AOL Adopts Adap.TV, $405 Million Acquisition Completes Its Video Stack

On a day when one online video ad network (YuMe) is expected to go public, and a day before another (Tremor Video) reports its first earnings as a publicly traded company, a third, Adap.TV, announced it has been sold to one of the big portals, AOL. While all three deals are seen by the investment community as forms of “exits” by antsy early round investors, only Adap.TV managed to find a so-called “strategic” buyer, suggesting that AOL sees something in its long-term value that makes it worth the $405 million it agreed to pay in cash ($322 million) and AOL stock ($83 million).

That values Adap.TV a little higher than Tremor Video, which went public June 27th, and currently has a stock market capitalization worth $397.36 million, based on Tuesday’s closing price of $8.04 per share. Tremor’s shares are down about 25% from their initial IPO pricing of $10.

YuMe has hoped to price its IPO at between $12 and $13 per share, but is now expected to begin trading this morning at $9 a share, giving it a market value of about $380 million -- but at least YuMe generated a profit last year. Tremor reported an operating loss of $16 million for 2012, the first full year before it went public.

“It was amazing that they were able to get out on those numbers, frankly,” Don Chen, managing director of Siemer and Associates, told attendees during a recent presentation on the market valuations of advertising technology companies at the OMMA DDM conference in Los Angeles on July 24th. Chen said the move by online video networks to go public was a sign that they could not find strategic buyers, and that they were simply going to a source of last resort to find “liquidity” for their early investors.

“They’re just too big a number for a strategic investor,” Chen said.

Apparently, AOL did not think so. But it has already invested deeply in an array of advertising technology companies, and implied in this morning’s announcement that Adap.TV is the final component that would solidify its “video stack,” “end-to-end,” making it a “leading programmatic video platform,” working on more than 26,000 global ad campaigns acorss 9,500 Web sites.

“AOL has invested heavily in the digital video space by focusing exclusively on premium content and premium publishers,” AOL boasts in its deal announcement. “This investment has propelled the AOL On Network to No. 2 in monthly content video views in the U.S. for nine of the last 12 months.”

"Two trends are prevalent in the video space right now,” adds CEO Tim Armstrong, “the movement from linear television to online video and the shift from manual transactions to programmatic media buying. is positioned squarely in front of the huge opportunity these trends are presenting.”The companies said will operate independently as part of AOL's video organization which will continue to be led by Senior Vice President-Video Ran Harnevo. It will be part of the company’s overall AOL Networks portfolio, operating alongside conventional ad network, The AOL On Network, Be On, ADTECH and Pictela.

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