News Corp gets Unruly

News Corp has agreed to acquire Unruly Holdings Limited (“Unruly”), a global ad platform that focuses on digital and social video advertising for clients.

The expected purchase price for the acquisition consists of a cash payment at closing of £58 million (approximately US$90 million), subject to certain adjustments, and up to £56 million (approximately US$86 million) in future consideration primarily related to payments contingent upon the achievement of certain performance objectives. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Founded in 2006, Unruly is a video distribution platform and a leading player in tracking video sharing and delivering verifiable video views via paid media across mobile, desktop and tablet devices. With its data set of 2 trillion video views and sophisticated targeting capabilities, the company uses historical sharing behavior to predict the potential for video ads to go viral across all digital touch points.

Unruly employs 200 people in 15 offices, and regional hubs in London, New York and Singapore. Its primary base will remain in Shoreditch, the East London neighbourhood where its Social Video Lab is housed.

Led by Unruly’s three co-founders, the entity will operate as a separate business unit, reporting to Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of news UK. Unruly will continue to work with its existing roster of global advertisers and publishers and collaborate with News Corp businesses around the world.

“We have always been pioneers in our field, so combining the formidable reach and resonance of our titles with their cutting-edge technology and video expertise will help accelerate our growth in this digital age,” said Brooks.

“We look forward to working with one of Europe’s most highly regarded tech teams to create new premium video inventory for our News UK mastheads and other businesses, and to provide advertisers with best-in-class brand solutions across all platforms.”

“Unruly is a feisty and creative company with a start-up sensibility that fits perfectly with our own approach to developing businesses in the digital age. The acquisition will serve as a catalyst for our brands, helping to extend our expertise in the digital and mobile video area, whether through the fast-growing in the US, Fox Sports in Australia, News America Marketing, HarperCollins Publishers, or our market-leading mastheads around the world. Unruly complements our traditional editorial and commercial expertise with contemporary insight into how people read, watch, buy and sell in the digital era,” Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp said.

Unruly’s suite of advertising products includes:

  • ShareRank – proprietary technology that is able to predict the virality of videos across social and digital media. ShareRank can also inform the changes that need to be made to video content in order to improve the number of times a video is viewed, liked and shared.
  • In-Feed advertising – a mobile-first, video ad format that dynamically adapts to the unique look and feel of news feed formats. Leveraging Unruly’s ViewPlay technology, the ad plays 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.

In the coming months, News Corp business units will begin to offer Unruly products to their advertising and agency partners. This 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. Unruly’s platform has attracted top tier advertisers, including such brands as adidas, Dove, T-Mobile, Evian and Renault.

“We are incredibly grateful for the passion and dedication of the whole Unruly team that has today resulted in this phenomenal opportunity for the business,” said Unruly co-founder and co-chief executive officer Sarah Wood.

Since 2012, Unruly has benefited from the investment and support of Amadeus Capital Partners, Endeit Capital and BGF (Business Growth Fund). LUMA Partners acted as financial adviser to Unruly Holdings Limited.

Other significant acquisitions made by News Corp in the technology field include Storyful, the world’s first video news agency, which authenticates and widely distributes video content for partners like Facebook, Vice and YouTube, and Checkout 51, a mobile savings app acquired by News America Marketing. News Corp also has a stake in the Rubicon Project [NASDAQ: RUBI], a leading technology company that automates the buying and selling of advertising through use of real-time cloud and big data computing systems.

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