Link to original article on WSJ

Digital ad buying and optimization firm MediaMath announced Thursday it has agreed to acquire UK-based social advertising firm Upcast. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Upcast’s technology allows marketers to buy ads across social sites such as Facebook and Twitter in an automated fashion, and adds capabilities that MediaMath’s suite of ad tools did not offer previously.

“Our mission is to assemble a full end-to-end stack for advertisers – one single platform that allows them to access media across channels,” said MediaMath COO, Ari Buchalter. “Facebook [and other social sites] represent a large and growing share of consumer attention, so this was critical piece to add,” he explained.

The acquisition will enable MediaMath to purchase online ads using application programming interfaces, or “APIs.” It’s a method of automated ad buying that MediaMath didn’t previously offer its clients.

“It makes sure we have the ability to access any partner’s inventory regardless of how they make it available,” said MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki.

Mr. Zawadzki said MediaMath was specifically interested in acquiring Upcast to plug that API gap because of its focus on technology. It operates as a software-as-a-service company as opposed to a services-based one, he said.

MediaMath considered building its own social ad buying technology in-house instead of making an acquisition, Mr. Buchalter said, but decided instead that an acquisition would allow it to offer the functionality to its clients quicker.

“We felt the scale of the opportunity was such that we didn’t want to start from scratch with development and learning, but to leapfrog to the best in class,” Mr. Buchalter explained.

Initially the Upcast brand will be retained but will likely be phased out as its technology is integrated with MediaMath’s other products, the company said.

Meanwhile, MediaMath said it plans to continue its strategy of acquiring ad tech companies to add new capabilities to its platform.

“We’ve had success with the acquisition strategy so far,” Mr. Zawadzki concluded. “Clients see the benefit of the approach – you can go from not having a solution to having a best-in-class one in one fell swoop.”