Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ad Networks Pair Up: Specific Media Buys BBE

Ad network Specific Media has just gotten a lot bigger: It has picked up ad network BBE, according to people familiar with the transaction.

We’ll see more of this over time, as the overstuffed ad network industry consolidates, and this one makes some sense on paper: BBE, formerly known as Broadband Enterprises, specializes in video ads, and Specific doesn’t have any video business at all.

I don’t have a price for the deal, though industry observers guesstimate that BBE might go for something in the $65 million to $85 million range.

I’ve asked officials at both companies for comment, but the best I’ve been able to do is get Specific Media co-founder and SVP Russell Vanderhook on the phone. He told me he was “not the one to speak to about that” and promised to pass my message on to his brother Tim Vanderhook, who is CEO. (There’s a third Vanderhook at Specific, too: Chris, who is COO).

BBE is one of the biggest ad networks in the world, at least by comScore’s measurement: It says the company’s ads reach 192.8 million unique visitors per month, enough to earn it the No. 6 slot.

By comparison, comScore pegs Yahoo’s ad network at 185 million, AOL at 183.6 million and Google at 181.5 million. And the measurement company says Specific Media reaches 158.6 million, which puts it in 22nd place. [UPDATE: The BBE number that comScore provides is for "potential reach," which is awfully theoretical, while the other network data represents a "real" audience. Thanks to Tod M. Sacerdoti, who runs BBE competitor BrightRoll, for catching my mistake.]

Specific is getting more than an ad network with BBE. The company runs its own video ad-serving arm, which industry observers tell me has been performing quite well.

BBE raised $10 million in 2008 from Velocity Interactive Group, now known as Fuse Capital. Specific has raised a reported $110 million since 2006.

[Image credit: Steve aka Crispin Swan]


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik