Today, Jana — one of world’s largest app advertising platforms next to Facebook — is launching a new user retention service. While the Boston-based mobile marketing startup is known for helping companies attract developing-world customers by allowing them to download and test out their apps for free, with Jana Loyalty, it will now be able to detect when and how often people are using those apps — as well as reimburse them for their data costs. As companies race to entice and retain people in emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Mexico on their platforms, this new offering could pose a notable advantage. And since a significant number of people in emerging markets are on pay-as-you-go plans and can’t afford to use new apps, Jana Loyalty provides a viable solution.

Here’s how it works. Jana boasts an audience of more than 25 million people who have downloaded the firm’s mCent app. Clients’ apps are presented inside of mCent the same way they would look in the App Store, but with the added benefit of refined targeting to support discoverability. Users are able to browse apps that are relevant to their interests, download them, and get free data to use them. Jana Loyalty clients can then detect who has continued to use their app, how they are using it, and further engage those who appear most likely to become active users. Extending a risk-free trial of an app to already-interested people means those companies are more likely to see value, and furthermore, to hold onto loyal, habitual users.

While there are other initiatives geared toward the same goal of getting the next billion online — like Facebook’s and Airtel Zero — there are several factors that distinguish Jana Loyalty. For one, the mCent app doesn’t give preference to those who use any particular telco operator because Jana has not entered into any exclusive contracts with specific operators. In fact, it holds 99 percent coverage in markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil. Additionally, Jana delivers content from companies of all sizes and industries, and from both global and local developers. In the last year, Jana advertised more than 1,600 apps. To boot, Jana has amassed quite a global footprint: mCent is currently the top Lifestyle app in the Google Play Store across six countries, and grew its user base by 50 times in the first six months since its launch.

Jana, which was founded in 2009 by MIT researcher Nathan Eagle, has partnerships with 237 mobile operators, which enable free Internet connectivity. Last year, the company became profitable and went from having a handful of clients to hundreds, including big tech companies like Twitter, Amazon and Google. The team also grew to twice the size from 25 to 50 employees. The company has raised $40 million in funding to date from investors including Maurice Lévy (Publicis Groupe), Spark Capital, Jon Miller (AOL/News Corp), Rohini Chakravarthy (NEA), and Esther Dyson.

All images via Jana.