Opera snaps up 2 mobile ad networks: Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising join browser firm

17/02/2012

Browser maker Opera Software has acquired Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising in an effort to boost its push into the mobile advertising space. The Norwegian firm is hoping to drive more revenue from mobile traffic, and is reportedly paying a combined $10 million in cash up front for both companies, as well as an additional sum based on individual performance. This totals $64.5m for both companies if all targets are met.

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Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising are both mobile advertising networks. The latter has been focused on the European market, while Mobile Theory has concentrated on the U.S., according to Opera.

The company wants to make more money on the traffic that flows through the Mini and Mobile browsers, and the acquisitions will allow it to expand offerings to advertisers and publishers that want to reach consumers via applications and the web, across iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Java and Symbian, the company said.

For Mobile Theory, which is based in San Francisco, Opera is putting $5 million in cash on the table. Another $13 million in cash was put in escrow and will be paid to Mobile Theory in 2013 and 2014, provided certain revenue performance targets are met. In addition, there’s an earn-out cash consideration that can amount up to $32 million (based on “aggressive” revenue and EBIT targets).

For 4th Screen Advertising, based in London, Opera is also paying $5 million in cash and putting $3 million in escrow. The additional earn-out cash consideration for 4th Screen – also based on “aggressive revenue and EBIT targets” – can amount up to $6.5 million.

This comes down to a total of $64.5 million for both companies if all targets are met.

Opera says it currently serves more than 160 million monthly active users that generate more than 100 billion page views, as of December 2011.

Lars Boilesen, chief executive of Opera Software, said: “This is yet another important step in Opera’s quest to create even more economic value in the mobile ecosystem. Two years ago, we announced the acquisition of AdMarvel – which has grown to become the global leader as a supply-side platform (publisher platform) for mobile advertising. Last year, Opera helped generate well over $200 million in revenue for our publishers globally.”

Mark Slade, MD, 4thScreen Advertising, commented on the sale: "We are delighted to be joining the Opera Software team. It has been clear through our discussions that they share our vision for the growth of the company and totally understand the major opportunities that are unfolding in mobile advertising as it matures in to a central part of any multi-platform marketing strategy.

"Opera is a massive mobile media owner in its own right and we look forward to working together and growing this market with an extremely powerful proposition on a global scale."

Opera also reported its earnings for Q4 2011 this morning, posting revenues of 253.1 million Norwegian Krone (roughly $43.5 million).

The company said most of the revenue growth came from its Desktop, Device OEMs, Mobile Consumers and Publishers & Advertisers divisions, noting that they’re seeing a shift towards recurring revenue streams.

Earnings before interest and tax came in at 67.6 million Norwegian Krone ($11.6 million), EBITDA at 78.8 million Norwegian Krone ($13.6 million).

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