Ad Network Sells to Mail Marketer Valassis

Published on June 21, 2012
by Peter Kafka

VCs funded hundreds of ad networks in the last decade, and that’s probably a couple hundred too many. Now there’s one less: Five-year-old is being acquired by Valassis Communications, a 41-year-old company that specializes in direct mail.

A source familiar with the deal pegs the purchase price at less than $50 million; raised a reported $27 million, primarily from Interwest and Norwest Venture. I’ve asked both companies for comment.

Valassis has a very low profile in digital ads, but it’s a big deal in the old-media business of bundling ads and coupons into mailers and newspaper inserts. Last year it posted profits of $113 million on $2.2 billion in revenue.

It’s also relevant to News Corp. watchers, because Rupert Murdoch’s company paid Valassis $500 million in 2010 to settle unfair competition charges brought against a News Corp. unit. News Corp. also owns this Web site. was formed by former Yahoo executives Elizabeth Blair and Andy Atherton, who tried to position their network as a safe place for big consumer brands like Verizon and General Mills. Blair left her CEO spot earlier this year.

Update: Here’s the Valassis press release:

Valassis Audience Network Enhances Reach with Digital Acquisition Addition Marks Pivotal Step in Development of Valassis Digital Business

Livonia, Mich., June 21, 2012: Valassis (NYSE: VCI), one of the nation’s leading media and marketing services companies, today announced it has enhanced its digital display network – the Valassis Audience Network – with the acquisition of, an online display, video and mobile advertising platform. Combined with the Valassis Audience Network, the components of an expansive network of online and offline data, state-of-the-art ad serving and targeting technology, come together – Valassis is Re-Imagining Reach™.

With, the Valassis Audience Network now enables advertisers to reach and influence consumers on their journey from awareness to action with greater relevance, impact and results. Re-Imagining Reach highlights Valassis’ strength of reaching today’s diverse consumers at a scale and accuracy unmatched by others, getting the right message to the right consumer in the right medium at the right time.

“The traditional path to purchase was linear and brought the consumer from awareness to action one step at a time,” said Rob Mason, Valassis President and Chief Executive Officer. “Today, consumers are in control and their media habits are changing at a remarkable rate which means that clients need to use a mix of media to stay both visible and relevant. That’s where Valassis has a proprietary advantage – we deliver targeted, print and digital solutions to engage consumers at every point along the path to purchase.”

Whether marketers are interested in building awareness or driving purchase behavior, Valassis can meet their objectives by integrating their offline and online promotions. Valassis, with the addition of, offers advertisers the ability to uniquely combine targeting, insights and data to:

Reach their most relevant audiences at scale with the highest quality media;
Leverage SafeScreen™ technology ensuring their content will only be seen on sites that meet their criteria;
Stand out across high-impact environments such as display, video, mobile, and tablets; and
Achieve more consistent campaign results to drive ROI.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Revenant)

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