More consolidation in adtech as Outbrain buys Zemanta to build out programmatic native

The deal marks the fifth such acquisition from Outbrain

Outbrain has today (July 25) announced the purchase of Zemanta, a demand-side platform (DSP) specializing in native ad formats as the content-sharing network seeks to build out a full-stack offering, just weeks after it confirmed a round of lay-offs.

Financial details of the transaction were not publicly disclosed, but a release announcing the deal claimed that Zemanta’s One Native DSP will continue to operate as a standalone product after the acquisition, with its new status within the Outbrain-fold enabling it to accelerate its expansion program, with both parties having integrated their platforms since 2016.

Both outfits are headquartered in New York City. With the DSP helping brands and agencies access native ad inventory at scale, the acquisition is likely to give the outfit access to even more ad inventory, with Yaron Galai, Outbrain chief executive officer telling The Drum it would now be uniquely placed in the market.

“We’re creating a full marketplace for native in a way that has never been seen before,” he said, adding that there “are many more things we can do together now [post the purchase].”

Galai said the pairing will now be able to super-impose the Outbrain “interest graph”, ie a list of users’ interests, etc (Outbrain claims to reach circa 1 billion users each month) which can then be used to identify audiences across different inventory sources, equating to an “end-to-end native marketplace”, according to Galai.

The purchase amounts to the fifth such transaction in Outbrain’s history and comes a little over a month after it emerged that the Israel-based company - more commonly labeled as a content delivery network that integrates with publisher websites and then reroutes readers to sponsored stories - was to axe 4% of its headcount.

The company said the lay-offs were part of a refocus on automated media trading, rather than editorial tools, although it did not clarify what tools it was stepping back from. The revelation came just months after it cut a deal with AppNexus to launch Outbrain Programmatic Access (OPA) to allow users of the adtech outfit to access the content network’s inventory.

Galai declined to comment on the recent round of lay-offs, but commenting on the context of the latest acquisition (which comes amid a host of other mergers & acquisitions in the programmatic sector) he said: “It’s obvious the current LUMAscape [the industry’s default map of the landscape] is not sustainable.

“The way things are [the LUMAscpae currently consists of over 2,000 companies] doesn’t serve others [publishers and advertisers] well.”

Questioned as to the likelihood of more Outbrain M&A activity as part of its renewed ‘programmatic focus’ (the company brought its total funding to $45m a little over 12 months ago) Galai said he wouldn’t comment on any potential future deals.

“For a private company we’ve been pretty acquisitive,” he added.

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Ronan Shields

I'm the digital editor at The Drum, and cover adtech and martech. Prefer news and analysis, over opinion pieces. Current fascination(s) are blockchain and media futures trading; also curious about transhumanism on a personal basis. NYC-based, but really London Irish.

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