Marin kicks off 2015 ad tech M&A activity with SocialMoov acquisition

The advertising technology vendor's acquisition comes as reports show a bumper year for M&A activity in the ad tech segment in 2014

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Ad technology platform provider, Marin Software, has acquired social advertising player, SocialMoov, for US$18.75 million as part of efforts to bolster its cross-channel online advertising capabilities.

The deal, one of the first in the ad tech space in 2015, comes off the back of a huge year for mergers and acquisitions across the industry, according to a new report from US-based investment firm, Coady Diemar Partners.

France-based SocialMoov was established in 2011 and provides a platform for Facebook and Twitter advertising aimed at both advertisers and agencies. The company is one of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer partners, and claims to be the first platform to synchronise social advertising with TV ads.

Customers include Ubisoft, Lacoste, iProspect and Havas Media.

Under the agreement, which is due to close mid-February, Marin will hand over US$18.75m (AUD$42m) for the business including $8m in cash and $10.75m in shares. Up to $2m in equity awards will also be granted to SocialMoov employees after the deal closes, all of which are being asked to stay on.

SocialMoov president, Sylvain Eche, and executive director, Veronique Bergeot, will join Marin’s product and social teams, respectively.

In a statement, Marin said the acquisition is part of efforts to build a cross-channel ‘advertising cloud’ allowing marketers to better measure, manage and optimise ad spend across Web and mobile devices.

It highlighted Facebook video advertising, twitter API integration and TV synchronisation as key new capabilities, adding that customers will be able to incorporate Twitter data into digital marketing campaigns and better reach audiences across search, display and social channels. The deal also gives Marin a stronger footprint in Europe.

“Social is the fastest growing segment in online advertising and is essential for both brand and performance marketers,” said Marin’s CEO, David A. Yovanno. “Once the transaction is complete, I believe the combination of SocialMoov and Marin Software will push our social offering to the forefront and strengthen our ability to target audiences across search, display and social channels.”

SocialMoov co-founder and general manager, Veronique Bergeot, his company’s focus has been to help marketers better leverage social networks to drive revenue and reputation . “The combination of our technology with Marin Software will offer advertisers a greater return on their ad spend and new performance marketing opportunities,” he said.

A rapidly changing ad tech landscape

Marin is one of a number of ad tech providers on the acquisition lookout as vendors in the rapidly expanding landscape jostle for a dominant market position.

According to figures from US investment bank, Coady Diemar Partners, the ad tech segment experienced a huge amount of mergers and acquisitions last year, totalling $7.49 billion and up more than $5bn on 2013. The firm recorded 100 transactions over the year in ad tech and services, up from 76 the previous year.

Among the more notable deals were Facebook’s acquisition of LiveRail for $400m, Rocket Fuel’s [x+1] purchase ($230m), Yahoo’s acquisition of BrightRoll ($640m) and Flurry ($200m), MediaMath’s acquisitions of Upcast Social, Tactads and Rare Crowds, Oracle’s BlueKai deal for $375m and Telstra’s Ooyala acquisition, valued at $360m.

Coady Diemar Partners found the largest acquisition of 2014 in the ad tech space was Alliance Data’s $2.4bn acquisition of affiliate marketing technology company, Conversant (ValueClick).

There were aplenty of acquisitions in other related segments, too. Agency and marketing M&A activity was worth $21bn, up from $14bn in 2013, while ecommerce transactions were worth more than $30bn, up from $12.5bn the year before.

In addition, 132 transactions occurred in the social media segment in 2014, worth $4.8bn, up from $2bn in 2013.

In total, M&A activity across the digital media, information and tech sectors reached $224bn last year, up 48 per cent, the report said, with the largest deal being Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19.7bn.

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