Commentary

Sovrn To Boost Publisher Options After Raising $25 Million

Ad tech firm Sovrn announced last week it had completed a $25 million Series round of funding. It expects to use the new funds to add services via the acquisition of companies outside the ad-tech world.

In an AdExchanger story,Sovrn CEO Walter Knapp said he hopes to acquire at least one new company this year, and ultimately two, to enhance the types of tools it can offer to publishers. 

Interestingly, part of Sovrn’s plan is to decrease the advertising portion of its business. According to Knapp, the company has been slowly moving away from advertising by design. Per the report, the company’s ad exchange accounts for less than 60% of its total business, and Knapp expects that number to dip lower.

Instead, the company wants to focus on “more durable subscription-based business relationships with publishers,” offering up Wix, GoDaddy, Microsoft and Adobe as examples.

"The Sovrn business is focused on tools and technologies for publishers. Our mission is to help publishers do more of what they love and less of what they don’t,” Knapp told Publishing Insider.

“That hasn’t changed since we launched Sovrn in 2014. Over the last six months, we’ve been looking to acquire additional products that solve important problems for our publisher customers. We aim to augment our advertising offering by becoming a durable tools platform for content creators.”

Through its acquisitions, the company wants to create or enhance five areas that will benefit publishers. They include content creation and distribution, monetization, operations and capital.

Sovrn’s new direction will be aimed at mid-level publishers; it adds to an existing portfolio of services. For example, the company currently works with publishers to tap into audiences across social media, Apple News, AMP and Facebook Instant Articles.

The new tools will specifically backup Sovrn’s payment and data programs, the former helps publishers monitor revenue and the latter allows publishers to compare its revenue to competitors.

Sovrn has been working to help publishers find their footing in the digital world. The new influx of cash doesn’t signal an entirely new direction for the company, but rather shows a need for all entities outside of the duopoly to find ways to increase monetization and deeper and diversify revenue streams to survive: Look to Vox Media or The Washington Post, both now licensing software for website creation.

Vox Media has also thrown in access to its proprietary digital advertising marketplace as an option for licensees. 

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