October 5, 2021 | Abby Phillips

RALEIGH

Reveal Mobile, a Raleigh-based startup that analyzes mobile-location data, said Tuesday it has bought Mira Analytics, a fellow location-data company based out of New York City and Durham.

The purchase, Reveal’s first acquisition, expands the company’s ability to track anonymized cellphone location data to gain insights on things like foot traffic at stores or how many people may have come across an advertisement in a public space. Reveal did not disclose how much it paid for Mira.

The acquisition also helped the company nab a new customer: the ride-sharing company Lyft, Reveal CEO Brian Handly told The News & Observer.

Handly said that Reveal will use Mira’s technology to create products to measure the effectiveness of new advertising that Lyft has put on top of some of its drivers’ cars.

Mira’s analytics tools focus on measuring out-of-home advertising, a subset of advertisements that refers to a variety of things, like billboards, posters or ads on buses.

“We’ve long wanted to work with Mira, and now’s the time as a result of this acquisition,” said Faizan Bhatty, head of business development and strategic partnerships for Lyft Media, in a statement. “… We were determined to work with the optimum provider, and we’re excited to work with Reveal and Mira as our preferred measurement solution.”

Jonathan Frangakis, CEO and co-founder of Mira, will take on the role of chief commercial officer at Reveal following the acquisition.

Mira’s five full-time employees will all join Reveal, pushing Reveal’s total headcount to 39 employees.

Reveal, which raised $2 million at the beginning of the pandemic last April, has several local backers. The Durham-based venture capital firms Bull City Venture Partners and IDEA Fund Partners have both put money into the company, as well as South Carolina-based investment firm Venture South, which has put money into several Triangle-area startups.

Handly said that Reveal will likely raise more money from investors toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

RISE IN DEMAND FOR GEOLOCATION DATA

Reveal is part of a wave of startups that have grown quickly in recent years by taking advantage of advertisers’ soaring demand for geolocation data.

The data gathered from smart phones can help advertisers more efficiently advertise to customers, as they can see which stores people visit the most and when they do their shopping.

But the growth in that technology has also led to some privacy concerns. A survey conducted last year by the firm eMarketer found that around 30% of smartphone owners in the U.S. say they are uncomfortable sharing location data, though the majority are either neutral or OK with it.

Some recent laws, like the California Consumer Privacy Act and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, have given consumers more ability to keep their data from being used for advertising.

Notably, Apple recently gave iPhone users more power to keep apps from tracking their location. Users can now tap a button that tells apps not to track their phones. Around 80% of iPhone users worldwide have opted out of tracking since Apple added the option, The New York Times reported

Handly said his company was initially worried about how Apple’s move would affect Reveal.

“We obviously were concerned about that when they first announced that,” Handly said. “We went out and worked with a number of new supply partners to make sure that we didn’t see a significant loss of location events from iOS devices. And the reality is we have not seen much degradation of the supply (of data).”

Handly said those partners included other software companies and app developers.

Reveal maintains an office near downtown Raleigh, though it has become a remote-friendly employer during the pandemic.

“The competition for technology talent has gotten fierce here,” Handly said. “So the last several technology hires that we’ve made have been from outside of this area. One thing that the pandemic has done is it’s shown us how productive we can be working remotely.”

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate.

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