Opera Snaps Up 4th Screen and Mobile Theory for $26m

Opera Software is buying mobile ad agencies 4th Screen Advertising and Mobile Theory for a combined fee of $26m. Opera is paying $18 million for Mobile Theory, rising to a maximum $50m if earn-out targets are met. The company is paying $8m for 4th Screen, rising to a maximum $14.5m with earn-outs. 4th Screen recently retained its independent status, when Velti acquired its then-parent company Mobile Interactive Group (MIG) in November for $25m and 4th Screen was not included in the deal.

Opera says the acquisitions will significantly expand its offering to advertisers and mobile publishers that engage consumers via the mobile web and apps, across all mobile platforms. Opera offers complete advertising solutions for mass-market feature phone and smartphone platforms. Opera adds that the acquisitions will enable the firm to better monetize the traffic that flows through its Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers. Through these browsers, Opera serves more than 160m monthly active users that generate more than 100bn page views, and consume more than 16 Petabytes of mobile data services a month, as of December 2011.

The two ad networks are both at the premium end of the market, but complement each other geographically, with 4th Screen focused on the European market, based out of London, and Mobile Theory focused on the US market, based out of San Francisco, and with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.

“This is yet another important step in Opera’s quest to create even more economic value in the mobile ecosystem,” says Opera CEO, Lars Boilesen. “Two years ago, we announced the acquisition of AdMarvel – which has grown to become the global leader as a supply-side (publisher) platform for mobile advertising. Last year, Opera helped generate well over $200m in revenue for our publishers globally. Today, we are announcing the acquisition of two great demand-side platforms for mobile advertising. With these assets, and our very popular mobile browsers, Opera is uniquely positioned to deliver end-to-end mobile advertising solutions to brands, agencies, publishers and mobile operators across the globe.”


David Murphy writes:
After a few quiet months, it’s all kicking off again in the world of mobile advertising. Yesterday saw AdMob revise its bidding model, and Apple drop the price of iAd campaigns. But while the big two fight it out (with Google seemingly having the upper hand right now), today’s move from Opera shows that that the smaller players still have ambitions in the mobile advertising space. And as mobile advertising becomes a richer medium, as it undoubtedly has, the business case for a premium, as opposed to blind, mobile ad network, has arguably never looked stronger. All we need now is for Facebook to show its mobile advertising hand, and the party can really begin. Meanwhile, you have to wonder who the next name is on the mobile advertising shopping list.