PlaceIQ Acquires Freckle IoT In Latest Example Of Location Data Market Consolidation

On Tuesday, PlaceIQ announced its acquisition of Toronto-based location data and measurement company Freckle IoT. Terms were not disclosed.

Foot traffic may be way down during the pandemic, but consolidation in the location data space is heating up.

The day before, Foursquare revealed merger plans with location data provider Factual less than a year after acquiring Placed from Snap.

For PlaceIQ, closing a deal in the WFH age was an interesting experience, said CEO and co-founder Duncan McCall. PlaceIQ first started flirting with Freckle during CES in January.

“CES feels like a lifetime ago now,” he said. “It took an obscene number of calls and due diligence, but we got it done.”

Consolidation is a logical and healthy outcome in bloated categories, McCall said.

“Although there are fewer companies now, there are probably still too many, and we’re seeing that start to shake out in many different sectors and industries,” he said. “We’ll see more consolidation – it’s only natural.”

Late last year, LiveRamp sold the location data-related portion of its business and in January, location data company X-Mode bought the publisher book of business and raw location data assets of Location Sciences, a UK-based third-party location data verification company.

PlaceIQ’s acquisition of Freckle IoT is strategic, McCall said. PlaceIQ sold its managed media business to Zeta Global last summer to focus on its pure-play data business, which is primarily SaaS. Since then, PlaceIQ talked with different companies about acquiring their location data assets before alighting on Freckle.

Freckle IOT’s parent company, Freckle LTD, collects opted-in, first-party data through an SDK and has a large book of business in Canada, where the company is based and PlaceIQ hasn’t yet made inroads. Like PlaceIQ, Freckle IoT doesn’t sell media, but it has invested in applying location data and attribution to search and social channels, neither of which has been a big focus for PlaceIQ to date. The acquisition of Freckle IoT gives PlacedIQ the ability to offer location data and measurment services in Canada. The duo also have very few overlapping customers.

“We’re quite complementary,” McCall said.

The plan is to integrate Freckle IoT’s assets into the PlaceIQ infrastructure over the next couple of weeks. McCall declined to share how many employees are coming over to PlaceIQ from Freckle IoT. Headcount at PlaceIQ is around 80 people, following the divestiture of its media business to Zeta.

PlaceIQ is not acquiring Killi as part of the deal, a consumer-facing app under the Freckle LTD umbrella that lets users earn cash for opting in to share their personal information. Killi will remain an independent company.

Overall, it’s a strange and interesting time to be in the location data business. PlaceIQ is actually busy right now, McCall said, despite the fact that people are barely going anywhere.

Brick-and-mortar businesses still need location-related insights as they pivot to online, McCall said. A QSR restaurant, for example, needs to identify customers that used to visit its physical location in order to reach them with messaging about ordering online or picking up in store.

“Customers have to understand these trends  – what is and isn’t happening in the physical world – and modify their business accordingly,” McCall said. “We’re helping our customers navigate this decline and we’ll also be there to help them navigate the incline back up as well whenever that will be.”

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