SHIFT, a cross-network social ad platform, has raised $14 million, according to CrunchBase.
With SHIFT, Brand Networks has a headcount of 250 in offices around the globe, and SHIFT chief James Borow will step into his new role as Brand Networks’ chief product officer. The combined firm now manages more than $500 million in social ad spend for nearly 650 brands and agencies, among those IPG, WPP, American Express, AT&T and Unilver.
The acquisition gives Brand Network access to RelevanceRank, newly announced tech developed at SHIFT. RelevanceRank was built to help marketers boost the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns through tools that measure and predict the performance of paid and organic content.
Under the hood, RelevanceRank offers a set of algorithms that score each piece of content – paid, earned or owned – across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“The purpose of the score is to help [marketers] understand how content will perform if it’s in a paid environment and, if it becomes an ad, to help marketers understand if they should increase their budgets to increase ROI,” explained Borow.
“You’ll see us roll out additional relevance-related products over the course of the year,” he added.
Brand Networks and SHIFT both began as Facebook PMD firms but have since expanded to Twitter and LinkedIn. The buy is Brand Networks’ second major social acquisition, following its $35 million Optimal buy some 18 months ago.
“That was a recognition at the time that, while we were one of eight strategic preferred marketing developers for Facebook, everything that wasn’t paid media was becoming less important on the platform from our perspective and from our customers’ perspective,” Tedford said.
For context, that acquisition coincided with Facebook’s plummeting organic reach, the decline of which sent some marketers scrambling to other platforms. And as more social platforms make their APIs available, Brand Networks will also look to expand its portfolio.
“If a social network is available for a brand to market on, we’ll have to be there,” Borow said. “You’ll see us expand into other networks. It could be Pinterest or Snapchat, or something that doesn’t exist yet.”
Asked to react to the acquisition, Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers, a social media analytics and publishing company, predicted more of these types of deals on the horizon.
“The industry is going to continue consolidating,” Rezab said. “I believe most of the ads-focused Facebook Marketing Partners are going to either disappear or be bought if they're not providing additional value and capabilities.”