Glam Media Buys Ad Tech Startup AdPortal

Female-focused blog network Glam Media is buying ad technology startup AdPortal, in order to boost the GlamAdapt ad serving platform it launched in June.

AdPortal’s technology packages under-utilized ad inventory into “audiences and categories in unique ways,” so that publishers can maximize ad sales. Several major publishers, including CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) and Time (NYSE: TWX), use it to run self-service ad sales portals, which let advertisers purchase ad inventory on their sites by audience and geography, among other categories.

In a release, Glam Media says it will integrate AdPortal’s technology into GlamAdapt, which it says has been used by more than 500 brand advertisers since launch. AdPortal CEO Robert Tas is joining Glam Media as VP of the GlamAdapt platform, and the startup’s San Francisco-based employees are joining Glam’s ad products team.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced. AdPortal was spun off from online sports ad network Sportgenic in March. It had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from investors including SoftTechVC and Greycroft Partners.

Some more details in this AdPortal announcement here.

David adds: AdPortal is a nice complement to what Glam has already started doing with GlamAdapt in promising advertisers the ability better target “micro-audiences” within smaller niche websites. With AdPortal, Glam believes it can cover the audiences within the larger, more mass market sites. The acquisition also goes towards Glam’s wider goal of attracting more brand dollars from display.

In an interview with paidContent, lam CEO Samir Arora said that acquisition of AdPortal goes a little deeper than that. He explained the rationale of why the company built GlamAdapt as a reflection of its need to maintain its growth by not having to rely too heavily on an outside entity like Google’s DoubleClick. “One of the issues that quality content sites have to deal with is manage the multiple ad placements, sponsorships and various agency relationships,” he said. “We’re currently at 85 million uniques and we started to hit a wall in creating premium advertising packages given the technology that was available.”

DoubleClick challenge: So after hitting that wall, Glam decided to build GlamAdapt to replaces DoubleClick for its ad serving needs. So far, 1,500 publishers in Glam’s network are using GlamAdapt. Glam was already in the process of trying to build its own version of DoubleClick For Publishers, when it became aware of AdPortal. The company is introducing GlamAdapt For Publishers, which will add on to AdPortal, not just absorb it, Arora said.

What display recovery?: Glam had been claiming double-digit display growth last year, even in the depths of the ad recession. Arora dismisses the current comeback that a number of high-profile display leaders have been experiencing, such as Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), noting that this year’s gains are still weak compared to 2008. Arora: “If you think about the industry display dip that happened last year, you saw Yahoo down about 15 percent, NYT down 20 percent, AOL (NYSE: AOL) 25 percent — and print was down 25- to 50 percent. If you set up an index, where in 2008, the index was at 100 basis points. The average decline was 20 percent, which meant that they were starting from 80 basis points last year. So when we talk about the ‘industry recovery,’ where Yahoo was up 19 percent, they’re basically up from 80 basis points to just about where they were in ’08. I think that’s an important perspective.”

In Glam’s case last year, Arora said that the company’s display revenues were up 25- to 35 percent. “So on an equivalent index with the portals, you could say this year, we’re up about 125 percent in comparison.”

When asked about the MediaMemo post, which first reported that Glam had bought AdPortal’s former parent, Sportsgenic, Arora said that the company was “still working through that.”