Opera Mediaworks Preps For Acquisitions

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Mahi-De-SilvaMobile ad startups take note: Opera Mediaworks is revving up its acquisition engine.

Spun out from the Norwegian browser company Opera Software last year, Opera Mediaworks is made up of companies such as AdMarvel, Mobile Theory, 4th Screen Advertising and Handster. After integrating its various services into one suite, the company’s next goal is to bring on additional capabilities.

AdExchanger spoke with CEO Mahi De Silva about the company’s road map.

AdExchanger: How are the businesses you’ve acquired integrated?

MAHIDE SILVA: Since 2010, we’ve acquired six companies. And since 2013 we've taken all the disparate pieces of those companies and put them together. We now have one technology platform and we go to market under the umbrella brand of OperaMedia Works.

Can you share a use case for how a customer uses your platform?

If we take a customer like Pandora, they use our targeting engine and our forecasting tools, but we also bring in a number of demand sources for them. So when they don’t have an ad that they’ve sourced directly, they can place an ad from a third-party network, and that includes our Mediaworks Network, formerly known as Mobile Theory.

By having all of this in one stack, it’s the same platform that’s delivering a direct-sourced ad and the third-party ad that we sourced. In other words, we’ve taken out latency in the system.

If we have to go to a third-party network for an app, for example, it takes about 300 milliseconds to bring the impression into the application. If we do it on our platform, we can do it under 50 milliseconds and when you think about this across 65 billion impressions a month, it starts to make a difference.

What types of mobile startups are you looking to acquire next?

We’ve been looking at two things. One is what are the technical capabilities that can provide more value to our customers? We’ve heard that our customers need more help distributing their apps and doing cost-per-install and cost-per-acquisition types of transactions.

The second is geographic expansion. A lot of companies look at China and India, but data adoption in those markets has been quite sluggish and smartphone adoption is still lagging. So we’ve been focused on where the ad markets are and looking at where various geographies are in market and audience size.

Our formula has been to look for folks that can show scale. We tend to look for companies that have a relevant story and have shown engagement with advertisers and/or publishers. We typically don’t look at early stage startups.

So no acqui-hires?

It’s less focused on acqui-hires, simply because we’re a pretty well-known employer. We have a propensity towards things that are bit more at scale.

How much are you planning to invest in these acquisitions?

We’ve built a pretty big war chest in terms of our market cap and this year we’re delivering over $1 billion in ad spend through our platform. We haven’t allocated a particular amount for the acquisitions, but our market cap is approaching $2 billion.We wouldn’t spend all of that, but we have the ability to take on some fairly sizeable transactions.

What’s your timeframe for any acquisitions?

We’re constantly evaluating companies. We’re actively working on deals today and you can expect to see things announced this year.

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