Does Augmented Reality have a future in mobile advertising? While some cynics in the tech world have their doubts, New York-headquartered Blippar begs to differ – and to push the technology further in mobile advertising, it’s just acquired Netherlands-based AR company Layar, whose platform extends across a slew of applications from advertising to education (Layar was founded in 2009, two years before Blippar, and has raised $17 million in investment).
Joining forces to change the mobile advertising world
Right now, Blippar is being a little coy about the acquisition, informing TechCrunch journalist Ingrid Lunden, “We cannot comment on market speculation at this stage, but Blippar is dedicated to growing the global marketplace for immersive, engaging content, and part of this strategy may include acquisitions later in the year.”
But its founder and CEO, Ambarish Mitra, verbally confirmed that it’s a done deal, due to be officially announced on June 19th.
Layar’s CEO Quintin Schevernels started visiting Blippar’s NY office a few months back to discuss, in Mitra’s words, “how we could work together to bring our vision to hundreds of millions of people.”
By joining, the R&D firepower of the two startups will effectively double and the potential exists for pooling their publisher relationships, extending their audience reach and also moving into new market areas for AR mobile advertising. As Mitra puts it:
“It gives us the best shot at truly changing the world. It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on learning from scratch, gives us headspace in market for whitelabels.”
AR’s second wind
Currently Blippar concentrates its offering on “blipps.” Users with the Blippar app on their mobile devices can snap pictures of print and other types of display ad, whereupon the app opens up a previously unseen interactive dimension to the ad. It’s now working with thousands of companies.
Mitra is already thinking ahead: the acquisition will allow the company to compete in the whole AR marketplace, coming after new rivals with whom it didn’t previously compete, like Vuforia and Metaio.
And those cynics we referred to earlier may well be tucking in to a big slice of humble pie right now, with products like Oculus VR (recently snapped up by Facebook) and Meta giving AR a whole new lease of life. The Blippar-Layer marriage looks set to thrive.