Mobile ad network Millennial Media is close to a deal to acquire mobile ad targeting and real-time bidding startup Metaresolver, according to execs close to the company. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but experts predict the deal will be for approximately $20 million.
The deal would bring real-time mobile ad buying and targeting technology to Millennial Media. The real-time display market is expected to grow 72% in 2013 to account for 19% of all digital display ads sold, according to eMarketer. Mobile is a very small slice of that , but the mobile ad industry is moving in a similar direction.
Metasolver was founded less than a year ago, in March 2012, and raised $1.85 million in seed funding in April from venture capital firms Baseline Ventures, Harrison Metal Capital, Lerer Ventures and other angel investors. In September, the company has said it anticipated earning more than $10 million in revenue in 2013.
Developing effective mobile ad targeting, while a point of emphasis for marketers, has proven to be a challenge. As such, many ad networks have resorted to buying mobile ad startups, a trend that is likely to continue.
"Companies that enable mobile data such as Admobius, Bluekai and their new mobile product, and PlaceIQ are on fire with advertisers and publishers," Paran Johar, CEO and founder of Mobile Media Summit, said. "As programmatic buying and RTB becomes a larger share of the digital ad market, that trend will be accelerated in mobile at a much faster pace."
Metaresolver founder and CEO Seamus McAteer has previously said the company's strength was in providing "clean" data compared with other DSPs that offered a glut of inaccurate information. The company is reportedly able to target mobile ads based upon device type, mobile carrier, location and time of day (collectively referred to as the "mobile graph") and in turn allow for programmatic buying based on such data.
This is the second successful startup exit for Mr. McAteer who sold his previous company, mobile analytics firm M:Metrics, to comScore in 2008 for $44.3 million.
Metaresolver's staff includes CTO Mike Rowehl, the first engineer at Google-acquired mobile ad network AdMob and part of the founding team at mobile app discovery platform Chomp which was bought by Apple in February 2012.
Millennial Media is expected to book $138 million in 2013, and it will hold 4.1% of the mobile ad market, according to eMarketer.
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