It’s been a wild 10 years at AdColony, and we couldn’t fit it all in one post! Last we left off, AdColony had just hit over 1 BILLION views across the platform (we now do that in about 10 days!) and that was only 3 years after a little mobile games company called Jirbo made the decision to pivot to an ad network. Big things were coming.
Don’t forget to scroll down to see an animated timeline of this era in AdColony’s history!
Acquisition: Opera Buys AdColony for $350 Million
This raging success attracted the attention of many larger companies in the ad tech space, which was undergoing consolidation at the time. (Though, when is it not?)
Ironically, it was a browser company that ended up buying AdColony, the Norwegian maker of web-browsing software Opera. The total purchase price was $350 million – $75M in cash plus earn-out payments of up to $275M. As a result, much of AdColony’s senior leadership stayed on to continue ensuring the success of the mobile video ad network, which was rebranded and folded into a larger Opera Mediaworks adtech pool with other advertising-focused Opera acquisitions.
The March into Programmatic: The Future of How Media is Bought & Sold
The years that followed marked growth in areas that were of the highest demand in ad tech: programmatic and creativity. In 2015, programmatic was the “it” word as brands and agencies looked to buy audiences with advanced automation and real-time bidding options.
Projections put the $14.2 billion global programmatic spend of 2015 as doubling or even tripling within a few years. Marketers noted that it was really “the third inning of programmatic,” and they were right. Currently (2020) programmatic is at $79 billion and accounts for 85% of digital display ad dollars! The bet that AdColony hedged to commit fully to programmatic was the right one to make. Today, programmatic accounts for 65% of the business, with a team of dozens of talented programmatic professionals.
Award-Winning Creativity: Now Back Under the AdColony Name
At the same time, the mobile ad industry was also experiencing a renaissance of art, so to speak. With the influx of new ad formats that leveraged smartphone’s native features, such as haptic effects, creative studios had a field day coming up with new ways to engage users (e.g., shaking the phone to simulate making a Stoli martini) and, in turn, win awards.
In 2016 alone, Opera Mediaworks won more than 40 awards for its creative work across the globe. One example of creative innovation during this period was an ad for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales that took users on a virtual treasure hunt. Engagement rates were 46X higher than competitor’s benchmarks, 3X higher than Moat industry benchmarks for viewable completion rates, and 2X higher than viewability rates.
By that time (2017), however, the awards it was winning were back the name of AdColony. Opera’s browser business had been acquired by a Chinese consortium of companies, and as part of the deal, they retained the Opera name and brand.
The remaining holding company changed its name to Otello, and the mobile ad division (brand, performance, and publishing businesses) needed a new name. AdColony was the obvious choice, due to the positive reputation it had gained in the early years and its strong connection to the community of mobile gaming developers.
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