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Twitter, Brightkite Push AR Closer to Mainstream

The promise of geo-location ad targeting received a boost last week by two separate developments: Twitter's plans to acquire Mixer Labs and Brightkite's new augmented reality advertising application.

Mixer Labs

Twitter announced it acquired Mixer Labs shortly before the start of the holiday for an undisclosed amount. Twitter has been focusing on expanding location support for users and developers for some time - last month its efforts culminated with the launch of a Geotagging API with support from several of the top Twitter clients.

The Mixer Labs acquisition will build upon these moves. The company just launched GeoAPI, a service for helping developers build geolocation-aware applications. Now that it's part of Twitter, Mixer Labs will be working to combine the contextual relevance of location to tweets, Twitter says. "We will be looking at how to integrate the work Mixer Labs has done with the Twitter API in useful ways that give developers behind geo-enabled apps like Birdfeed, Seesmic Web, Foursquare, Gowalla, Twidroid, Twittelator Pro and others powerful new possibilities."

Social Discovery

Twitter might have mentioned Brightkite in that line up of geo-location app providers: the same week that Twitter announced its acquisition Brightkite, a company that has dubbed itself the social discovery network, launched a national augmented reality advertising campaign on behalf of Best Buy.

Brightkite has been providing augmented reality since August through its partnership with Layar - but strictly as a social network service, letting users see friends' posts and photos through their phones' camera overlaid on real world landmarks.

The Best Buy campaign is Brightkite's first major foray into AR advertising. The company envisions advertising campaigns with local retailers, bars, restaurants and other businesses that will allow users to not only see Brightkite social data but also nearby stores and local offers exclusive to each location.

"Augmented reality is one of the hottest new tools out there and it's no surprise that the first campaign to use it is one of the nation's largest consumer electronics retailers," said Brady Becker, founder of Brightkite. "This initiative pioneers the latest in advertising - combining mobile phones, location awareness and augmented reality."

The AR campaign is running on the Brightkite service through the end of December and is available for both Android and iPhone devices.

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