Millennial Media's acquisition of competitor Jumptap has shed new light on the mobile arena. Despite being the country’s second-largest provider of mobile display advertising, behind Google, Millennial has struggled to recapture the momentum it enjoyed when it went public last year.
The $193 million acquisition will inject new vitality into the Baltimore-based company, claimed Millennial CEO Paul Palmieri. “With this acquisition we’ll be a newer, larger, more capable Millennial Media, rivaling Google in mobile display,” Palmieri said during an earnings call. “We’ll bring the world’s largest set of combined mobile advertising solutions to regions around the world.”
Agencies, on the other hand, greeted the news with skepticism.
"For the health of the mobile advertising industry, I was hoping to see a seven-figure exit in the space,” commented Marcus Pratt, director of insights and tech at Mediasmith.
“Jumptap has raised $122 million, so this doesn't seem like a huge exit, but they clearly saw a benefit to selling rather than moving ahead with the rumored IPO.” In addition, Millennial’s market cap is only “about one-third the size of Valueclick and a fraction compared to Yahoo,” Pratt added.
The surprise, noted Sacha Xavier, partner, media and innovation director at Neo@Ogilvy, was that the buyer was another mobile-focused company. “I've been sort of waiting for Jumptap to get acquired or go public, but I assumed it would be by a major ‘desktop’ pub,” she said. "[Millennial and Jumptap] have never really been able to distinguish themselves from each other very well, and the two companies are always talked about as interchangeable - I often hear 'Jumptap or Millennial' as if it is one word."
Both Jumptap and Millennial have positioned the acquisition as “complementary” to both companies’ offerings. “When Millennial became strong in SDK penetration to app developers, we went after real-time bidding to expand our access to inventory,” said Jumptap CEO George Bell. “Where Millennial was strong in brand, we went after performance. Where Millennial was strong in first-party data, we built our third-party data technology and partnerships.”
Given that the vendor landscape is already crammed with mobile-ad platforms offering similar features and functionalities, Millennial still has a tough battle ahead, noted Christine Peterson, US group director at MRY. “Millennial is clearly making a bigger play into being a one-stop mobile shop: scale, apps, rich media, data, technology and now a strong RTB platform delivering audience,” Peterson commented. “The risk becomes can they stay best in class while trying to be a little bit of everything?”
Two other questions Peterson raised: “Do we really need a separate mobile audience solution? Or do we need a better screen-agnostic, data-driven ad solution?”
The Jumptap acquisition could stem from Millennial’s awareness that its “value proposition is going to be how they're buying, what data they're leveraging and what technology they're using to buy it smarter,” Pratt observed. “The acquisition of [mobile media-buying and RTB-targeting platform] Metaresolver earlier this year and now Jumptap shows this commitment to technology on their part."