Opera Software To Buy Startup AdColony

Tap to watch a TV show clip on Lifetime's iPad app, and a high-definition video ad for the Home Depot begins playing, it seems, even before your finger has left the screen.

Shaving milliseconds to get that and thousands of other video ads loaded faster on mobile devices has earned a Brentwood [California] start-up millions. In a recently announced deal expected to close this fall, AdColony is being acquired by Opera Software of Norway for as much as $350 million. Opera, which offers a speedy Internet browser that's popular in developing countries, says the addition of AdColony will make its own online ad unit more appealing to advertisers.

As consumers spend more of their day staring at smartphones and tablets and fewer minutes in front of TV screens, advertisers want to shift with them. The ballooning market for ads in apps is expected to propel spending on mobile ads this year past the amount spent on radio and printed ads and ever closer to TV's sum, the research firm EMarketer said this month.

But moving video ads from TV to small screens has often produced shoddy results, marred by poor quality and frustrating buffering. AdColony says its computer code and infrastructure to broadcast high-definition, interactive ads has set it apart, keeping consumers, app makers and advertisers happy.

"Mobile is all about a snappy user experience," said Nikao Yang, an AdColony senior vice president. "If you're not delivering within three seconds, your user is gone."

The 100-person company, spread across seven cities, transmits ads for companies such as Nike Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. to apps that include ABC News and Flixster and games from "Angry Birds"-maker Rovio and "Clash of Clans"-developer Supercell.

Ad-buying agency Horizon Media Inc., whose clients include Geico, Capital One and Jack in the Box, is booking business "in the millions"...

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