After a contentious end to 2018 – including an unsolicited takeover attempt following a negative short seller report – Aphria (TSX: APHA; NYSE: APHA) is back to deal-making as 2019 kicks off.

The company’s latest move is to team up with Toronto firm UNOapp Inc. to develop new platforms for analyzing consumer data and marketing cannabis products.

Aphria will obtain the first option to commercialize new platforms produced through the partnership for international usage.

UNOapp focuses on e-commerce promotion and currently works with brands such as Pita Pit, Subway, Labatt Brewing Company, and Firkin Pubs.

Under the terms of the deal, Aphria will obtain the first option to commercialize new platforms produced through the partnership for international usage before they are made available to any other UNOapp partners.

Direct advertising of marijuana products remains illegal under the Cannabis Act inside Canada, but the law does allow for “informational promotion” and “brand preference promotion,” which includes explaining one brand’s characteristics over any others.

The need for targeted app-based promotion and online solutions in the cannabis industry has recently been strongly highlighted by a series of industry interviews and reports.

A recent StatCan report for instance, revealed that consumers who opted to buy online tended to purchase significantly larger quantities of cannabis products at a time versus consumers who browsed and bought in a physical retail location.

Aphria President Jakob Ripshtein commented on the partnership with UNOapp:

Our industry’s long-term future will be driven by consumer-centric, innovation-led product, brand and technology solutions. We are excited for this collaboration with a fantastic technology partner in UNOapp and look forward to developing industry-leading solutions that shape the adult-use cannabis market for years to come.

Aside from developing new analytic and marketing platforms with UNOapp, Aphria has been busy with additional Latin and South American operations.

Most recently, the company teamed up with a Colombian medical guild to develop curriculum on cannabis usage to be distributed to doctors and medical students.

Last month, Aphria subsidiary ABP S.A. signed a letter of intent to team up with a state-run company in Argentina to cultivate medical grade marijuana.

In other recent news, Green Growth Brands (CSE: GGB) has aggressively pursued an unsolicited acquisition of Aphria, currently offering around $11 per share.

So far, the company has resisted those efforts, stating the offer has been considered but balking due to the position that Aphria’s overall value is worth more than is currently offered.

You can also read a full breakdown of Aphria’s Q2 earnings and operations from Grizzle’s head of research.

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