Facebook Buys LiveRail, Expands Web Reach

Expanding its video advertising operations, Facebook has agreed to buy LiveRail, a video advertising supply-side platform (SSP). LiveRail helps publishers serve better video ads, while ensuring that marketers find quality placement for their ads.
 
Founded in 2007, LiveRail currently claims 170 employees, and the delivery of roughly 7 billion ad impressions a month. Notable clients include Major League Baseball, A&E Networks, Gannett and Dailymotion.
 
“We believe that LiveRail, Facebook and the premium publishers it serves have an opportunity to make video ads better and more relevant,” Brian Boland, vice president of ads product marketing and Atlas, explained in a blog post.
 
Fueled by the continued growth in programmatic video advertising, LiveRail was widely expected to pursue a public offering this year. Speaking with MediaPost’s RTBlog late last year, LiveRail co-founder and CEO Mark Trefgarne was open about the company’s IPO ambitions.
 
It is possible, however, that increasing competition led LiveRail into Facebook’s arms. Google, for example, recently launched a premium video ad-buying platform, Google Partner Select, which directly challenges LiveRail, BrightRoll and a number of other video exchanges.
 
Facebook only began testing video ads with a small set of brands earlier this year. The company introduced the 15-second video ads -- which play automatically in users’ news feeds with the sound muted until clicked on -- in March to a handful of marketers, including Progressive Corp and NBC Universal.
 
The LiveRail deal is also part of a broader effort by Facebook to expand its Web-wide reach and follows its recent foray into “audience-buying” with the launch of FAN, the Facebook Audience Network.
 
Industry insiders said the deal makes a ton of sense for Facebook. “First with FAN and now with this move, Facebook is demonstrating that its user data can be a powerful key to expanding its business outside its own platform to help drive advertising dollars -- potentially from TV in this case -- to the digital market,” said Neal Modi, vice president of revenue and operations at brand advertising platform Kargo.
 
Facebook bought Atlas from Microsoft, last year. Since then, the social giant has bolstered the ad management and measurement unit through additional investment and partnerships.
 
In March, the Atlas team announced two partnerships -- one with rich media platform Flite, and another with video ad platform provider Innovid. The addition of Innovid’s ad platform was expected to make static video ads more engaging, while making that engagement easier to measure in terms of awareness and time spent.

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