ITV vehicle invests in mapping tech startup what3words


ITV said it has taken a £2m stake in proprietary geocode system what3words Limited, the first investment of its “ITV AdVentures Invest” a Media for Equity initiative.


What3words is a uniquely accessible location service, which has divided the world into a grid of three-metre squares, giving each its own three word identifier: a what3words address.

For example, the front door to ITV’s head office can be found at ///drama.keen.buyers, and one of ITV’s most-iconic locations, the Rovers Return in Coronation Street is at /// 

ITV said it has acquired the minority stake valued at £2 million in return for advertising inventory, with an option to invest a further £2 million.

The Media for Equity programme sees ITV take 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. 

The initiative will serve as an innovative opportunity for early stage businesses seeking to build scale through TV advertising, alongside a strategic media partner.

ITV has appointed Niko Waesche, a seasoned media investor and venture capitalist, to lead the initiative. 

Waesche was responsible for co-founding Germany’s leading independent media for equity fund, German Media Pool, and brings significant experience from a background in media strategy, sales, data and tech, having previously held senior positions within RTL, GfK and the media industry unit of IBM.

What3words is available as a free app to consumers, whilst clients of the company include auto brands Mercedes-Benz, Ford, the AA and Addison Lee, and delivery/ e-commerce platforms such as Hermes and BJS. 

Hundreds of emergency control rooms in markets as diverse as the UK, India, North America and South Africa also use the technology on a daily basis to reduce search times.

AdVentures Ignite

In addition to Media for Equity, ITV runs a matching scheme for entrepreneurial companies new to TV called AdVentures Ignite. 

ITV Commercial has also recently launched ITV Backing Business, an initiative with a wider remit designed to support UK’s businesses and their personnel as they return to growth. 

Backing Business will offer bespoke content and resources, including marketing initiatives, consumer and cultural insights and research and analysis tools.

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.”

Giles Rhys Jones, CMO of what3words added: “What3words has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people using the system. 

“Our work is helping individuals and businesses across the UK 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. It’s fantastic to have such a great partner on our mission to make the world a safer, less frustrating and more efficient place.”