Gannett announced today it is selling SweetIQ, a location data company it bought in 2017, to Berlin-based Uberall for an undisclosed sum.
By offloading SweetIQ, Gannett becomes the latest publisher to divest from recently acquired ad-tech assets as privacy laws become more stringent, making the possession of such assets a potential liability.
SweetIQ was folded into Gannett’s digital marketing subsidiary, ReachLocal. Now the country’s largest publisher is selling the unit to Uberall, a German location marketing company that helps businesses optimize their online profiles so they can be easily found when someone does a “near me” search.
“Following the recent merger of Gannett and Gatehouse, where we increased our marketing solutions, capabilities and scale, we felt partnering with Uberall for listings management would allow us to focus our efforts on how we can better connect local consumers with local businesses,” said Kris Barton, Gannett’s chief product officer, in an email to Adweek.
Lex ten Veen, Uberall’s evp of partnerships, told Adweek that ReachLocal will white-label and resell the Uberall platform, with the latest development representing the evolution of a preexisting business relationship.
Financial terms of the transaction were not publicly disclosed, although a spokesperson confirmed to Adweek that the deal will see all 35 SweetIQ employees, who help businesses manage their location data and measure consumer engagement, join Uberall.
Gannett is the third publisher in the last year to sell off its internal ad-tech solution. Meredith sold its demand-side platform Viant last November, and News Corp sold video ad platform Unruly in January.
Ameet Shah, vp of publisher operations and tech strategy at digital marketing firm Prohaska Consulting, said by selling off ad-tech units, publishers can minimize their risk in the face of changing privacy laws and standards while still being able to access that same data via third parties.
A Gannett spokesperson said the sale wasn’t about privacy, since SweetIQ and Uberall don’t collect data from end users.
Building and maintaining internal ad-tech products can also be expensive, something publishers likely can’t afford, especially as the novel coronavirus pandemic has sliced into ad revenue and put most live events on hold. News Corp was spending millions of dollars a year to prop up Unruly, Adweek previously reported.
“While certainly valuable, especially internally, it is more challenging to position these ‘expensive to build and maintain’ solutions without external revenue,” Shah told Adweek. “As companies might view each publisher as competitive, the platform revenue becomes much more difficult to achieve.”
Barton said Gannett will be able to provide even more value to clients since it has the knowledge of how to execute marketing plans for local and small businesses that take advantage of the publisher’s first-party data.
Ten Veen said it can be more advantageous for publishers to shed non-core assets and instead find “strategic partnerships” with leading data companies.
“We live and breathe this marketing technology,” ten Veen said.