Smarter targeting

Unacast and Total Communicator Systems want to change the way online ads are served

Photo courtesy of Unacast The core team of Unacast from left to right: Martin Abelson Sahlen, Tech lead; Thomas Walle Jensen, Co-founder and CEO; and Kjartan Slette, Co-founder and COO.

Photo courtesy of Unacast
The core team of Unacast from left to right: Martin Abelson Sahlen, Tech lead; Thomas Walle Jensen, Co-founder and CEO; and Kjartan Slette, Co-founder and COO.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The startup Unacast, several times awarded as one of the most promising tech companies in Norway, was this year’s Best New Nordic Company. The startup powers a global network of proximity providers, enabling brands and retailers to retarget their customers based on offline behavior. By anonymously grouping offline and online behavior the company offers new opportunities. The Oslo-based company, which has opened an office in London and is planning one for New York, has an exciting vision. They have partnered with Schibsted, the largest media publisher in Scandinavia.

Recently the company finished a seed round of 1.6 million USD. The founders were Trolltech founders Haavard Nord and Eirik Chambe-Engh, New Mark Invest, Ice Leopard Invest, and Blystad Invest. Unacast is the first media platform to allow retargeting of online customers based on offline beacon interactions. The platform has been built with privacy at the core of its product and in close collaboration with privacy regulators and consumer organizations. Privacy regulators in Norway are among Europe’s toughest.

Unacast just announced a global partnership with Total Communicator Solutions Inc., a leader in mobile brand management and application development. This will for the first time allow brands to use hyper-local, offline, customer data to deliver relevant and targeted ads and content online.

Total Communicator Solutions was founded in early 2012 by former Qualcomm executive Erik Bjontegard. They develop innovative, fully integrated mobile marketing communication platforms and customized applications to help clients connect with users, customers, and future users in measurable ways on mobile devices. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Spain, Mexico, UK, and New Zealand. At the partnership announcement the CEO said that Unacast is leading the industry in putting customers’ privacy first to ensure responsible collection of data: “The integration of our platform and Unacast’s capabilities keeps consumer privacy at the forefront, while still offering brands a more targeted way to reach and engage consumers.”

The two founders of Unacast, Kjartan Slette and Thomas Walle Jensen, left good-paying jobs at Wimp, where they worked together in the music streaming business. The idea behind their new startup is that digital advertising is getting smarter. If you book online for a hotel in New York, for instance, it’s not uncommon to see ads for hotels in the city pop up everywhere you look the next week or so. But these retargeting ads make assumptions only based on your online data. If advertisers could see that you’ve already traveled to New York then there would be no need for retargeting, or it would open up smarter advertising opportunities.

This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.

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