Flashtalking Merges With Spongecell To Fuel US And Global Expansion

Rich-media ad server Flashtalking has merged with the dynamic creative optimization (DCO) specialist Spongecell.

Terms of the deal, announced Monday, were not disclosed.

As a combined entity, the two companies should gain more dominance in the US and internationally.

Flashtalking is based in the United Kingdom, and works with blue chip brand clients like Lowe’s, AT&T, Marriott and Walmart, while Spongecell operates out of headquarters in New York. Both have offices globally.

The Spongecell brand will be retired as a result of the merger, and company co-founder and CEO Ben Kartzman will join Flashtalking as chief operating officer, while co-founder Anthony Yam will become an SVP of product at Flashtalking.

The merger gives Flashtalking more resources to service enterprise accounts as it seeks to expand its DCO capabilities for brands.

“The ability to team up with Ben and really build scale in dynamic creative to continue to support bigger clients more deeply and broadly was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Flashtalking CEO John Nardone.

While Flashtalking is known as an ad server, it wanted to expand its expertise in dynamic personalization and rich media, especially in growing areas like video, where Spongecell aimed to be best-of-breed.

Flashtalking plans to position its platform as an independent alternative to Google.

“DoubleClick is so closely aligned with Google, but a lot of clients don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket,” Nardone said. “The whole history and point of third-party ad serving was to have a third party that’s auditing the publisher delivery. When the ad server and the publisher are the same, you lose that.”

That same logic applies to analytics, Nardone said, since marketers should be able to objectively measure the effectiveness of their media.

And Flashtalking has prioritized its analytic capability, courtesy of its acquisition of the attribution platform Encore Media Metrics and mobile analytics firm Device[9].

Also, Flashtalking’s analytics filled an important gap in Spongecell’s stack.

“The media agnosticism was critical to us, but we see this opportunity to build a really robust platform for marketers by combining [dynamic creative] with decisioning, attribution and analytics,” Kartzman said.

As a combined unit, Flashtalking and Spongecell say they will be able to speed up their API integrations to the larger ad tech ecosystem, including native exchanges like Sharethrough, DSPs, DMPs and workflow solutions such as Mediaocean, Nardone said.

“When you’re a DSP, you’re pulling levers to optimize media spend and performance for customers, but one lever you haven’t historically been able to pull as a DSP is creative,” Kartzman said. “So driving tighter relationships with companies like us, we believe, is critical. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.”

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  1. This marriage makes 100% sense. Completely complimentary and looking forward to the improved capability of these platforms. From an advertisers point of view this merger is now a force to be reckoned with to bring down the pricing parity with standard banners which are pretty much becoming obsolete. We are still in an age where it costs more to serve the ad than the actual cost of the media. If anything, this merger should atleast have some economic benefit for a brand (being the largest DCO platform in the market) with potential cost savings passed on to some extent. If we were to move to a make our digital campaigns more impactful, we need to have systems that can enable and encourage a brand to run campaigns at a reasonable cost per impact/impression/acquisition – whatever the KPI. DCO is currently heavily resource intensive PLUS more expensive to build within a performance programme.

  2. Jason Sandoval St. McCrae

    I’m so happy to see this merger happen because as an enterprise solutions consultant, I’ve seen how DCOs in the industry can have trouble breaking out. This should really solidify FT as a leader in the space.
    For the myriad SAND products offered by my company, I need a company with the resources that a combined FT and Spongecell now offer.
    Looking forward to 2018!