ITV has made the first investment under its media-for-equity scheme, ITV AdVentures Invest, in location identification service What3words.
The broadcaster is acquiring a minority stake valued at £2m in return for advertising inventory, with an option to invest a further £2m.
What3words has divided the world into a grid of three-metre squares, giving each location its own three-word identifier, known as a What3words address. For example, the entrance to ITV’s head office can be found at ///drama.keen.buyers.
The business, which has raised more than £80m in capital from investors such as Intel and Deutsche Bahn, has a team of more than 100 people across offices in London, San Francisco, Johannesburg and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In 2015 it won the Grand Prix in Innovation at Cannes Lions.
Clients of the service include Mercedes-Benz, Ford, the AA and Addison Lee. Emergency control rooms in markets including the UK, India, North America and South Africa use the technology to reduce search times. What3words is available as a free app to consumers.
ITV AdVentures Invest will involve ITV taking minority stakes in early-stage digital and direct-to-consumer businesses, alongside venture capital investment, in return for advertising inventory across ITV’s channels and the ITV Hub.
Media investor and venture capitalist Niko Waesche was appointed by ITV in September 2020 to lead the initiative.
Kelly Williams, managing director ITV Commercial, said: “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.
“This initiative will also demonstrate to digital-led businesses the power of ITV’s weekly reach of over 40 million people, as well as the storytelling and brand-building capabilities of TV. We are thrilled that our first investment is a leading UK-based tech company which also supports public services.”
ITV also runs a scheme for entrepreneurial companies new to TV called AdVentures Ignite, and ITV Commercial has an initiative supporting UK’s businesses and their personnel as they return to growth called ITV Backing Business.