inMarket acquires rival Thinknear, suggesting consolidation ahead for location intelligence
Location data is increasingly strategic, but lots of similar-sounding companies and CCPA suggest a shakeup is coming.
Location-based ad platform inMarket is buying Thinknear from owner Telenav. Thinknear is a location-based ads and analytics provider that competes with numerous other companies in the segment.
Todd Dipaola, CEO and Founder of inMarket said in an email that the acquisition will provide inMarket clients with “best-in-class managed as well as self-service platforms.” He added, “they’ll gain access to all of Thinknear’s products such as Geotype and Geolink, as well as their location score performance tech. Notably, inMarket clients will gain access to the Thinknear self-service platform. InMarket previously did not offer self-service.
Thinknear a non-core asset. Telenav is a connected car, navigation and fleet management platform. The transfer of Telenav to inMarket received a quick mention in Telenav’s earnings release yesterday and zero discussion on the company’s earnings call, suggesting its ads business was a tiny fraction of revenue. Telenav is thus likely shedding the ads unit to focus on its core, connected cars business.
Telenav said, however, it plans to work with inMarket to offer in-car advertising to consumers through its relationships with car manufacturers. As part of the deal, the value of which was not disclosed, Telenav will gain a minority equity stake in inMarket.
The acquisition follows Foursquare’s purchase of Placed from Snap in May. InMarket told me the deal was not a response to Foursquare-Placed. However, it still suggests more consolidation may be ahead for the segment.
Too many companies that sound the same. Many companies in the location intelligence segment began life selling media but later moved into selling data and analytics exclusively. Telenav and inMarket continue to sell location-targeted media. Early on, inMarket emphasized digital-to-store analytics and in-store marketing but has broadened its offering considerably in the past five years. The company says it only works with first party location data from its SDK integrations.
There are at least 20 companies that make similar-sounding claims about using mobile-location data to target audiences and measure the offline impact of media (digital and traditional), store visitation and sometimes sales. A partial list includes Foursquare/Placed, PlaceIQ, Factual, Ubimo, Cuebiq, Blis, Skyhook, GroundTruth, Verve, Unacast, Reveal Mobile, NinthDecimal, HERE, Spatially, Pitney Bowes, Gravy, X-Mode, UberMedia and others.
Google and Facebook offer similar targeting and analytics capabilities.
A potential data reckoning ahead. The coming of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) next year may put pressure on some of these companies as third party location data becomes potentially less available and mobile operating systems give consumers more control over who can access location and how often. However, the precise impact of CCPA on location data throughout the broader programmatic ecosystem remains to be seen.
There are also wild cards such as New York’s proposed law substantially banning the transfer of location data collected within the city to third parties. Other municipalities may follow and introduce similar legislation.
Therefore, expect companies that have their own “first-party data” (via developer SDKs) to be near-term acquisition targets.
Why we should care. Putting aside the issue of data privacy (a major one), all brands and enterprise marketers should be working with location data for audience segmentation, business intelligence insights and media measurement. Unless you’re a pure e-commerce company this data is the only way to get a clear and complete picture of media efficacy and the buyer’s journey. Location data can also be utilized as the centerpiece of multi-touch attribution.
For questions to ask location intelligence companies before deciding how to proceed see How to choose a location data provider.
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