Source: The Wall Street Journal
Ad-Tech Company Smartly.io to Buy Google-Focused Firm for Over $100 Million
Purchase of Ad-Lib.io will help Smartly.io expand from paid social-media offerings into Google platforms as marketers route more dollars into digital advertising
Advertising technology provider Smartly.io Solutions Oy said it is buying Ad-Lib.io, a company that offers creative tools for various Google platforms, for more than $100 million, as it seeks to widen its offerings beyond social media.
Helsinki-based Smartly.io previously focused primarily on paid social-media advertising on the Meta Platforms Inc. properties Facebook and Instagram, along with Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat. Its technology is designed in part to help brands understand what creative elements resonate best with various audiences and to automatically produce some of those creative assets. It also seeks to help brands deliver an ad to certain audiences at a time and on a platform where it can be most effective.
“Combining the paid social on Facebook and Google together seemed like a perfect match for our customers as a whole,” said Kristo Ovaska, Smartly.io CEO and co-founder.
Smartly.io’s customers include Uber Technologies Inc., Under Armour Inc. and eBay Inc., according to Smartly.io. The company said it processes more than €3 billion, the equivalent of $3.4 billion, in marketer spending each year and collects more than €100 million in annual revenue.
The acquisition comes as marketers route more money into digital advertising, a trend that picked up speed as the pandemic kept consumers at home more and encouraged the growth of online shopping.
Digital advertising was expected to account for 64.4% of total advertising in 2021, according to a December forecast from GroupM, which houses the media-buying agencies and data operations of ad giant WPP PLC. Digital comprised 60.5% of the total in 2020 and 52.1% in 2019, according to GroupM.
The proportion of ad dollars going to Facebook and Google is climbing higher as well. Somewhere between 80% and 90% of digital advertising outside of China will go to Google parent Alphabet Inc., Meta and Amazon.com Inc., GroupM estimated in the forecast.
The acquisition of London-based Ad-Lib.io will help Smartly.io continue to move beyond its social-media roots and into programmatic advertising, connected TV and other parts of Google’s advertising ecosystem, said Mr. Ovaska.
Ad-Lib.io offers marketers tools for use with YouTube, Google ad-buying system DV360 and the Google Ads advertising platform.
In late 2019, Providence Equity Partners LLC took a majority stake in Smartly.io as the private-equity firm bet that brands would spend more marketing dollars on Facebook and other social platforms.
Smartly.io board chair Laura Desmond, an operating partner for Providence and former Publicis Groupe executive, said marketers often test and learn digital ad strategies with a range of technologies or partners, but then seek to consolidate their business with a partner that can help them work effectively across different channels.
The addition of Ad-Lib.io helps Smartly.io serve brand and performance marketers “to bring the best creative to their audience and personalize it so that it’s relevant, and that they buy,” Ms. Desmond said.