Mobile numbers are moving up and to the right – and social is along for the ride.
Taptica is looking to take advantage of that trend. The mobile DSP announced Tuesday that it would fork over $17 million to acquire programmatic social marketing tech company AreaOne, formerly known as SocialClicks. Both companies maintain their headquarters in Tel Aviv.
AreaOne’s status as a Facebook Marketing Partner was a big part of what made it an attractive acquisition target, said Taptica CEO Hagai Tal.
“We want to be connected to the biggest and most important media supplier out there, and that’s Facebook,” Tal said.
From a consumption perspective, of the roughly 1.7 billion active mobile social accounts worldwide, 1.4 billion are using Facebook, according to We Are Social – and 83% of Facebook users are accessing the social network on a mobile device.
Taptica plans to leverage the mobile data it collects through its DSP to optimize Facebook buys.
“From our perspective, [social and mobile] are effectively a single and very united channel – and data is the key building block for success around optimization,” said AreaOne CEO Alon Michaeli.
AreaOne’s established presence in China was another motivator behind the deal, said Tal.
AreaOne opened an office in Beijing in July where it services Chinese app publishers like Baidu, Cheetah Mobile, Snail Games, Changyou and poker game developer Boyaa.
Having already tapped the market in China, more homegrown Chinese app developers are looking beyond their borders for new users outside of China, mainly in the US and Europe.
Although Facebook doesn’t operate within China, for many local devs Facebook is a major source of traffic outside the local China market.
“We see the China market as a big blue ocean in terms of competitors,” Tal said. “And we want to have our foot in the door.”
Because without the proverbial foot in the door, doing business in China is pretty much a no-go.
“There is a huge benefit to have a local presence – it’s incredibly important, if not mandatory,” Michaeli said. “People in China want to speak to representatives in their own language and they want to be able to get to know the people they work with beyond technology.”
AreaOne’s Beijing team is led by Xiaoyun Wu, who acts as head of sales and operations for APAC. Wu first joined AreaOne about three years ago after moving to Israel to pursue a postdoc in neuroscience and genetics.
AreaOne isn’t the only Facebook Marketing Partner to turn its attention to China. Nanigans, another Facebook Marketing Partner, fetched $24 million in Series B in March. The round was led by Chinese software company Cheetah Mobile, which has since been promoting the Nanigans tech to its in-country clients for overseas campaigns.
But Tal doesn’t want the market to look at AreaOne as just another Facebook Marketing Partner with an eye on China.
“We’re tracking 450 million users,” said Tal. “We’re combining Facebook with our mobile data to identify and target users. That’s our added value.”
Taptica will be adding the majority of AreaOne’s 35 employees to its existing 135. In addition to its HQ in Tel Aviv, where the bulk of its R&D and account management resides, Taptica has sales outposts in San Francisco, New York and London. According to Tal, Taptica plans to hire aggressively in an effort to bulk up AreaOne’s Beijing office, tripling the current headcount of three within the next six months.
Taptica was itself acquired for $13.6 million in July 2014 by Marimedia, a British digital ad management platform that’s publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. Marimedia, which started life on the supply side with a focus on display and yield optimization, bought Taptica to get more into mobile. Marimedia will soon be changing its name to Taptica and the combined entity will be marketed under the Taptica brand.