Cox Merges Adify With Digital Sales Arm
Aiming to reduce redundancy and offer more integrated online ad services, Cox Media Group said Tuesday it will merge its Cox Cross Media and Adify units to form Cox Digital Solutions. The new company will be led by Cox Cross Media head Steve Shaw and promises to facilitate online buys across Cox Media properties and third-party niche content networks.
Adify, which helps publishers build vertical networks and serves ads across the 180 networks it powers, was acquired by parent Cox Enterprises in 2008 for $300 million. The move has helped Cox expand its online ad operations and create vertical networks around its own properties, which include newspapers and radio and TV stations as well as related Web sites.
In 2009, for instance, Cox used Adify to build an auto-related ad network around its AutoTrader.com brand. Now the company will tie the Adify platform more tightly into its own digital ad operations to offer agencies and advertisers more efficient placement across its 1,300 local media sites in 145 markets as well as national reach through the more than 7,000 specialty publishers it works with. That adds up to traffic of about 135 million unique visitors a month, according to Cox.
"There was just a lot of redundancy between [Adify and Cox Cross Media] and this was a huge opportunity for us to put these two things together to deliver solutions for agencies that they couldn't do on their own," said Shaw, who said the Adify name will be phased out as part of the creation of Cox Digital Solutions.
He added that the new unit would combine the ad technology of Cox and Adify to provide a complete ad system, from creating RFPs to handling order flow management to ad-serving and invoicing. It will also have a sales staff of 25 in 10 locations across the country to work directly with agencies and marketers. The group can also work with Cox reps on the TV side to develop integrated campaigns across TV, mobile and digital, according to Shaw.
In one test of the combined approach last fall, the company developed a national campaign for a cruise line advertiser that also targeted eight key markets where most of the company's customers come from via local weather sites. "That's one example of how the blending of content allows us to do some neat things," he said.
While Shaw would not discuss actual revenue figures, he said both Cox Cross Media and Adify had doubled sales in each of the last two years. "We expect the combination will provide and opportunity to grow even faster," he said. And while the move led to some staff reduction initially, Shaw noted that the merged unit is now hiring again in sales and for technology-related positions.