Rubicon Project Acquires Retargeter Chango For $122M


Rubicon Project acquired search and website retargeting firm Chango in a $122 million cash and stock (but mostly stock) transaction, the companies said Thursday. (Read the investor release.)

“There’s one area of the market we haven’t addressed in the past, and that’s intent marketing,” Rubicon CEO Frank Addante told AdExchanger. “If Google has the platform for search, we can be the platform for the rest of the market.”

The acquisition gives Rubicon a foothold in intent marketing: Toronto-based Chango combines search query data with behavioral and contextual data to conduct programmatic campaigns on behalf of its advertiser and agency customers. It buys the search data or uses the advertiser’s own data.

Chango has approximately 150 employees.

“Rubicon started as an SSP and now they’re moving to the buy side of the equation,” commented Sameet Sinha, a senior equity analyst at B. Riley & Co, on the acquisition.

Rubicon “can now take their technology and give it massive scale,” Addante said.

Rubicon estimates the intent marketing business is worth $35 billion in retargeting and keyword and contextual targeting budgets. Post-acquisition, Rubicon “can now take their technology and give it massive scale,” Addante said.

The acquisition will build out Rubicon’s Buyer Cloud, but also “will be rolled out across the entire platform, and be made available to DSPs,” Addante said. “We want to bring these capabilities to all buyers and sellers in your platform.”

Addante underlined in a call to investors that it did not intend to replace DSPs – important customers for Rubicon – with Chango’s technology.

Rubicon sees benefits for sellers with indirect and direct sales. Addante offered the example of someone searching for a bicycle.

“You might search for something on a search engine, but where you’re likely to land is on a Rubicon Project customer,” he said. “If you’re reading an article on top-rated bicycles on The Wall Street Journal, it’s able to take the content and context and use it.”

The acquisition is Rubicon’s seventh, and follows its 2014 acquisition of iSocket and Shiny Ads, two companies involved in direct deal automation, for $30 million.

Addante hopes the Chango acquisition will complement Rubicon’s iSocket and Shiny Ads purchases. It will bring more advertisers to the platform (Chango counts 60 of the Fortune 500 among its customers), and allow buyers and sellers to transact with Chango data through direct orders.

Sinha observed that adding Chango to Rubicon’s platform could broaden its appeal to advertisers. “It gives them an opportunity to access different budgets with premium publishers and advertisers. A company like Verizon does brand and direct response.”

Rubicon plans to add CPC and CPA pricing because of the acquisition.

Zach Rodgers contributed. 

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