US startup Drawbridge is entering the Japan market with a bang, teaming up with an industrial giant.
Mitsui has invested in the cross-device technology firm and now becomes its commercial distributor under a new partnership. Drawbridge is also backed by venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.
Winston Crawford, chief operating officer of Drawbridge told Campaign Asia-Pacific that Mitsui's track-record in the ad tech and martech spaces was what attracted them.
"We are looking for a partner that could quickly get up to speed and innovate alongside us,” said Crawford. “With Mitsui we have a team on the ground actively seeking strategic data partners, which is not something we could have accomplished on our own.”
Mitsui had earlier set up a joint venture with AOL Advertising in 2015 to form AOL Plaforms Japan, a marketing platform provider for brands to reach consumers across multiple devices through programmatic buying and performance-driven campaigns.
Drawbridge currently has 70 million Japanese consumers out of its coverage of 1.3 billion consumers on its global data graph; which covers about 60 percent of internet users in Japan. “We typically see coverage of 70 to 80 percent in the other regions that we are active in, and we plan to reach that level of coverage in Japan."
Crawford notes there are, walled gardens in Japan as elsewhere, but expects to scale data ingestion through more partnerships.
Drawbridge entered China last through partnership with local ad tech firm Miaozhen Systems. It also has clients from Korea, Singapore and Australia. “One of the biggest challenges we face internationally is around educating the market on the different types of identity, best practices for validating data, and the details of integrating,” said Crawford.
Being technogically advanced in terms of consumer device adoption, Crawford said the Japan market could prove to be challenging for brands to deliver personalised customer experiences across multiple platforms. Through its collaboration with Mitsui, Drawbridge has set a long-term revenue target of a few billion yen and over 100 clients, Crawford said.