Mobile marketing technology firm Augme Technologies has acquired 2D barcode developer Jagtag for $5.25 million, the companies announced today. In addition to gaining Jagtag's proprietary QR codes, Augme said the deal would expand its client list to 150 brands, including Unilever, NBC Universal, Sony and IBM.
Last year, Jagtag made its 2D barcode system available across the five major U.S. wireless operators, or about 90% of mobile subscribers. Almost anyone with a camera phone can use it to access content embedded with one of the company's tags via text message, email or Twitter.
Jagtag's solution has powered QR-based campaigns for NBC, Dell, Toyota and Yahoo. Its best-known effort may be the promotional push it launched last year for the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. That allowed users to snap a picture of a Jagtag code inside SI to get back photos or video clips of featured swimwear models.
Augme expects the Jagtag acquisition to bolster its broader mobile marketing offerings. Its own Ad Life platform allows marketers and agencies to plan, create and run marketing programs across devices using tactics, including 2D and UPC codes, SMS and image recognition. It also provides mobile couponing, custom application development, and data tracking and analytics.
Under the merger, Jagtag CEO Ed Jordan will become CFO of Augme, while Augme CEO Paul Arena will remain in his current role. Shares of Augme, which trades on the over-the-counter market, were up about 4% following announcement of the deal on Wednesday.
The proliferation of 2D codes was underscored in a report released today by barcode technology competitor Scanbuy. It said code-scanning traffic tracked through its ScanLife system was up 600% during the second quarter of 2011 compared to a year ago. More than 45,000 2D codes were generated from the platform in the quarter, a 300% increase from a year ago.
Helping to boost use of 2D codes is growing adoption of smartphones, with U.S. penetration at about 33%, according to comScore. Jagtag has said its QR code system is fairly unique; it doesn't require a user to download a reader application to their phone, making access available beyond smartphone owners.