Tremor International (known as Taptica International until earlier this year) announced today it has bought UK-based video ad tech specialist Unruly from News Corp. News Corp in return will receive 6.91 percent of Tremor International stock (worth just over £15 million at the time of writing), alongside a total minimum revenue guarantee of £30 million through a new three-year partnership between the two companies.
Unruly has exclusive access to outstream video on News Corp titles which include The Times, The Sun and The Wall Street Journal), and also sells inventory for The Telegraph, Variety, and Vogue among others. This exclusive access for News Corp titles will transfer over to Tremor has part of the deal.
“With this deal, Unruly and the relationship with News Corp bolster Tremor International’s supply side platform, giving us a global footprint and allowing us to more rapidly take our recently acquired RhythmOne offering to an international market,” said Ofer Druker, CEO of Tremor International. Druker added that Unruly will bolster its presence in European and APAC markets in particular, and Tremor will run under the Unruly brand in some of these markets.
Norm Johnston, current CEO at Unruly, and Rebekah Brooks, UK CEO of News Corp, will both join Tremor International’s board of directors in the near future.
Unruly marks the second major acquisition for Tremor in less than a year, following its merger with RhythmOne last February in an all-stock deal worth £136 million. There is some crossover between Unruly and RhythmOne, as both run SSPs and exchanges, though RhythmOne has been more focussed on connected-TV in recent years.
The acquisition comes as Tremor positions itself first and foremost as a video advertising specialist. Ofer Druker said last year that the rebrand from Taptica International to Tremor International was designed to reflect this, as Tremor Video (a division within Tremor International) is an established video demand-side platform (DSP).
News Corp’s sale of Unruly comes at a large discount, as it originally bought the company for £114 million back in 2015. And it comes at a time when several media companies are shedding their ad tech properties. Last year US publisher Meredith sold its stake in demand-side platform Viant, while Altice has considered selling Teads, and RTL is reviewing its ownership of SpotX. The trend suggests that media companies are struggling to get much value out of their ad tech holdings.
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said “the sale of Unruly marks an important step in our strategy of simplification at News Corp, while we expect it to yield ongoing financial benefits. We look forward to partnering with Tremor and are grateful to Unruly and its truly talented team, who have helped our businesses in the U.K., US and Australia advance their digital advertising expertise.”
One of the big questions for Unruly following the sale is whether it will maintain its exclusive access to News Corp inventory beyond the scope of the current three year deal with Tremor. While News Corp will still have a slight financial incentive through its stake in Tremor, it may decide in the future to offer its inventory elsewhere too, now that it no longer owns unruly.