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Twitter Takes a Look at Beacons, Invests in Marketing Startup Swirl

Swirl is looking to add its location-based ad technology to more widely used apps.

zhu difeng/ Shutterstock

Swirl, a Boston-based startup specializing in beacon marketing, has raised $18 million from a slew of new investors, including Twitter, CEO Hilmi Ozguc told Re/code.

The round, which brings Swirl’s total fundraising to $32 million, was led by Hearst Ventures, and includes Twitter Ventures and SoftBank Capital among others.

Swirl’s technology is intended to surface relevant ads to smartphone-wielding shoppers while they’re actually in the store. It’s a marketing technique that relies on beacons, which are devices that can ping your smartphone once you get within a certain geographic proximity.

For example, a retailer like Nordstrom might use beacons to send you a coupon or deal through a push notification while you’re walking through the store.

These kinds of notifications have to come through an app that’s already on your phone, and that’s where strategic investors like Hearst and Twitter come into play, says Ozguc. Twitter doesn’t use Swirl’s technology as part of its ad offerings right now, but it’s something Ozguc certainly hopes will happen.

“What’s very exciting about this investment and these partnerships,” said Ozguc, “is the future potential of bringing [in] much more widely distributed apps that basically everyone has on their phone and being able to reach every consumer that walks into your store.”

The investment certainly demonstrates Twitter’s interest in this kind of technology, but it’s not the only social network exploring beacons for marketing use. Facebook started testing beacons in late January to help show users more info about the places they visit, including businesses.

This is Twitter’s second investment. It also backed open Android startup Cyanogen in March.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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