News Corp offloads Unruly to Tremor International

Tremor International CEO, Ofer Druker
Druker: “Transaction is another important milestone in Tremor’s transformation into a leading video advertising business”

News Corp is to offload video advertising platform Unruly to Tremor International for substantially less than the £58m it reportedly paid to acquire it in 2015, according to Sky News.

In its own announcement of the deal, Tremor said that in return for the business, News Corp will be issued with 6.91 per cent of Tremor International’s stock, subject to an 18-month lockup period. Tremor has also entered into a global partnership with News Corp that will give Tremor with the exclusive rights to sell outstream video on more than 50 News Corp titles in the UK, US and Australia. Under the terms of the Transaction, Tremor International has committed to an ad spend of £30 million with News Corp over a three-year period. News Corp has also agreed to contribute cash towards the cost of integrating Unruly with the company.

It also confirmed that Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, the News Corp subsidiary which publishes The Times and The Sun, will join the board of Tremor as a non-executive director. Norman Johnston, CEO of Unruly, will also join Tremor’s board.

Tremor said the deal is directly in-line with the company’s three-pillared strategy to grow by leveraging video, data and Connected TV (CTV). It said the acquisition will significantly extend its international footprint, and present an opportunity to accelerate the global roll-out of Tremor’s recently acquired RhythmOne assets, while adding an additional 1.2bn unique monthly users through premium publisher partnerships across the US, Europe and APAC.

“This transaction is another important milestone in Tremor’s transformation into a leading video advertising business,” said Tremor CEO, Ofer Druker. “We are delighted to be acquiring a truly world class asset in Unruly, but equally important is the formation of our new strategic alliance with News Corp, which will provide Tremor access to globally recognised media brands, in a partnership we believe to be mutually beneficial for both companies.

“In addition, not only does this transaction deliver a number of commercial opportunities for the Company, but it is a significant endorsement of Tremor as a business, given the reputation of News Corp globally.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said: “The sale of Unruly marks an important step in our strategy of simplification at News Corp, while we expect it to yield ongoing financial benefits. We look forward to partnering with Tremor and are grateful to Unruly and its truly talented team, who have helped our businesses in the UK, US and Australia advance their digital advertising expertise.”

Alex Rahaman, chairman of creative management platform Nexd, said the deal is not a major surprise. He said: “I think NewsUK were hoping to bring transferrable programmatic and digital video expertise into the business with the acquisition of Unruly. Unruly is a very successful ad network working on high margins in a very efficient way. But Unruly wasn’t built to consult with or transfer skills to much larger corporates and I think there was left the feeling that what they bought wasn’t quite what they hoped for. So it is no surprise they will spin it out to a much closer fit business in Tremor.”

Another ad tech industry veteran said the deal looks better for Tremor than for Unruly. He said: “This seems like a good deal for Tremor and not necessarily for Unruly. I suspect Unruly were trying to make the transition from an IO (insertion order)-based business to a programmatic exchange model and that needs quite a lot of investment. News were probably happy to take the cash and get a loss-making business off their hands.”