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Thinknear’s Hillberg Exits For Bing Maps; Kohn And Fraser Named Co-Presidents

Two years after Hillberg moved over from Thinknear's parent Telenav to take charge of the location ad platform, his duties will be split in two co-presidents, Brett Kohn and Brent Fraser.

Loren Hillberg has left his post as president and general manager of Telenav-owned location ad platform Thinknear to take on the role of partner, Group Program Manager, Bing Maps.

Hillberg moved over to Thinknear in Jan. 2015 following almost six years as Telenav’s VP and general counsel. Location services and navigation tech provider Telenav had acquired the hyperlocal ad network and data platform two years before.

While his background was more squarely in management and legal affairs at Telenav, Hillberg’s leadership at Thinknear has generally been well-received despite not having a direct background in ad tech.

Still, as Thinknear draws closer to Telenav, as the two plot the company’s wider strategy on approaching the role of location data to power connected cars and the Internet of Things, the company has decided to bifurcate Hillberg’s role by promoting two executives from within.

VP of Marketing Brett Kohn and CRO Brent Fraser will now serve as co-presidents of Thinknear.  The decision was based on the continued growth of the business and the desire for leadership to be more focused and aligned with the ever-changing ad-tech and mar-tech ecosystem, Kohn told GeoMarketing, noting that both executives have been with the company for three years. 

As for Hillberg, representatives at Bing Maps’ parent, Microsoft, confirmed his hire, but would not have any additional comment about his role at the this time.

In the meantime, we talked with Kohn about his new focus and what it means for Telenav and Thinknear going forward.

GeoMarketing: Why did Telenav and Thinknear opt to go with the co-president model?

Brett Kohn: For us, it’s something that makes a lot of sense. Brent and I have worked together for over three years. We know the space, we’ve been in the mobile location space for quite a while. And it’s an area that we’re really passionate about and excited about. The co-leadership role works really well for us, in that, he’s gonna be very revenue focused and client focused. And I’ll be more product, marketing, and engineering focused. There’s still a lot of work for the industry to do here and we think this change positions us to take on some of those challenges.

How do you view the current challenges in the location business services and marketing landscape?

From the Thinknear perspective, we still view location as being in the very early days. But the one thing that we’ve seen over the past few years is that the use case for a location is consistently evolving. The use of geofencing and proximity-based targeting is taking on an immediate and central role for brands. At the same time, the dollars in mobile are getting bigger. The dollars in location-specific mobile are getting bigger, and that means brands are looking at more and more ways to use the data.

As you settle into the new role, what will you be focused on?

Our core point of view is that the most unique thing about mobile is fact that you carry it around with you every where you go and that creates this really interesting data stream and opportunities for brands, because there’s no other channel that you take with you every where you go.

That’s the core belief that drives our thinking in terms of product road map and the value that we deliver to brands. And, in some use cases we are using that data to serve media. In other use cases we’re using it to garner insights and analytics about the consumer journey.

We will continue to develop both of those use cases, but our mission is really to do a better job of connecting brands with consumers on mobile devices and we are using location data to do that.Our core point of view is that location is what’s unique about the mobile channel and we’ve got the mission of doing a better job of connecting brands and consumers.

What else will you be concentrating on?

The big things are just making sure that we continue our existing growth path, that we continue building our team and that we continue to serve our clients.

Ultimately, the clients are who we’re here for. We take a lot of feedback from them on product direction, product road map, the key challenges they face. Our goal is to do a better job connecting brands with consumers. To do that we have to have a great team of people. We’re actively hiring and we feel like we’re well positioned to continue to influence the industry and bring value to our clients.

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.