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Mediamath Acquires Akamai's Ad Business to Beef Up Data-Management Capabilities

Mediamath Gets Akamai's 'Pixel Free' Tracking Technology

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Mediamath has acquired the Advertising Decision Solutions ad business from Akamai to boost its data-management offerings as it continues to fight for the growing pie of ad dollars being funneled into the automated buying of online ad space.

The deal is Mediamath's latest attempt to expand the types of products it can offer its advertisers as it competes against other independent tech platforms such as Turn's, as well as Google's, for ad dollars being spent on real-time bidding. The company says it generated $180 million in net revenue in 2012, up from $77 million in 2011.

Joe Zawadzki
Joe Zawadzki

Mediamath and Akamai would not disclose financial terms, but the cash portion of the deal is believed to be significantly less than the $95 million that Akamai paid in 2008 for a company called Acerno, which ADS was built around. Akamai get a stake in Mediamath and an observer seat on the company's board and about 70 Akamai employees will join Mediamath as part of the deal.

There were three main components to the deal. First, Mediamath is getting Akamai's data co-op business, which will let advertisers in the retail category, for example, who buy ad space using Mediamath's technology tap into aggregated purchase data from others in their category to help target their ad campaigns. The co-op technology also allows individual advertisers the ability to gather all of the data they are analyzing for different types of campaigns into one spot, letting the Mediamath system optimize the buying of ad impressions on overall marketing goals.

"We had a data management platform since inception," said Mediamath CEO Joe Zawadzki, "but what Akamai and the ADS data platform brings to the fore are data scientists focused on this for a half-decade-plus and the ability to create these bespoke coops among opt-in parties."

As part of the deal, Mediamath is also becoming an exclusive licensee of what Akamai calls its "pixel-free" technology. Akamai is mainly as a content delivery network, that helps publishers and advertisers make sure that their webpages and ads show up quickly and securely in front of web users.

As such, it can drop one cookie that anonymously tracks everything users may do on a marketer's webpage from browsing products to completing purchases. For advertisers who use this tech, it means that they don't have to select only a few pages to tag for fear of slowing down their sites. It also means that they should be able to get campaigns that rely on user data from their webpages (such as retargeting campaigns) off the ground quicker than before.

Lastly, Akamai has previously sold their data products packaged together with media space, and largely executed those ad buys using Turn. That business will now be run on MediaMath.

For Akamai, the deal looks like an abandonment of expansion attempts into media that the company kicked off with the Acerno acquisition. Still, Akamai exec Mike Afergan wouldn't acknowledge that. Instead, he called the deal the "next step in our strategy" and said it was time to turn the business over to a company that specializes in media.

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