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ValueClick Buys Into Mobile Ads

ValueClick Inc., one of the world’s largest online marketing companies, is positioning itself to snatch a piece of the growing mobile advertising market with its recent $70 million purchase of Greystripe Inc. Greystripe is a key player in the $1.1 billion mobile advertising market, which is expected to double by 2013. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company reaches over 30 million mobile device users through more than 3,500 mobile apps and websites. ValueClick officials and analysts say now that Greystripe is onboard, the company has solid in-roads to the branding side of the marketing business and the potential to grow along with the rapidly expanding mobile advertising market. “The mobile advertising is growing faster than online marketing,” said Gary J. Fuges, ValueClick’s vice president of corporate development and investor relations. ValueClick announced the acquisition on April 25. Greystripe will be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary and will maintain offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Seattle. As part of the deal, Greystripe’s CEO Michael Chang will report to ValueClick CEO Jim Zarley. ValueClick’s strategy is to leverage Greystripe – and its relationships with Fortune 500 advertisers – to become more heavily involved in branding advertisements, especially through mobile devices, Fuges said. “It gets us onto smartphones,” Fuges said, noting the company’s offerings historically have been focused on personal computer users. Shipments of smartphones surpassed shipments of personal computers in the fourth quarter of last year for the first time ever, according to International Data Corp., which tracks the information worldwide. An estimated 101 million smartphones were shipped compared to 92 million PCs, IDC reported. ValueClick has dabbled a bit in the mobile advertising market, Fuges said, but Greystripe will immediately grow the company’s presence in a market sector where the payoff has the potential to be big. Plus, Greystripe is a good “cultural fit” with ValueClick, Fuges said. Acquiring Greystripe was the right move at the right time, said analyst Sameet Sinha for B. Riley, a Southern California research, trading and investment-banking firm. There is the understanding that the acquisition will help ValueClick develop relationships with major brand advertisers, he said. “It is adding onto their value proposition in an extremely fast-growing market,” Sinha said. For first-quarter ended March 31, ValueClick reported net earnings of $20.9 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $21.2 million or $0.25 per diluted share. The company reported total revenues of $116.5 million in the first quarter, compared to $96.8 million for the same period last year.

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