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xAd Raises $42.5 Million Funding, Snaps Up Earth Networks’ Weatherbug

The forecast for location technology: still hot and getting hotter as early entrant xAd tries to shake off mobile ad network legacy.

As the competition and demand around location technology marketing services heats up, xAd has raised a $42.5 million fifth funding round and acquired meteorological info service Weatherbug.

The round was led by Eminence Capital with additional backing by W Capital and existing investors IVP and Emergence Capital.

“The latest round of funding – all new, with $116.5M funding secured to date – will be used for growth, the acquisition, and to accelerate xAd’s commitment to help the world better understand and apply this fast-growth and emerging technology to communities in critical times of need (as seen with Location for Good) – not just helping businesses improve sales,” xAd CEO Dipanshu Sharma told GeoMarketing.

Why Weatherbug?

No details on how much xAd paid Earth Networks, Weatherbug’s former parent. Weatherbug operates mobile, desktop and Apple Watch apps. It also has a  connected TV app as well.

Weatherbug claims 50 million users — and the consumer insights and reach that goes along with them. And that’s something that will certainly appeal to xAd’s advertising clients.

“Why WeatherBug? Its daily user reach and engagement and a data infrastructure built from one of the largest IoT networks, across 10,000 private weather stations (5x larger than the National Weather Services’ collection),” Sharma said.

“The deal will expand xAd’s mobile user visibility to 50 million users – who have opted in to share their location data many times a day, allowing each technology platform to become richer, more intuitive and accurate.

“Strategically, this acquisition is critical as the future of understanding audiences is quickly moving from the ability to accurately capture behaviors to being able to predict them,” xAd’s CEO said. “Additionally, at a time where the news headlines are often talking about viewability, fraud and lack of measurement, this acquisition provides xAd with the ability to address issues (end-to end) that concern the industry.  And not just with any application.  A highly trusted top rated weather app.  This is important as weather is one of the top (3) activities consumers engage with on their phone.  Not to mention, consumers are most likely to turn on their location services for weather apps vs. any other category.”

xAd’s Evolution

The financing comes a few weeks after geo-data specialist PlaceIQ received an investment from China e-commerce giant Alibaba. xAd has been working on its international expansion for more than a year and planting the company flag doesn’t come cheap, particularly in this increasingly competitive environment for location tech services.

Seven-year-old xAd has spent the last three years reforming itself from its hyperlocal ad network origins into a broader location analytics and enterprise marketing platform.

Now, as companies like direct rivals NinthDecimal and Verve accelerate their location marketplace moves, while other companies like Foursquare and The Weather Company expand their place-based attribution, xAd is under increasing pressure to keep pacing its growth.

In the past few months, it has struck a partnership with online measurement firm comsScore to boost its attribution capabilities and it has rolled out a self-serve ad product to meet the demands of programmatic marketing.

“Here’s the way we look at ad performance driven from location: If you’re targeting people near a business — which we call the proximity product — that is actually the lowest performing method,”  Sharma told GeoMarketing‘s Lauryn Chamberlain at this month’s Yext Location World conference. “The biggest complaint you get about location is that ‘location’ means no scale; if it’s hyperlocal, how are you going to get scale? I think we’re trying to solve for that, and it’s the first time anybody has done it.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.