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This Deal Will Make It Easier for Brands to Connect With Buyers on All Screens

Linear TV leader invests in mobile video company

Together, ITN and Torrential reach 100 percent of TV households and 80 percent of smartphone, tablet and online viewers. Illustration: Yuliya Kim

With mobile usage expected to continue its upward trajectory in 2016, it's more imperative than ever for marketers to be able to reach consumers on any, and every, screen available.

And as marketers increase their budgets for cross-screen programmatic advertising this year, two ad tech companies are teaming up to cater to that growing need. ITN Networks, which specializes in programmatic sales across linear television, announced today an investment in mobile-first video platform Torrential. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"[Advertisers] want to follow a consumer across multiple screen touch points," said Tim Connors, president and CEO, ITN Networks. "And they need to do it on a scalable basis, but they also need to do it with all the assurances of accountability, transparency and quality content."

Together, both companies reach 100 percent of TV households and 80 percent of smartphone, tablet and online viewers.

Mobile video ad spending is projected to grow 50 percent in 2016 to $4 billion, according to eMarketer.

"It really enhances our position as an ad tech company inside the industry," said Connors, who described the deal as a "natural evolution" of ITN Networks' programmatic model. "We're talking about dealing with premium digital content and premium content in linear TV. Nobody else really brings this to the marketplace."

ITN has relationships with more than 800 local broadcast stations, satellite TV providers and national and local cable channels. It essentially creates custom "networks" for each of its clients, which include a majority of the top 100 U.S advertisers and major advertising holding companies.

ITN sells across those channels' websites as well, enabling cross-screen campaigns. The one aspect it didn't have was mobile. That's where Torrential's proprietary Open Syndication System (OS2) video ad platform comes in.

"We now have a unique position to lead the programmatic video business," said Torrential's co-founder and CEO Matt Wasserlauf. Connors knew Wasserlauf and the New York-based Torrential team back when they founded Broadband Enterprises and were among the first to delve into online video. "One of the biggest regrets that we had is that we didn't buy them," Connors said.

Torrential has been working both sides of the aisle, with clients including Diageo, Dell, Geico, P&G and Papa John's, and media companies Dailymotion, Fox Entertainment, Telemundo, Weather Channel and USA Today Sports.

"We've worked with all these premium players for the past 10 years," said Wasserlauf. "We put the first video ads on a lot of these publishers."

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