

For those who don’t have the creative resource, there’s goMobi, its web publishing platform that allows anyone to create great looking made-for-mobile sites in minutes – perfect for those who don’t have sufficient creative resource in-house.

Urban Airship

Urban Airship’s focus is on push messaging – those (sometimes annoying) messages that pop up on your smartphone or tablet telling you someone has ‘liked your status’ on Facebook, or that ‘Your troops are ready for battle!’ on Clash of Clans. Urban Airship has perfected the art of the push message.

It realises that mobile means 24/7 access to your customers but also that there’s a delicate balance to be made between reach and frequency, and interruption and intrusion. This means putting your app in front of your users at the right time, and in the right place, providing value to drive usage and brand engagement.


This fantastic start-up allows brands to reach users by rewarding them at moments of achievement, engaging with them at their happiest.

For example, picture this scenario: you are playing Flappy Bird on your smartphone and manage to get a high score of 50, at which point you get offered £10 off your next purchase at Amazon.

Users, developers and advertisers all benefit from this setup. Developers enhance the user experience by offering them tangible rewards when they’re at their happiest. Advertisers also get to engage users with content when they’re feeling good about themselves. Users redeem 22 per cent of the rewards offered to them through Kiip, compared with the usual 0.3 per cent app ad engagement and app revisits and length of average use time also increases.

Kiip makes the analytics available for strategy optimisation too. It’s a simple idea that produces extremely effective results.

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