Cooliris Spins Off AdJitsu for 3-D Mobile Ads

Startup launches new business unit

Cooliris, a company that has focused for the past five years on powering 3-D experiences online, is now devoting a small team to bringing that technology to the advertising world—and it's announcing a new business unit with that aim, called AdJitsu.

Slick advertising has always been part of Cooliris' sales pitch, but just as the company shifted its efforts from a "3-D wall" to a photo-sharing application called LiveShare, its ad efforts have moved from the wall to mobile advertising, starting with the iPad. CEO and co-founder Soujanya Bhumkar said that the company's technology has gotten to the point where the ads are "better than iAds" (the mobile advertising program from Apple), so he wanted to pursue the business more aggressively without "confusing the messaging of Cooliris."

Bhumkar said AdJitsu's five team members will focus on developing the technology while working with ad networks to bring the format to the actual advertisers, so AdJitsu won't need an army of salespeople. To that end, it has already partnered with mobile ad network InMobi (both startups are backed by well-known venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), and it just announced a partnership with mobile ad company Amobee. AdJitsu product manager Aneesh Karve said the goal is to offer a self-serve technology that allows companies to create ads affordably and quickly, but for now Cooliris is working closely with brands to ensure that the initial ads are impressive.

Speaking of technology, Karve and his other team members showed off some of their latest ads on both an iPad and an iPhone at a meeting last week. They compared an AdJitsu 3-D ad with an iAd, arguing that unlike the iAd, AdJitsu product models are "true" 3-D. In other words, an AdJitsu ad for a camera offers a 3-D model of the camera, not just a collection of images that approximate the 3-D experience. That sounds like a minor technical distinction, but the difference is clear when you try to rotate and interact with the ads—playing with AdJitsu's 3-D model comes closer to feeing like you're playing with a real object, not watching a slideshow.