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Tapad sells to Norwegian telco Telenor for $360m


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

February 1, 2016 | 3 min read

Telenor - a Norway-based telecoms outfit with interests across Europe and Asia - is the latest operator to buy its way into the ad tech space, purchasing 95 per cent of Tapad, a US-based company specialising in mobile advertising.

The deal was priced at $360m and will see Tapad, a firm that helps advertisers with cross-device attribution, remain a stand-alone entity within the Telenor-fold, with the pairing geared towards scaling the ad tech outfit’s global presence.

Are Traasdahl, Tapad CEO, and his Norwegian co-founder, Dag Liodden, have together retained a 5 per cent stake in Tapad, with Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke claiming the deal will improve its understanding of its customer behaviour, plus help it build-out new aspects of the business.

The deal is the latest example of mobile operators acquiring ad tech businesses - Verizon Wireless’ $4.4bn purchase of AOL last year is arguably the most notable transaction of this trend - as telecoms outfits increasingly seek to diversify their revenue streams.

“With the acquisition of Tapad, Telenor Group is taking a position within the rapidly growing market for advertising technology, and securing important competence within digital marketing and analytics. I believe significant value can be created from applying marketing technology to improve the digital capabilities of our core telecom business,” he said.

Tapad was founded to help advertisers trace their customers’ journeys to their online properties across multiple devices, using a combination of both probabilistic plus deterministic data. The New York-based firm claims to work with over 160 of the top US brands and is expected to report revenues of over $57m for 2015.

In the era when mobile operators are increasingly under pressure to find new revenues streams, the option of converting their vast swathes of behavioural data into consumer insights, and then making these available to advertisers, is increasingly a popular option.

The deal builds on earlier purchases by Telenor, which has previously taken positions within new digital business areas within the Internet of Things (IoT), online classified advertising and financial services.

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