Brand Networks Buys Optimal For $35 Million
Consolidation continues in the social-media marketing space with Brand Networks acquiring Optimal Inc. for $35 million. Both companies built their businesses around helping brands and marketers advertise and manage their presence on Facebook, but with somewhat different specialties.
Brand Networks, which boasts clients including American Express, Starbucks, Macy’s and Hotels.com, has focused on helping major retailers and chain restaurants market on Facebook at both the national and local level. That role was underscored by the $68 million investment Brand Networks landed in June from AEA Investors, which has strong ties to the retail and CPG industries.
Optimal, with clients such as Gucci, Sephora, JustFab and Gilt Groupe, has focused more on managing ad campaigns on Facebook platforms like the Facebook Exchange (FBX) and Custom Audiences platforms, as well as analytics and measurement. Both companies are part of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program, with Brand Networks one of about a dozen “strategic” PMDs.
Buying Optimal, however, helps Brand Networks bolster its social ad capabilities beyond Facebook. Optimal is among the only companies that is both a Twitter Ads API partner and qualified on FBX, as well as one of the first two partners on LinkedIn’s new Sponsored Updates ad platform.
Brand Networks also sees Optimal’s tools focused on self-serve, real-time bidding and analytics as complementary to its own Social Marketing Stack, which will incorporate the Optimal technology.
The Brand Networks/Optimal deal isn’t on the scale of Salesforce.com’s $736 million purchase of Buddy Media, or Oracle’s $300 million acquisition of Vitrue last year. But in announcing the transaction, Brand Networks CEO Jamie Tedford noted that growing consolidation among “fewer trusted partners” in the social marketing business was one of the factors behind the move.
Under their agreement, Optimal founder and CEO Rob Leathern will become chief product officer at Brand Networks and join the company’s board. Optimal’s San Francisco headquarters will serve as the hub of Boston-based Brand Networks’ West Coast operations. The companies will merge their New York presence into Brand Networks’ SoHo office.