Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp announced today that it has acquired the social video ad platform Unruly for a price that could reach $176 million.
The expected purchase price for the acquisition consists of a cash payment at closing of £58 million (approximately $90 million), subject to adjustments, and up to £56 million (approximately $86 million) in future consideration, mostly contingent on meeting performance objectives. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of September, subject to customary closing conditions.
In a statement, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said the media conglomerate plans to use Unruly to help extend the digital and mobile expertise of its brands, which include high profile publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and News U.K., as well as media and publishing properties such as realtor.com in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, News America Marketing and HarperCollins Publishers.
“We have a track record of acquiring businesses with unique capabilities, allowing them the freedom to do what they do best, while providing a global platform to accelerate their growth and realize their potential,” Thompson said.
Unless the platform is MySpace, that it is. In 2005, News Corp’s predecessor News Corporation purchased the then-popular social networking platform for $580 million. (In 2013, News Corporation was split off into two separate publicly-traded companies, News Corp and 21st Century Fox, the latter of which retained most of its media properties, including Fox Entertainment Group and 20th Century Fox.) Faced with competition from ascendant competitors Facebook and Twitter, MySpace was given a series of unsuccessful revamps that alienated old users and failed to attract new ones. News Corporation sold MySpace to Specific Media, co-owned by Justin Timberlake, for a reported $35 million in 2012.
In Dec. 2013, News Corp paid $25 million to acquire the social video news start-up Storyful, which authenticates and distributes video content for partners such as Facebook, Vice and YouTube. Its other tech holdings include Toronto-based Checkout 51, a mobile savings app acquired in July by its News America Marketing division. It also has a stake in the Rubicon Project, a company that automates the buying and selling of advertising through use of real-time cloud and big data computing systems.
Founded in 2006, Unruly is a video distribution platform that tracks shares and delivers verifiable video views via paid media across mobile, desktop and tablet devices. Using data from 2 trillion video views, the company uses historical sharing behavior to predict the potential for video ads to go viral. Its platform has attracted such brands as Adidas, Dove, T-Mobile, Evian and Renault. The company employs 200 people in 15 offices, with regional hubs in London, New York and Singapore. Its headquarters will remain in Shoreditch, the East London neighborhood where its Social Video Lab is housed.
Unruly’s suite of advertising products includes:
- ShareRank — proprietary technology that is able to predict the virality of videos across social and digital media.
- In-Feed advertising– a mobile-first, video ad format that dynamically adapts to the unique look and feel of news feed formats, with ad that play as soon as the unit is in view on the page.
- In-Page advertising– video advertising that appears as video player units within the body of article pages, across desktop and mobile.
- Skippable In-Stream Advertising– offering programmatic targeting and prominent branding within the player.
News Corp business units will begin to offer Unruly products to their advertising and agency partners in the coming months, which, according to the company, will mean a significant increase in premium video and mobile inventory, a stronger content marketing offering and, ultimately, improved returns for News Corp’s advertisers.