While certain companies, like LiveRamp, run away from location data – others are running to embrace it.
On Wednesday, location data company X-Mode acquired the publisher book of business and raw location data assets of Location Sciences, a UK-based third-party location data verification company that helps marketers detect location-related data quality issues in their campaigns.
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, the relationship will be structured as a rev share arrangement.
As part of the transaction, X-Mode, which collects location data through an SDK and owns several utility apps, will take over Location Sciences’ SDK and all of the company’s location data-focused contracts.
X-Mode’s apps include Drunk Mode, an app that lets users track their friends with GPS to make sure everyone makes it home safely after a night out (and stops people from drunk dialing each other), and a fitness app called Burn that tracks your activity, offers up fun facts … and insults you.
In return, Location Sciences is entering into an exclusive partnership where X-Mode will sell the former’s insights product into APAC and the EU, both markets where X-Mode has a presence and Location Sciences is looking to grow.
Location Sciences, which trades publicly on the London Stock Exchange, will remain an independent company.
X-Mode is getting deeper into location data, despite regulatory crackdowns on geolocation, because there’s still an appetite for responsibly sourced first-party location data, said Josh Anton, CEO and founder of X-Mode.
“We’re investing further in this, because of our original thesis, which is that privacy and consent-based legislation will clean up the industry, and we want to ride that wave in a positive way,” he said.
Still, location data, regardless of the source, is becoming synonymous with creepy, unauthorized tracking. On Tuesday, dating app Grindr was called out for sharing location data and other sensitive information with third parties, and that’s only the most recent unfortunate headline for the location data industry.
X-Mode itself saw a roughly 20% dip in available location data after the most recent iOS 13 update, which alerts users every time an app uses their location in the background.
“But we just moved forward,” Anton said. “And since we work with apps that have a real use case for location – transit apps and weather apps, no flashlight apps or games – people open them every day or at least two or three times a week, so foreground location is more than enough for us.”
And business is picking up in Europe, where other location players rapidly exited stage left due to the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, leaving a vacuum.
X-Mode claims that with Location Sciences’ publisher relationships on board, it’s now one of the largest providers of location data in the United Kingdom.
“We’re seeing budgets grow again in the EU market,” Anton said. “The scale people are used to in the ad tech space isn’t going to exist in the same way anymore for location data, but there are budgets for quality data players.”