SMI becomes acquisition two for martech veteran-backed private equity company

Australian founded Standard Media Index is acquired by GTCR's Dreamscape portfolio company

Standard Media Index (SMI) is getting a new owner and chief after being purchased by private equity firm, GTCR, through its Dreamscape portfolio company backed by martech notables, Scott Knoll, Michael Iantosca and David Hahn.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. As part of the deal, SMI chief executive, James Fennessy, will step down and join Dreamscape’s board of directors as well as remain a consultant to the business. In his place, Knoll takes up the reins as CEO, effective immediately.

Home grown Standard Media Index provides advertising data and insights on the media marketplace. It runs offices in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney and Toronto and claims to capture $250 billion in annual media spend globally, focusing on across 34 countries and capturing more than 95 per cent of all US national brand expenditure.

Dreamscape was founded in 2020 via partnership between Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca with GTCR. It has an agenda to acquire marketing technology businesses and recently made its first investment in April: Advertising research, analytics and media planning software company, SQAD. Again, under that deal, SQAD’s chief, Marc Krigsman, stepped down and has been replaced by Knoll as CEO.

SMI was co-founded by Sue Fennessy and Jane Ractliffe in 2009 in Australia and moved headquarters to New York in 2011. Fennessy served as CEO until 2016 before being replaced at the helm by former chief commercial officer, James Fennessy. In a statement, the company noted a several milestones over recent years, including successfully growing global coverage, revenue, financial market products, as well as new media spend and cross-screen pricing solutions.

“SMI’s leading data and ad intelligence products provide clients with real-time information to help drive better strategies around spend, placement and yield optimisation,” Knoll said. “With the proliferation of media channels and ad types, the insights SMI can help provide are now an essential driver of media strategy. The company’s deep relationships with clients and agency partners are underpinned by its customer-centric approach and its commitment to innovation.

“The SMI team has built a truly unique offering and, together with our partners at GTCR, we believe there is an opportunity to further advance the platform and drive growth across the business.”

GTCR managing director and co-head of TMT, Craig Bondy, said SMI was well-positioned in the marketing and advertising industry with deep relationships with its partners and customers.

“We believe our investment, alongside the Dreamscape team, will provide the resources to expand SMI’s current product portfolio to address new markets and create fully integrated solutions for its customers,” he said.

Prior to partnering with GTCR, Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca worked together from 2011 to 2019, more recently as CEO, chief strategy officer and chief revenue officer of media quality verification vendor, Integral Ad Science.

Fennessy acknowledged the deal as an important milestone for the entire SMI team, partners and clients.

“This investment is a culmination of Sue’s vision for SMI and a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the SMI team that has enabled us to transform how transparent ad cost and spend data is used by the industry,” he commented. “This partnership with GTCR and Dreamscape is the next step in our journey and we are all very excited at the potential this new venture will deliver for our partners and customers.”

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