ITV Invests $2.74 Million in Location Technology Company What3words

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall

The deal with the start-up, which divides the world into squares and gives each its own three-word identifier, was the first in its ITV AdVentures Invest media for equity initiative.

U.K. TV giant ITV has acquired a 2 million pound ($2.74 million) stake in location technology company What3words in return for advertising inventory.

The company, led by CEO Carolyn McCall, said the deal with the start-up, which divides the world into areas of three square meters and gives each its own three-word identifier, was the first in its ITV AdVentures Invest media for equity initiative. It also has an option to invest a further 2 million pounds.

To show how What3words work, ITV mentioned the  example of the front door to its head office in London, which the start-up describes with the words: drama.keen.buyers.

ITV's media for equity push sees it on the hunt for minority stakes in "early-stage digital and direct-to-consumer businesses, alongside venture capital investment, in return for advertising inventory across ITV's range of market-leading channels and the ITV Hub." ITV has appointed media investor and venture capitalist Niko Waesche, co-founder of Germany's independent media for equity fund German Media Pool, to lead the initiative.

What3words is available as a free app to consumers. Clients of the company include auto brands Mercedes-Benz and Ford, and delivery/e-commerce platforms, such as Hermes and BJS. "In addition, hundreds of emergency control rooms in markets as diverse as the U.K., India, North America and South Africa use the technology on a daily basis to reduce search times," according to ITV.

Said Kelly Williams, managing director ITV Commercial: "We are always exploring new and creative opportunities to introduce emerging brands to TV advertising. This new equity scheme marks an opportunity for ITV to invest in and support entrepreneurial consumer-focused companies, whilst diversifying and expanding upon our existing clients and relationships.

Giles Rhys Jones, chief marketing officer of What3words, said the firm "has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people using the system," adding: "Our work is helping individuals and businesses across the U.K. to make deliveries, meet friends, specify destinations for taxis and cars, but also to save lives. ITV can take our message of helping people to 'know exactly where' to millions of homes."