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News Corp buys Unruly ad platform

News Corp has agreed to acquire Unruly Holdings Limited, owner of a leading global ad platform managing digital and social video advertising for clients around the world, for up to €156 million.

Led by Unruly’s three co-founders, it will operate as a separate business unit, reporting to Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News UK. Unruly will continue to work with its existing roster of global advertisers and publishers and collaborate with News Corp businesses around the world.

“Unruly is a feisty and creative company with a start-up sensibility that fits perfectly with our own approach to developing businesses in the digital age. The acquisition will serve as a catalyst for our brands, helping to extend our expertise in the digital and mobile video area, whether through the fast-growing realtor.com in the US, Fox Sports in Australia, News America Marketing, HarperCollins Publishers, or our market-leading mastheads around the world. Unruly complements our traditional editorial and commercial expertise with contemporary insight into how people read, watch, buy and sell in the digital era,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.

“We have always been pioneers in our field, so combining the formidable reach and resonance of our titles with their cutting-edge technology and video expertise will help accelerate our growth in this digital age,” said Brooks. “We look forward to working with one of Europe’s most highly regarded tech teams to create new premium video inventory for our News UK mastheads and other businesses, and to provide advertisers with best-in-class brand solutions across all platforms.”

Founded in 2006, Unruly is a video distribution platform and a pioneer in tracking video sharing and delivering verifiable video views via paid media across mobile, desktop and tablet devices. With its powerful data set of 2 trillion video views and sophisticated targeting capabilities, the company uses historical sharing behaviour to predict the potential for video ads to go viral across all digital touch points.

In the coming months, News Corp business units will begin to offer Unruly products to their advertising and agency partners. This will mean a significant increase in premium video and mobile inventory, a stronger content marketing offering and, ultimately, improved returns for News Corp’s advertisers. Unruly’s platform has attracted top tier advertisers, including such brands as adidas, Dove, T-Mobile, Evian and Renault.

The expected purchase price for the acquisition consists of a cash payment at closing of £58 million (€79 million), subject to certain adjustments, and up to £56 million in future consideration primarily related to payments contingent upon the achievement of certain performance objectives. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed by the end of September.

“We are absolutely delighted to join the News Corp family, and connect our scaled distribution, social data, and content optimization tools with the premium ad inventory of News Corp businesses, and their highly-engaged audiences,” said Unruly co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Scott Button. “It’s a tremendous milestone and an exciting new chapter for the whole Unruly team.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the passion and dedication of the whole Unruly team that has today resulted in this phenomenal opportunity for the business,” said Unruly co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Sarah Wood. “Unruly’s enthusiasm for transforming video advertising and our agile development culture will continue to drive our innovative approach towards digital marketing as we help advertisers reconnect with consumers and future-proof their video strategy.”
Unruly’s third co-founder is Chief Technology Officer Matt Cooke.
Since 2012, Unruly has benefited from the investment and support of Amadeus Capital Partners, Endeit Capital and BGF (Business Growth Fund). LUMA Partners acted as financial adviser to Unruly Holdings Limited.

Unruly employs 200 people in 15 offices, and regional hubs in London, New York and Singapore. Its primary base will remain in Shoreditch, the East London neighbourhood where its Social Video Lab is housed.

Unruly was selected as one of Tech City UK’s high-growth Future Fifty companies. Tech City UK is a non-profit launched by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 to encourage the creation and growth of tech scale-ups in Shoreditch and beyond. CEO of Tech City UK, Gerard Grech, said: “Unruly is one of the great success stories of the UK’s digital economy, scaling globally from the capital. A world leader in advertising technology, Unruly has also made invaluable contributions to the startup ecosystem, especially through its support of the Digital Business Academy and its commitment to digital education with City Unrulyversity. Today’s announcement is further testament to the UK’s ability to produce digital disrupters that not only create jobs but change traditional industries and reach multi-million pound valuations along their growth journey.”

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