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AppNexus Attracts Public Equity Investment, Now Valued At $1.2B

BrianOKelleyThe independent ad tech company that powers more than 30 billion ad impressions per day through its platform is now, officially, a $1 billion-plus business.

AppNexus revealed Monday it has closed a $60 million investment round from an unidentified Boston public equity and asset management firm, valuing the company at about $1.2 billion. At the time of this writing, the company expects up to $40 million in additional financing to follow from “other interested parties” in the coming months, which would make the new investment total nearly $100 million.

The company’s past raises have totaled $140 million. AppNexus has also increased its debt facility to $75 million, extendable to $100 million.

Rather than riding the ad tech IPO train and weathering the ups and downs of Wall Street, for now co-founder and CEO Brian O’Kelley said the public equity financing will give AppNexus the currency it needs for future M&A, to “aggressively” ramp up on engineering talent and further global expansion.

He spoke with AdExchanger about the deal and ad tech investment landscape at large.

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Facebook, LinkedIn Ads Partner AdStage Picks Up $6.25M

AdStageAdStage, a cross-platform campaign automation tool as well as a Facebook and LinkedIn ads API partner, has raised $6.25 million in Series A financing from Verizon Ventures and myriad other investment firms.

This brings the company to $8.78 million in total funding since its founding less than two years ago. AdStage will predominantly use the new injection to add to its headcount – the San Francisco-based startup now has 17 employees (of which 11 are engineers) and plans to grow to 25 in the months to come.

AdStage is an entirely SaaS-based product and launched initially an “AdStage Express” version of its platform, which “allowed advertisers to build a one-campaign template that would propagate into the four networks we supported – Facebook, Google, Bing and LinkedIn,” according to Sahil Jain, cofounder and CEO of AdStage.

It also released a more advanced product, called AdStage Platform, designed to allow marketers to centrally build and deploy campaigns across multiple ad networks, he said. The funding will also be used for product development, such as a new “Automated Rules” feature for automated bidding, budgeting and day parting for cross-network campaigns.

“Realistically, consolidation is the next step for this (ad tech) space, so we wanted to bring everything that’s useful for an advertiser under one roof and look at it as a workflow solution with third-party integrations,” Jain added.

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Dentsu Sees Q2 Revenue Increase From Client Wins, World Cup Advertising

dentsuDentsu reported steady quarterly earnings Tuesday both in Japan and abroad. The Japanese holding company saw Q2 revenue rise to $1.3 billion, a 9.8% increase YoY.

The company saw 10.6% organic growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 4.7% in the Americas and 14.8% in Asia-Pacific.

The modest growth was driven by new client wins within the Dentsu Aegis Network and a boost in advertising revenue, aided in part by the FIFA World Cup.

Income from advertising hit about $5 billion, a 4.8% increase from the same period last year. Television beat out all other Dentsu business-sector categories by a landslide, at 51.4% of total business. Creative business came in second, at 13%.

Although interactive media only accounted for 4.6% of total business, the sector saw the highest percentage of growth – an impressive 19.3% YoY and a potential signal of the ad world’s digital evolution.
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Q2: Millennial Media Still Can’t Catch A Break, But It’s Looking To Programmatic As The Panacea

millennialmediaIt ain’t easy being a standalone mobile ad network/exchange these days, especially with Facebook, Google and Twitter breathing down your neck — and Millennial Media is feeling the burn.

While Millennial reported $67.3 million in revenue in Q2, up 18% from the same time last year, the number needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Millennial also posted a net loss of $15.1 million in Q2, compared to its $3.1 million loss in Q2 2013. The Q3 2014 outlook is also less than stellar, with revenue forecasts of between $65 million and $70 million, a projected loss of around $7 million or $8 million.

It’s been an uphill battle for Millennial Media. Company stock has fallen precipitously since the company’s IPO in March 2012.

But really, fair enough — Q2 is only CEO Michael Barrett’s first full quarter at Millennial, and he’s more than aware that he has his work cut out for him.

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Sizmek Posts Not-So-Sizable Q2, Buffs Up On Mobile With Aerify Media Acquisition

sizmek 02Sizmek’s Q2 2014 revenues disappointed, with a meek 7% YoY increase to $44 million. In addition, the company said it had acquired Aerify Media for $6.25 million in cash (not reflected in Q2 revenue).

First, the revenues: Despite double-digit growth in LATAM and EMEA, Sizmek struggled due to what CEO Neil Nguyen singled out as “lower-than-expected performance in North America and Asia Pacific.”

APAC performance, down 12% YoY, was “the weakest geography by far this quarter.” This represents Sizmek's first loss in the region in 10 quarters, said Nguyen, who theorized that the slowdown occurred because of reduced advertising from airlines in light of the two Malaysia Airlines tragedies.

The problem in North America was due to stagnation in rich media on desktops, as most clients focused investments in video and mobile.

“We’re being conservative and expect little to modest recovery of those key areas as we look at the full year,” Nguyen said.

Sizmek updated its full-year expectations, anticipating a 12-17% revenue increase.
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Marin's Revenues Display Growth

marinMarin Software’s net revenues are up at $23.9 million for Q2, a 31% YoY increase. The company served 776 active advertisers this quarter, with 13 coming from newly acquired Perfect Audience. The total was up 192 advertisers from Q2 2013, a 33% YoY increase.

