Meredith Corp. Bought an Ad-Tech Company to Make Grocery Shopping Easier

Brings together mobile, e-commerce and native ads

Women's magazine publisher Meredith Corp. has acquired Grocery Server, a digital firm that powers location-based ads for food and retail brands.

Grocery Server was founded in 2008 as an ad platform that pulls location data from grocery stores and CPG brands into ads on publishers' websites. Meredith first started working with Grocery Server in April 2014 to plug local ads into—its hub of recipe and food content.

Here's what the ads look like: Each recipe on AllRecipes' website and mobile app has an ingredient section. A box under the ingredients pulls in real-time data about which foods are on sale at nearby grocery stores and retailers including Target, Stop & Shop and Walmart.

Brands like Unilever and Del Monte can then buy native-like placements in those boxes to promote similar products. "If they're going to be preparing a messy meal, we can suggest that there are paper towels, garbage bags or detergent on sale at the same retailer," said Marc Rothschild, svp of Meredith Digital.

Rothschild declined to say how much the acquisition cost or share any stats about the campaigns run so far, but he did note that the targeted promos are getting more people into stores.

"We've proven through a relationship with folks like Nielsen that we are able to drive people in store more frequently," Rothschild explained. "They're buying more in the food category, but then they're also buying a bunch of other stuff while they're in there."

This year, Meredith plans to make the recipe ads shoppable—think a "Buy" button-like feature—so that people can add recipe ingredients to retailers' shopping carts.

Grocery Server will also be used by other Meredith digital properties like Better Homes and Gardens, Eating Well and Martha Stewart, which could include expanding into other ad verticals like beauty.

Grocery Server is the latest piece of Meredith's plan to build up its shopper marketing business. In January, it acquired Selectable Media, a native advertising firm. Later that month, Meredith bought Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Natural health magazines from American Media.

"[After] our acquisitions with regards to native and the ability to distribute high-impact, branded content in video for top-of-funnel metrics," Rothschild said, "this helps us complete that story by delivering more purchase-intent metrics for our brands."