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Yahoo buys deep-linking app firm Sparq in mobile push

22 Jan 2014

Yahoo has bought mobile marketing firm Sparq in an effort to develop its business in the mobile app space.

Seattle-based Sparq develops deep-link technologies, which allow advertisers and app developers to create URLs that direct users to specific content within an app. This allows users who have already installed an app to immediately be directed to the content within the app instead of a webpage.

For example, Sparq previously demonstrated how it was able to create links to songs on Spotify's mobile apps for Android and iOS using its platform. It has done the same with business-finding app Yelp and Yahoo-owned blogging platform Tumblr.

Deep linking is a technology used regularly by app developers, but because each smartphone operating system handles the execution of app-opening URLs differently, Sparq's technology combines these commands into one short link.

The firm's software recognises the type of device accessing the link and sending it the appropriate commands. Sparq offers this example of its technology, using Wikipedia's Twitter page as an example:

"Try this:

    • If you have the Twitter app installed on an iOS device, it will deep link you to Wikipedia's page within the Twitter app
    • If you have the Twitter app installed on an Android device, it will deep link you to Wikipedia's page within the Twitter app
    • If you don't have the app installed or have a mobile device other than iOS or Android, it will deep link you to Wikipedia's Twitter handle on Twitter's web page".

For Yahoo, this purchase of what is a relatively small-scale startup highlights its clear commitment towards mobile content. According to data gathered by analytics firm Flurry, time spent in mobile apps far outstrips the amount of time spent on the mobile web, proving the importance of media outlets investing time and money in robust mobile applications.

In a message on the company's home page, Sparq founder Jesse Chor said that his firm would be terminating its services to external customers, but would provide support during the transition period.

He added: "We can't thank our customers, investors, advisors, friends and family enough for all of their support over the years."

Earlier in January, Yahoo announced that it had purchased Google Now-rivalling app firm Aviate, continuing its spree of buying smaller companies. Yahoo confirmed the buy to V3, but declined to comment further.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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