Australian tech startup nets big name investors for “100% viewability” venture

By Alison Lowe | 27 October 2015

An Australian tech startup with an “aggressive” growth plan - promising to revolutionise the telco industry and boost viewability of advertising, has pulled big hitters in media, tech and finance into its stable of investors, drumming up millions in its latest capital raising.

 

In a sign of the promise seen in the company, its third capital raising has resulted in “double digit millions” being invested – a figure the Australian Financial Review reports may be around $15 million.

 

Unlockd, which launched in Australia today with partner Lebara Mobile, provides a white label tech solution to telcos that lets their customers pay for part of their usage by viewing advertising and content deals on their device.

 

Among the high profile local backers now coming under Unlockd's wing are Peter Gammell, former MD and CEO Seven Group Holdings; Matt Rockman of Seek.com;Andrew Walsh of Hitwise; Catch of the Day Group's Gabby and Hezi Leibovich; Sam Mostyn, a board member with the Virgin Australia & AFL Commission; Margaret Jackson, chair of Spotless.

 

Speaking to AdNews, Unlockd's CEO Matt Berriman, who said the offering  gives "first access to eyeballs and 100% viewability", says he first came across the technology a few years ago while consulting. He said investors had taken a keen interest and have been following the company's progression along the way.

"Yes this is an aggressive play," he said.

"And judging by the interest we have had, we are hoping to be in six to eight markets by the end of 2016."

 

It's also set to launch in the US next year with a yet to be specified “tier one” telco.

 

Companies who have signed on to provide content and/or adverts through Unlockd are Vice, Channel Ten, Sportsbet, Swinburne University and Weekly Review.

 

Former Southern Cross Austereo's (SCA) head of digital sales and operations, James Bayes, and former SpotXchange MD of APAC, Matt Von der Muhll, joined Unlockd earlier this year as commercial director and COO respectively. Other US and UK investors have also got in on the action.

 

Berriman, who will move to New York to launch the company's US office at the end of November, told AdNews the company is making an “aggressive play” and has plans to be in six to eight markets by the end of 2016.

 

Based in Melbourne, Unlockd currently has 15 staff, a figure which it expects to increase to 40 by February. A London office is in the offing for early 2016.

 

As of Tuesday, Australian customers who download the app and opt-in to view a display ad, deal or piece of content, will be eligible for bonus data of 2GB per month. Content will appear automatically three or four times when customers unlock their phones and will be “highly targeted, relevant and non-intrusive,” said the company. It can also be dismissed instantly.

 

The company is being launched at a time when advertisers are increasingly concerned over the impact on the industry of ad-blocking software and other developments that threaten to minimise the viewability of advertising by consumers.

 

Berriman said the Unlockd solution would forever change the way people use and pay for their smartphones both in Australia and internationally.

 

This is a game changer because it generates new revenue streams and reduces churn for Telcos, whilst giving consumers a new way to pay for their smartphone usage and allows advertisers to reach that holy grail of geo-targeted, full-screen mobile advertising.”

 

Lebara commercial director Michael Baxter said: “By partnering with Unlockd, we’re giving Lebara customers the option to boost their data allowance and stay connected for longer, in return for a tailored and reward-driven experience.”

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