AOL acquires mobile ad firm Millennial Media for $238m


AOL, Inc. has acquired mobile advertising and data company Millennial Media, Inc. for $238 million.

The all-cash deal sees AOL offering Millennial stockholders $1.75 per share of common stock.

Founded in 2006, Millennial bills itself as “the leading independent mobile marketplace” and offers advertising solutions that are claimed to make mobile simple for the world’s top brands, app developers, and mobile web publishers.

The company combines a traditional advertising platform with data and technology assets that are said to enable its advertising clients to connect with their target audiences at scale while also driving monetization for its publisher and developer partners.

The acquisition by AOL comes post its own acquisition by Verizon Communications, Inc. back in May this year for $4.4 billion; this new acquisition may suggest that AOL may still be acting with some level of independence after its acquisition by the mobile/ media conglomerate.

AOL said in a statement that the acquisition strengthens their mobile capabilities and (remarkably) underlines its position as the “first global mobile media technology company.”

To justify the claim, AOL added a range of facts about their post-acquisition lineup, including that they now add a leading supply-side platform for app monetization with over 65,000 apps, add significant mobile brand advertising scale across ONE by AOL, and have access to approximately 1 billion global active unique users and robust addressable and cross-screen targeting capabilities.

“AOL is well positioned as consumers spend more and more time on mobile devices, and as advertisers, agencies and publishers become more reliant on programmatic monetization tools,” AOL President Bob Lord noted on the deal. “As we continue to invest in our platforms and technology, the acquisition of Millennial Media accelerates our competitive mobile offering in ONE by AOL and enhances our current publisher offering with an ‘all in’ monetization platform for app developers.”

All about mobile

The acquisition makes a lot of sense in the context of AOL being owned by a mobile phone company; as TechCrunch puts it:

When the carrier acquired AOL, executives at the companies noted that monetizing and further growing Verizon’s vast mobile audience …was one of the main reasons it was interested in AOL, which already had developed an advertising network that ran across both sites owned by AOL as well as those owned by third parties …Buying Millennial to expand that to yet more third parties expands that strategy even further.

The acquisition of Millennial brings to the table an extensive mobile advertising network that expands AOL’s existing advertising marketplace further into mobile advertising, the sort of solid fit that its owner Verizon would want.

Millennial actually went public in 2012 and was valued as much as $2 billion at one stage, well north of its final acquisition price; it had raised $240.2 million prior to its initial public offering (IPO) from firms including New Enterprise Associates, Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, CRV and others.

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and is expected to close some time during the Northern Autumn.

Image credit: screenshot/ Millennial