Time Inc. To Acquire Adelphic And Build A ‘People-Based DSP’

Is Time Inc. trying to take on Google and Facebook? The publisher announced Monday that it’s acquiring cross-device and mobile ad platform Adelphic to build what it's calling a "people-based DSP."

Time Inc. has certainly been on a tech tear.

The Adelphic deal, slated to close during Q1, comes just shy of a year after Time Inc. bought Viant for its people-based marketing capabilities in February.

The move will help advertisers “looking for more efficient buying processes for digital audiences,” said Time Inc. President and CEO Rich Battista in a statement.

Adelphic’s self-serve capabilities and the platform’s mobile focus were particularly appealing, said Viant COO and co-founder Chris Vanderhook. Viant, which offers a primarily managed service, looked at 40 companies in the DSP space before settling on Adelphic.

“The biggest thing we were looking for was how good their platform is and if they have self-service technology,” Vanderhook said. “Programmatic is a very important thing, yes, but clients, specifically agencies, want transparency and control and good self-service technology.”

Adelphic will bring media execution to Viant’s ad cloud platform to give advertisers the “globally scaled people-based platform they have been consistently asking from us,” noted Viant CEO and co-founder Tim Vanderhook.

Viant allows advertisers to upload their data to its ad cloud and get matches back against the Time Inc. file, which includes a portfolio of premium content sites, including Sports Illustrated, People and Fortune.

The idea here is to combine that deterministic data layer with Adelphic’s programmatic media-buying capabilities for cross-channel targeting and measurement purposes.

“There is a big push away from anonymous ad campaigns toward addressable ad campaigns,” Tim Vanderhook said. “And only a people-based DSP can deliver that.”

The ecosystem fragmentation happening outside of Facebook, Google and a handful of other large consumer platforms creates a challenging environment for advertisers seeking cross-platform insights. People-based marketing has generally been the purview of the walled garden behemoths.

The Viant/Adelphic hookup aims to bring that same precision beyond Time Inc. inventory to the wider web, the companies said.

Back in May 2015, when Adelphic was an independent company, CEO Michael Collins told AdExchanger, “Many supply-side companies are creating their own, somewhat closed ecosystems. If you’re a publisher, fragmentation makes perfect sense because you want to protect the value of your inventory and your audience.”

It makes sense for publishers to own their ad tech because they own the direct end-user relationship, said Keith Petri, US chief strategy officer at cross-device data vendor Screen6.

“Too many publishers are giving away their invaluable data without a second thought,” Petri said. “Publishers cannot compete with the walled gardens – Facebook and Google – as fragmented entities, but under the umbrella of Time, Inc. there is a unique opportunity to maintain control and build an ecosystem of their own.”

Adelphic is one of a handful of cross-device players. Its competitors include independent Drawbridge and Tapad, which was acquired by Telenor in 2016. Founded in 2010, the company has raised just over $23.3 million.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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