News Corp to sell Unruly to Tremor for a song and a board seat

  •   January 6, 2020

Israeli video ad tech firm Tremor International Ltd. has agreed to buy Unruly from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the company’s announced Monday. The deal for the video advertising platform comes at a deep discount from what News Corp paid in 2015.

Why we should care

The sale highlights a couple of trends in ad tech. One is ad tech consolidation. Another is the dashed hopes of media companies aiming to realize market share gains over the likes of Facebook and Google by acquiring high-priced but unprofitable ad tech startups.

The Unruly sale “marks an important step in our strategy of simplification.” News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said in a statement.

News Corp acquired Unruly in 2015 for a reported $90 million in cash with the aim of propelling the traditional publisher’s digital video ad business. “Unruly is a feisty and creative company with a start-up sensibility,” News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said at the time. Five years later, News Corp is offloading the unprofitable business for a small stake (6.91%) in Tremor and a board seat for News Corps’s Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun and News of the World editor who stepped down from the company in the phone-hacking scandal of 2011 and rejoined News Corp as UK CEO four years ago. She is expected to join the Tremor board along with Unruly CEO Norm Johnston. The deal puts News Corp’s stake at around just $25 million based on Tremor’s market capitalization of $363 million, according to Sky News.

Tremor will be the exclusive seller of outstream video on News Corp’s more than 50 digital publications in the U.K., U.S. and Australia and will commit to spending $39 million on ads with News Corp over a three-year period, per the deal. Unruly also has more than 2,000 publisher integrations and partnerships with large advertisers, the company said.

More on the news

  • Tremor, which changed its name from Taptica in April 2019 (adopting the brand name of its Tremor Video DSP subsidiary, acquired in 2017) will gain access to markets in the E.U and APAC, operating under the Unruly brand. Tremor also acquired RhythmOne, which specializes in programmatic connected TV media, in a stock deal valued at $176 million last February.
  • “Unruly will benefit from Tremor’s wide range of formats, including advanced TV and In-App, as well as an analytics suite and yield optimisation tools,” said Johnston said in a statement.
  • “With this deal, Unruly and the relationship with News Corp bolster Tremor International’s supply side platform, giving us a global footprint and allowing us to more rapidly take our recently acquired RhythmOne offering to an international market,” said Ofer Druker, CEO of Tremor International.