Woolworths' Cartology business buys Shopper Media Group for $150m

Supermarket giant's retail media business acquires digital out-of-home player in an all-cash deal

Woolworths’ Cartology retail media business has become the successful purchaser of out-of-home player, Shopper Media Group, acquiring the company for $150 million.

In an ASX statement this morning, Woolworths Group confirmed it had agreed to acquire 100 per cent of the Shopper Media Group business under an all-cash deal worth approximately $150 million. Shopper’s digital OOH network includes more than 2000 screens in 400 shopping centres across Australia.

The conclusion of the deal followed speculation reported in The Australian in May that up to six players were in the running to buy the advertising business. As well as Cartology, the list reportedly included several private equity firms such as Quadrant Private Equity, which owns fellow outdoor advertising company, QMS.

The sale of Shopper comes seven months after its co-founder, Ben Walker, suddenly passed away aged 47. The business has about 50 employees.

Woolworths Group CEO, Brad Banducci, said the growing importance and development of retail media was key to the supermarket giant’s evolution. According to Forrester Research, digital advertising sold by retailers and marketplaces in the US will amount to US$40 billion in 2022, up 39 per cent from the previous year. Forrester projects that number will rise to more than US$85 billion by 2026.

In Australia, PwC figures for the burgeoning retailer media sector indicate the sector was worth $850 million in 2021. It's expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.3 per cent to hit $2.1 billion by 2026.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to bring together the complementary capabilities of our retail media business, Cartology, with Shopper’s expertise in out of home media,” Banducci stated.

“Shopper’s screen network offers advertisers outstanding retail context and proximity. Shopper has invested heavily in technology, helping the business pave the way for innovation in retail out-of-home media,” Cartology managing director, Mike Tyquin, added. “The acquisition of the business is an important next step in further unlocking the growth potential of Cartology and accelerating our goal to become the trusted media partner of choice for brands and retailers. It will allow us to provide our clients more opportunities to reach their customers via seamless and targeted advertising solutions.”

The transaction is subject to ACCC approval and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, with completion expected to occur by the end of calendar year 2022.

The Cartology retail media business was established by Woolworths in 2019 with a remit to roll out a national digital screen network across Woolworths supermarkets and build media buying, creative production and reporting capabilities to advertisers.

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