Cross-device provider Tapad is offloading its media business with Brand Networks, a social marketing tech firm that serves large retail brands and enterprise clients.
The deal, announced Tuesday, is structured like a partnership rather than an acquisition, said Tapad CEO Sigvart Voss Eriksen.
Tapad’s managed media and creative teams will join Brand Networks to help launch buying technology that combines social with programmatic display and video advertising. Brand Networks is also licensing Tapad’s cross-device graph technology and data to power its buy-side platform, although the tech won’t be white-labeled.
Voss Eriksen declined to say how many of Tapad’s 160 employees are moving over to Brand Networks, although he did note that they’ve all received offers to join the new company. Those who accept will be joining existing Brand Networks offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles and soon-to-open offices in Dallas and Detroit.
As of early 2016, when Tapad was acquired by Norwegian telco Telenor, Tapad’s media business served more than 160 US brands.
But it’s a conflict of interest for any tech company to sell media and services. In addition to cross-device matching and analytics, Tapad’s suite of products included retargeting and audience extension, and buyers were left to wonder if the company was advantaging its own demand.
Data-only or media-neutral solutions don’t have that problem. Oracle-owned cross-device vendor Crosswise, for example, made it a point from day one not to sell media.
“This is a strategic move,” Voss Eriksen said, and for any client who might be uneasy about a conflict of interest, “that concern has been removed.”
Exiting the media biz frees Tapad to focus on its data business and identity products. The company plans to invest in enriching its core graph with consumer behavior and intent signals to enable better targeting and attribution.
“We’re aiming to provide marketers with personalization at scale,” he said. “Now we’ll focus on what we do best, which is the data, and we can help Brand Networks focus on what they do best, which is managed services.”
But while Tapad’s “talent infusion” will help accelerate Brand Networks’ push into programmatic, that’s “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Brand Networks CEO Dave Fall, who joined the company in September after more than three and a half years as Tapad’s chief operating officer.
“Looking ahead, we’ll be working to bring a more holistic cross-device, cross-channel solution set to market, [and] we know from talking to the brands and agencies we already work with that everyone is ready for a more holistic solution set to emerge,” Fall said. “This is our first step toward an omnichannel advertising future.”