Peter Kafka

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Adobe Moves Deeper Into the Ad Business

Adobe is the company that powers much of the digital publishing world, and it’s also the company behind Flash, the Web video standard. And it’s also the company that’s quietly positioning itself to become a major player in Web advertising.

Adobe isn’t beating the drum about its intentions, but it’s also quite clear about them: The company figures that it already has deep relationships with lots of Web publishers, and that the logical way to extend its business is to help them sell ads, too.

Monday night’s announcement that the company had purchased Auditude, a video ad-serving start-up, is the most recent not-very-subtle hint about where Adobe is going. People familiar with the transaction say Adobe spent around $120 million on the purchase.

That’s about double the reported price tag for Demdex, the “data management platform” Adobe bought in January. Adobe kicked off its advertising M&A plans back in 2009, when it dropped $1.8 billion on Omniture, the traffic tracker that dominates Web publishing.

And it’s a good bet that Adobe’s not done buying.

Last year, the company tried to buy Invite Media, a “demand side platform” that helps advertisers navigate big data exchanges, but lost that deal to Google. On a call this afternoon, Adobe executive Todd Teresi wouldn’t tell me that Adobe was interested in buying another DSP — there are plenty out there — but he did say that his company plans to either build or buy something that will give it the same capabilities.

And if Adobe would like to pick up any other pieces of the ad tech “stack” — the dizzying array of companies that try to insert themselves between advertisers and publishers — it has plenty of other options. And bankers willing to help.

[Image credit: Rafal Olechowski/Shutterstock.]

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