- USA Today publisher Gannett is selling its location data management solutions unit SweetIQ to Uberall, a provider of location marketing services. As part of the agreement, Gannett and its digital marketing unit ReachLocal hired Uberall for services that include helping people find businesses when they conduct a "near me" search, per an announcement. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
- Gannett will use Uberball's "Near Me" Brand Experience platform on its digital properties to help consumers find information about local businesses including retailers and restaurants. More than 90% of internet users search for local businesses, making them high-intent consumers, according to data cited by Uberall.
- SweetIQ's employees will join Uberall as part of a new Montreal hub, the company’s seventh location outside its Berlin headquarters. Uberall manages location data about more than 1.25 million geographic points for more than 1,500 customers worldwide, per its announcement.
Gannett's agreement with Uberall is notable for several reasons, including the growing importance of location data in helping marketers reach and convert local consumers. Marketers use Uberall's platform to create "Near Me" brand experiences, including optimized Google My Business listings, social media management, directory listings, reputation management and local ads, per its announcement. Gannett's ReachLocal marketing unit will resell Uberall's platform as a white-label service, Adweek reported.
The sale of SweetIQ to Uberall comes as location data companies consolidate amid a pullback in marketing spending during the coronavirus pandemic. Location data is much less indicative of consumer behavior than it was before the health crisis as many people work from home, order products for delivery or avoid public venues like stores, restaurants and theaters. Those short-term trends may add to revenue pressures on location data companies, forcing them to merge with rivals or expand into other services.
Gannett, which operates 250 local media outlets, acquired SweetIQ in 2017 and the deal was heralded at the time as helping the publisher ramp up its digital marketing capabilities. However, the same trends that are putting pressure on local marketing services providers are also hampering the ability of publishers of local newspapers and their digital sites to sell advertising. The sale of SweetIQ and the reported plans to over Uberall's platform as a white-label service, suggest Gannett is choosing to focus on its core operations and outsource the tech behind its local marketing services.
The pandemic is driving a multitude of changes to the media landscape, with consumers relying more on the internet to learn about and locate local businesses, according to the release from Gannett and Uberall. So while ad sales overall may be shrinking, it is more imperative than ever for businesses to be able to be easily found on search engines, directories and other digital outlets, per the release.
Among the recent merger and acquisition activity, location data company Gimbal this week acquired video advertising technology company TrueX, whose technology asks people to interact with a commercial in exchange for seeing fewer or no commercials during TV shows, to diversify into connected TV (CTV) and addressable advertising. Location data company PlaceIQ in April bought a rival location tracking business from Freckle, with plans to integrate its technology with data about mobile users. Before that, Foursquare merged with Factual to combine expertise in harnessing smartphone data for ad targeting and tracking foot traffic.