Vista acquires majority stake in Integral Ad Science

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Credit: Vista Equity Partners

Vista Equity Partners has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Integral Ad Science, an ad measurement company used by outfits such as Verizon to gauge things such as ad viewability, fraud and brand safety.

IAS was seen as perhaps the last major verification company operating in its space that hadn't been acquired. Rival Moat, for example, was acquired by Oracle in April 2017 for a reported $850 million; about four months later, Providence Equity Partners snagged DoubleVerify, which also competes with IAS and Moat.

Vista already owns Marketo, which competes with platforms such as Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe. It's also owns a majority stake in Mediaocean, a platform used by many ad buyers to manage campaigns and automate billing.

The influx of cash from Vista will allow IAS to invest more in tech solutions amid an ever evolving ad fraud landscape, Don Epperson, executive chairman at IAS, said in a statement. At the same time, Vista's expanded portfolio can perhaps better compete with outfits such as Adobe or Salesforce, which allow marketers to buy display, TV, mobile or audio across platforms.

"Our goal at IAS was to find an investment partner that shared our vision and commitment to leveraging our expertise and data to provide valuable products and solutions that our customers depend on," Epperson said. "With Vista's support, we can continue to scale our business and build solutions that help our clients protect and grow their digital investments."

Vista is acting as a strategic acquirer, amassing a martech portfolio to rival that of Adobe and Oracle, according to Shawn Riegsecker, CEO at Centro. The industry is still in the early beginnings of creating a comprehensive measurement and analytics offering, he says, describing its current state as "fuzzy at best."

Centro is a software platform that's used by brands to execute digital ad buys as well as media planning.

"Now that much of the technological infrastructure of the industry has been built out, the focus has moved to a greater emphasis on sophisticated measurement, performance and analytics," Riegsecker says. "Integral Ad Science is one of the most sophisticated and widely adopted measurement platforms in the industry. Acquiring control of it at this stage on the measurement industry growth curve is a very smart move and positions Vista's portfolio well vis-à-vis competitive offerings."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies expect the transaction to close during the third quarter. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

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