Already well known as a leading Canadian producer and publisher specializing in home and lifestyle, technology and nature content, Blue Ant Media has expanded its ad sales offering with the acquisition of Media Pulse.
The move reflects Blue Ant’s commitment to being a larger player in the fast-growing world of connected TV (CTV) advertising.
Media Pulse is described as a “connected TV marketplace delivering measurable and business-impacting connected TV advertising strategies for Canadian brands as well as enhanced revenue opportunities for media owners and publishers.”
But in simpler terms, the deal means Blue Ant has technology to help Canadian advertisers reach the growing number of consumers who prefer to watch high quality content through devices like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV.
That’s a big market already, about 63% of Canadian households, according to eMarketer, and expected to grow to about 82% by next year, with connected TV ad spend expected to surpass $1 billion in Canada by that time.
Connected TV and free ad supported streaming television (FAST) give advertisers an opportunity to deliver targeted, unskippable advertising to consumers who may have moved away from traditional broadcast television or, as is the case with many young consumers, never considered traditional cable in the first place, said Mitch Dent,SVP, media sales and group publisher at Blue Ant.
“The connected TV marketplace is that perfect blending of digital and television because you can do digital targeting—you can buy it on digital demos, you can add your data into it, you can do all those kinds of things—but you’re delivering a 30-second quality ads.”
“The problem comes in getting scale and getting enough eyeballs,” he said. Media Pulse is a marketplace of those eyeballs across a wide range of content publishers and streamers. In Canada alone, Media Pulse serves 2.2 billion impressions per month across connected TV devices.
The move comes as Blue Ant continues to expand quickly into the FAST space, including the launch of Homeful earlier this year, along with Love Nature, HauntTV, Total Crime and HistoryTime, which consumers can watch on platforms like VIZIO WatchFree+, The Roku Channel, and SamsungTV Plus.
“But honestly, it has very little to do Blue Ant’s free ad supported offerings,” said Dent. Strategically it helps Blue Ant by enhancing its expertise and capabilities in the fast-changing world of digital advertising. But the deal is also about growing the Canadian advertising business at a time when the global players—like Google and Facebook—continue to expand their reach and share of that market, mostly with shorter form, often skippable advertising. “You want to be able to service Canadian advertisers, and so connected TV at scale makes huge sense to us.”
Media Pulse will operate as a stand alone entity within Blue Ant Media reporting to Dent. The two key executives who built Media Pulse, with Christopher Law and Deborah Gurofsky remain with the company as managing director and VP, partnerships. The deal also gives Blue Ant exclusive Canadian access to Column6, the proprietary technology driving the Media Pulse Marketplace.
“We can help them grow the business relatively rapidly, because we have a digital sales force. We’ve got a television broadcast sales force, we’ve got agency relationships and those kinds of dynamics,” said Dent. On top of that, Blue Ant has its in-house ad agency Blue Ant Plus which specializes in branded storytelling and content, and can quickly and efficiently provide turn-key productions to agencies and clients interested in CTV.
“We thought [Media Pulse] was a perfect fit from our standpoint,” he said.