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19 August 2021

Integral Ad Science leverages Publica in CTV conquest

Less than two months after going public, ad verification specialist Integral Ad Science (IAS) has acquired connected TV ad vendor Publica for $220 million. IAS is hoping the acquisition will expand its relationships with CTV publishers, with Publica holding the likes of ViacomCBS, Fox and Philo as clients.

IAS historically worked in display advertising, ensuring that web ads were verified as viewable and brand safe, but video is clearly now high on the agenda. IAS feels that CTV viewership and programmatic advertising are shooting up and is hoping that Publica will allow it to latch onto this growth and capitalize on the market.

IAS has acquired Publica for both its CTV technology platform and its proprietary data assets, with the Publica brand set to become part of IAS’s product portfolio. Publica connects SSPs to unique CTV inventory via its ad server, unified auction, and frequency capping technologies.

IAS’s CTV offerings will now host Publica’s unified auction, OTT header bidding for programmatic buying, audience management, campaign management, server-side ad insertion (SSAI), ad pod automation, and advanced analytics.

Lisa Utzschneider, CEO of IAS, says that Publica will remain a standalone entity for the foreseeable future, but integration is not out of the question further down the line. IAS also plans to introduce a comprehensive brand safety and suitability solution for CTV advertisers and publishers in the coming months, bolstered by Publica’s existing platform and CTV content data.

Publica recently reported that publishers using its platform have seen on average a 30% lift in yield for their CTV inventory. The platform delivers over 3 billion ads to CTVs each month.

On the investor call, Utzschneider was keen to highlight the “tremendous opportunity” posed by CTV, claiming that consumer time spent on OTT devices rose 34% over 2020 to 77 minutes daily, while 90% of CTV users in the US watch some form of AVoD.

Already, IAS offers the industry’s first CTV verification solution for global invalid traffic (IVT) and viewability across programmatic and direct buying on all apps and providers.

In Publica, IAS sees both sell side and buy side synergies that will advance IAS’s position in the CTV market. Utzschneider was particularly taken by Publica’s unified auction ad server, as well as its pre-existing strategic relationships with video publishers and many of the leading SSPs has accelerated IAS’s entry into the CTV space.

Publica’s list of publishers includes Crunchyroll, E. W. Scripps, Fox, IGN, MLB, Philo, Samsung, ViacomCBS and Xumo.

Looking forward, Utzschneider said that IAS will be working to provide ad measurement and fraud protection tools, as well as brand safety controls.

“It’s early innings in CTV for all verification providers, but Publica really enhances our standing in the market,” said Utzschneider. IAS’s CTV revenue for Q2 has grown 404% YoY, although this impressive number is largely due to the miniscule base of revenue in Q2 2020.

IAS was founded in New York in 2009 and was acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2018. The company went public just two months ago, when it put over 17 million shares up for offer at $18 apiece.

IAS’ Q2 revenue was up 55% YoY to $75 million. Aside from being the fastest growing region, the Americas currently make up the lion’s share of IAS’s revenue, at $45 million. EMEA operations brought in $22 million, while the remaining $8 million in revenues came from APAC, its slowest growing region.

IAS is anticipating a revenue contribution of $3 million from Publica in Q3, growing to an additional $7 million in revenue in Q4.

IAS say that there should be no hiccups following the acquisition with regards to cross selling, as Publica and IAS’s customer bases have little overlap. IAS mainly serves marketers, while Publica serves publishers.