Undertone, a large display ad network has acquired video syndication and technology provider Jambo Media. Both companies are private and terms were not disclosed. The deal comes on the heels of ad network Specific Media acquiring video manager/network BBE, and AOL acquiring video syndicator 5Min. All three deals - and no doubt others to follow - illustrate the consolidation underway between video advertising and other forms of online advertising plus the interplay between video syndication, branded content and advertising.
Undertone's CEO Mike Cassidy told me that Undertone has been fielding more calls from the agencies and Fortune 500 brands it serves who are interested in online video advertising as well. Mike believes that offering them an integrated approach between display and video so that they can buy, manage and measure their returns across formats will only become more important over time. So a key goal of the acquisition is to meld their publisher networks and and offer high quality reach for both display and video. Since display is more mature than video advertising, Mike also sees opportunities to leverage its underlying technology in areas like targeting.
Mike also noted that more brands want to extend their online presence beyond in-stream ads and are therefore creating their own "branded content." In this case, Jambo's video player technology and Jambocast distribution platform, which allow syndication, playback and measurement on third-party publisher sites, will let Undertone offer brands guaranteed distribution for the content they create, while augmenting those efforts with in-stream and display. I've frequently heard the inability to gain high-quality reach as a key pain point for branded content. As it has become more popular and companies like Jambo, 5Min, Grab Networks, ShareThrough, AlphaBird and others are each playing an important part in helping brands gain relevant audience reach.
This blending of syndication, branded content and in-stream presents a unique opportunity for the nascent online video medium vs. traditional TV advertising, which has been characterized by reach and frequency. In online video, brands have far greater creative freedom to engage audiences through multiple tools. Of course, this introduces new complexity on both the creative and media buying processes. The three recent deals are all meant to simplify the process for brands, creating partners to help fully capitalize on the new opportunities.
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