Blis takes its location tech to the US for the first time following $25m funding round

Location tech specialist Blis has announced a $25m funding round, helping it realise plans to have staff on the ground in the US for the first time.

Greg Blis

The business has carried out campaigns in over 50 markets but plans to use the funding to expand its offices beyond the eight it currently has across EMEA and APAC. Blis Media's eyes are on the US as the location-based mobile ad market in the region is predicted to be worth $11.3bn in 2016, growing to $26.7bn by 2020.

The funding round will also be used to invest in engineering and product capabilities. Speaking to The Drum Greg Isbister, founder and CEO of Blis, said one of the product development routes would be to work on predictive modelling based on historical location data.

“Some of the most exciting things in mobile advertising is around what we can do with the data set. The more we invest in insights and analytics, we can see not just where they are, where they go to and what that tells us, but we will move into predictive modelling. We’ll look at historical data to work out where they want to go,” he said.

The funding round included Endeit Capital, Beringea US and Unilever Ventures, alongside additional credit facilities provided by Silicon Valley Bank. The inclusion of Unilever Ventures represents a shift that’s occurring in the marketplace, with major advertisers creating venture capital businesses, though Unilever is somewhat ahead of the game having set up the division fifteen years ago.

With an increasingly complex ad tech marketspace, it’s no surprise that brands are not only looking to be more educated, but also invested. In APAC, the majority of brands are still only spending 10 per cent online, largely due to the dearth of measurement for digital. Considering many APAC markets are almost mobile-only, many ad tech companies are hoping to grab a piece of the pie.

Isbister commented: “APAC is very important for us. With a growing market and a lot more companies, I expect to see consolidation naturally occur where features and products compliment each other, as well as competitive consolidation over the next few years.”

Investors Martijn Hamann of Endeit Capital, Mark Donnelly of Beringea US and Ian Lane of Unilever Ventures will join Blis founder Greg Isbister, president Harry Dewhirst and Rob Hodgkinson of Beringea UK on the Blis board of directors. The series B funding round was advised by Mooreland Partners.

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