Telenav, Owner of, Buys Hyperlocal Ad Platform ThinkNear

Navigation and mapping specialist Telenav has acquired ThinkNear (AdExchanger Q&A) just five months after the hyperlocal ads company launched. The $22.5 million deal ($18.5 million cash plus options) may come as good news to other mobile-local ad startups, suggesting strong demand and potential fits with companies in the fast-changing GPS and mapping arena.

Telenav owns navigation and discovery brand, available as a website, app or mobile browser-based interface. Speaking with AdExchanger, ThinkNear CEO Eli Portnoy suggests the latter, because it requires no download, has great potential to complete the “last mile” between showing someone an ad and leading them to a transaction. “What we can do now is when we show an ad we can actually point the consumer directly into this turn-by-turn navigation without having to download anything. We can go from, this is a really cool offer or business, whatever it is, we can drive them all the way to the location.”

The deal closed last Wednesday October 10, at which point ThinkNear’s team of twelve employees joined Telenav’s mobile local advertising group. With the purchase, Telenav has set up a new unit, Scout Advertising, to house the combined advertising offerings of the two companies. Telenav already offered a product called Telenav Drive-To advertising, which reaches 34 million customers (internal numbers) and offers a unique metric it calls “drive-to rate,” which reports the number of users who have clicked through to view directions to an advertiser’s business location.

In a statement, Telenav VP Products and Monetization Dariusz Paczuski said, “This is a platform built from the ground up to leverage the mobile experience. We will help advertisers reach the right people while deploying the right mobile measurement tools. We expect this to change the game for advertisers. We are 100 percent focused on providing them with a clear and remarkable ROI on their mobile advertising spend. The proof will be the increase in customers driving to their front door.”

Here’s more from ThinkNear’s Portnoy (who also posted some personal thoughts on his blog):

ADEXCHANGER: How did the deal come about?

ELI  PORTNOY: We were working together on putting together a deal. The further we got along on the deal, the more it became clear we should just join them.

Will you exclusively work on Telenav products?

We’ll continue to work with all our existing partners. Part of the beauty of the combination is we can continue to leverage our expertise across the mobile system to get reach and distribution so that advertisers are not only buying impressions on Telenav properties, but also on the ThinkNear network.

Catch us up on ThinkNear network. What’s happened in the five months since you launched?

We launched in April. We’ve since seen dozens of the world’s most recognized brands use the platform. We’ve been executing some massive campaigns that have performed really well.

The last piece for us – the piece we want to own to take our solution to the next level — is the last mile. How do we go from showing that perfect ad to get someone to act on it?

What do you think this means for the hyperlocal space?

I don’t know what it means for others. For us it creates an opportunity to make an even bigger dent in what is becoming a massive market.


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