Big data may have transformed the marketing world, but unfortunately, it hasn’t come close to reaching every corner of the real world. In Africa alone, nearly a billion dollars is spent each year on offline ad campaigns that either use unreliable data to analyze their effectiveness or no data at all. It was exactly this disparity that prompted Jimmy Toussaint, and Daghe Osime, to found Adcomm Mobile, a company that brings sophisticated marketing analytics to advertisers in emerging economies.
Adcomm plans to integrate with mobile network servers to track mobile phones and generate detailed data profiles, a bold and unique strategy that is more or less unprecedented in the world of mobile analytics. Once integrated, Adcomm will effectively have a monopoly on reliable data reporting for advertisers in a number of massive markets across the globe.
A self-described “lifelong entrepreneur,” Toussaint came up with the idea that became Adcomm Mobile while building a school in Haiti. “I wanted to market my school to people, but I found out there was no way to do it,” Toussaint explains. “No one at the radio stations could describe their audience, no one who sold billboard space could tell me how many people passed by it each day.” Still, he knew that these problems could be fixed with technology that already existed, and the scale of this challenge enticed him.
But Toussaint wanted to be fully equipped with the knowledge he’d need to effectively solve this problem, so he headed to Columbia University in the fall of 2012. While working on a degree in computer science, he met co-founder and then-Princeton student Daghe Osime when they played against one another in a rugby game. When Toussaint pitched him the concept, Osime immediately recognized its extraordinary potential, and the two got to work on developing the technologies and relationships they’d need to build a successful company.
Adcomm has since established partnerships with companies across the globe — most recently with AirTel, the third-largest mobile communications company in the world. Though AirTel operates from New Delhi, it provides mobile service in more than ten African countries, which is why Adcomm sought them out. Adcomm has successfully estimated the income of AirTel’s subscribers based on the length of their conversations. Then, by combining this income information with observed geolocation of mobile subscribers, Adcomm helps digital billboard owners to adjust their advertisements in real-time to target specific AirTel subscribers based on their income, ages, gender and more.
Today, Adcomm is looking to secure additional funding to support their expansion into key African markets — and beyond. “We’re a small team attempting to achieve a difficult goal, but we couldn’t be more excited and motivated,” Toussaint says. “After all, the more challenges there are, the bigger the reward.”