CEO David Yovanno, who just completed his first quarter as CEO, touted the company’s expansion into display advertising via new products and acquisitions.

Marin has prioritized expansion into display advertising and real-time bidding, hoping to lose its search-oriented reputation. This initiative includes social advertising, which yielded “modest” revenue contributions in Q2.

“We believe we are bringing a disruptive new model into the display and social retargeting space,” Yovanno said.

He highlighted the company’s acquisition of San Francisco-based Perfect Audience, which offers advertisers a SaaS platform to retarget audiences across the web, Facebook and Twitter.

The acquisition allowed Marin to add new programmatic display and social advertising functions while enhancing its audience targeting tools, broadening the company’s cross-channel capabilities.
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Conversant’s Q2 Tries To Focus On The Future, Not So Much The Present

conversantSince Conversant rebranded from ValueClick and redefined itself from an ad network to an ad tech company, the choppy waters it once rode have calmed.

But last quarter, CEO John Guiliani warned Q2 2014 wouldn’t be as great, particularly due to the possibility of losing – or getting reduced business from – two of its CRM clients.

Conversant’s Q2 2014 revenues came within this guidance, clocking in at $137.4 million, a YoY increase of 7% (that being said, Conversant wasn’t in a great spot financially this time last year). Breaking Conversant down into its two revenue buckets, affiliate marketing revenue from Commission Junction was $40.6 million, (an 11% YoY increase) while its media revenue was $96.7 million (a 6% YoY increase).

The media umbrella includes Conversant’s display business as well as its CRM, mobile, video and cross-channel technologies. The growth rate in media in particular wasn’t as strong as Giuliani hoped. “I’m disappointed this year we don’t have double digits, and I definitely will be next year" if we don’t, he said.

“We’re not there yet,” he added, though he tried to focus on the positive by emphasizing “the things we’ve done to position ourselves for the future, the changing market, and the differentiated products we have.”

Analysts in particular were disappointed with the performance of the company’s media margins, which stagnated between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014. Giuliani said he’s comfortable with Conversant’s focus on adding value via better quality inventory at the expense of gross margins. (more…)


Acxiom Revenue Tanks This Quarter, But CEO Howe Asks Investors To Give It Time

acxiomearningsYou can’t blame Acxiom for trying, but the data management firm still has a ways to go before it achieves its goal of becoming the data management company to end all data management companies. Revenue for the first quarter of 2015 (Acxiom’s fiscal year ends in March) was $242.2 million, down roughly 6% year-over-year from $257.2 million.

Marketing and data services revenue came in at $187 million, down ever-so-slightly from last year. This quarter’s revenue for Audience Operating System (AOS)— Acxiom’s data-management platform (DMP) answer to players like Adobe and BlueKai — came in at about $5.5 million, 50% of which came through gross media spend.

In the words of Acxiom CFO Warren Jensen, the coming year will be one of “transition and heavy lifting.”

The ray of sunshine for Acxiom was gross media spend on AOS, which was up 87% from last quarter to about $28 million. It’s a seam to mine for the data company, which announced seven new AOS clients this past quarter, including a partnership with France-based multinational retailer Carrefour Media. The deal represents the first full deployment of the AOS platform in Europe — and Acxiom CEO Scott Howe is willing to wait and let it percolate before pushing it to bear much-needed fruit.

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RockYou Raises New Funding To The Tune Of $10 Million

RockYouInventory is where it’s at for RockYou.

The company, which recently pivoted away from game publishing to focus on becoming a programmatic in-game video ad network, has raised $10 million in funding from FastPay, a sort of anti-VC that extends credit lines to digital media companies.

It plans to use the money to buy up languishing social, mobile and online games in an effort to pump up its available video ad inventory.

RockYou has a user base of roughly 75 million players, mostly women on Facebook. Although CEO Lisa Marino was unable to share exact revenue numbers, she said about 35 to 40% of the company’s net revenue comes from ads, while the rest comes from digital goods.

“Growing our owned and operated portfolio gives us far more reach to unique users, ultimately delivering greater value to advertisers who can now access even more highly engaged players, i.e., the target consumers for brands,” Marino said. “We’re focused on acquiring existing games, often past their peak but with devoted user bases, and managing and monetizing them through their life cycle.”

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Expedia Flies After Q2, Pushed By Ad-Driven Tailwinds

expediaAnalysts’ high expectations for Expedia’s Q2 2014 earnings were justified when the travel-booking company reported YoY revenue growth of 24% to $1.49 billion.

Though driven predominately by strong hotel room night and air ticket growth, Q2 advertising and media revenue played a notable role in causing the revenue hike, growing 54% YoY to $123 million. Read the earnings release.

Expedia’s acquisition of a 62% majority stake (for $632 million) in German travel metasearch engine Trivago and its promotion of Expedia Media Solutions drove the most ad revenue.

“Trivago is aggressively pushing into parts of the world where they’re very strong and Expedia is perhaps underpenetrated,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said. CFO Mark Okerstrom noted that Trivago generates good leads and is an important traffic acquisition channel for travel advertisers. However, he expects to see deceleration during the back half of 2014.
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