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Why Verve Mobile Bought Roximity And Entered The Beacon Business

Location-based marketing isn't just about joining online and offline; it's about outdoors and indoors more than ever.

From hiring to product releases to a European expansion to a major debt-financing, Verve Mobile has been on a tear over the past year.

Following a smaller acquisition of a mobile wallet tool last June, this week’s purchase of beacon provider Roximity is Verve’s first major acquisition. It shows the former mobile ad network attempting to close key location-based, mobile marketing loops, online-to-offline and indoor and outdoor.

Closing The Location Programmatic Loop

Verve has worked with Roximity and other beacon providers such as Gimbal for the past two years. But to best compete for the various demands of brands, agencies, and publishers, being able to own the hardware and the software for indoor marketing signals in order to join those connection points to buyers’ and sellers’ location data is now essential.

“The most attractive thing about Roximity was the really brilliant engineers who built a world-class beacon hardware and software company,” Verve CMO Julie Bernard tells GeoMarketing. “Location-precision is at the core to our DNA. This adds ever more precise signals to our ability to understand consumer behavior, build audiences, and prove marketing effectiveness.”

The acquisition of Roximity punctuates Verve’s 11-year shift from its mobile ad network origins to a fuller mobile programmatic platform , following the same path as key location-based marketing players such as xAd, Thinknear, and NinthDecimal that have shifted toward self-serve ad targeting and real-time data-driven programs.

When Nada Stirratt was named CEO in April 2015, her mission was to balance the traditional insertion-order sales business that Verve focused on with development into a more open, flexible, and automated program.

The message of openness is made clear with the acquisition and coming integration of Roximity into Verve. For example, when it comes to Verve’s work with other beacon companies and proximity platforms, Bernard says the company isn’t locking its marketing clients and sell-side allies into a single relationship: “Verve’s platform can support any beacon provider that our advertisers and publishers choose to work with.”

What Roximity Brings To Verve’s Table

Roximity’s history predates the rise of location advertising that began three years ago. At the March 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Roximity founders Danny Newman and Austin Gayer won the 24-hour Ford hackathon with their first beacon prototype. After that, the Denver/New York-based company received backing from Fenox Venture Capital, Ludlow Ventures, Fraser McCombs Capital and other investors.

Over time, it netted an impressive list of clients as beacon-based marketing programs entered the mainstream of retail and entertainment venues: Mondelez, AutoTrader, Trident, and its fellow Denver-ite Quiznos, adopted its platform.

In the last year, Roximity sought to branch out beyond beacons with its Verified Places product, which promised a host of location related features and works through GPS and Roximity’s polygon-based geofences.

At the same time, the global beacon space is becoming very crowded. As of Q1 2016, the Proxbook, a database cataloguing location targeting providers,  included a growing list of 293 members from 45 countries — a gain of 20 percent since Q4 2015.

As a proximity industry pioneer, Roximity may have expanded into broader location marketing capabilities too late, making them an attractive acquisition target.

Next Steps: Integration

For Verve, as it continues to build out, Roximity’s promise rests with its head start in the space, its engineering talents, and client list.

“We’ve admired Verve from the start,” said Newman in a statement. “Roximity’s founding mission was to deliver relevant information on consumers based on their location and purchase history, which has also been a core focus of Verve’s.”

“Danny and Austin have assembled an accomplished team of brilliant engineers and we are excited to welcome them to our Verve family,”  Tom Kenney, Verve co-founder, president and chief innovation officer, added in a statement. “Bridging device data with physical locations has been Verve’s core function since day one. Roximity’s beacon distribution adds a deeper layer of in-store behavioral insights marketers deserve.”

Newman and Gayer will report to Kenney.

As for the details of Roximity’s story, going forward the brand name will expire as the company is absorbed into Verve, Bernard told us.

The seven engineers based in Roximity’s Denver office will become part of Verve’s SDK hub and will report into the Verve product organization in Carlsbad, CA.

A few months ago, we asked Stirratt how she wants Verve to be viewed as she approached her one-year anniversary. With the addition of Roximity, along with recent SMB and enterprise tools being added, that vision is looking is becoming clearer:

“Overall, people need to be looking at us as an end-to-end solution,” Stirratt said in February. “The most important way to look at us is that we are connecting advertisers or marketers to consumers. It’s all about our mobile technology platform, the use of location intelligence, and continuous optimization. The one big difference that nobody would have talked to you about a year ago about us is that we put the consumer and the consumer experience at the very center of everything we do.”