Outbrain to Buy Fellow Native Ad Specialist Ligatus

The company says the purchase will strengthen its relationship with over 1,400 media brands

Outbrain is purchasing Ligatus from Gruner + Jahr, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann group. Getty Images
Headshot of Ronan Shields

Outbrain has signed an agreement to purchase Germany-based native advertising company Ligatus for an undisclosed fee in the latest act of the ongoing consolidation of the ad-tech sector of the media business.

The all-stock deal is subject to regulatory approval, but Outbrain reported that it expects the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2019 with the purchase of Ligatus, a company based in Cologne, Germany, set to significantly bolster its footprint in mainland Europe.

Outbrain is purchasing Ligatus from Gruner + Jahr, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann group, a German multinational corporation that holds a majority stake in both RTL Group, the largest media owner in Europe, and publishing giant Penguin Random House, among other interests in the media industry.

The company went on to specify that the purchase of Ligatus, which also offers native advertising services to publishers, would strengthen its relationship with more than 1,400 media brands in the region including RTL, STERN and Femme Actuelle.

In a statement, David Kostman, co-CEO of Outbrain, noted how such purchases were part of the company’s “market consolidation strategy”—the seventh company purchase in its history—which it hoped would result in a “trustworthy feed of discovery” powered by non-interruptive ads.

Under the terms of the deal, Arne Wolter, chief digital officer of Gruner + Jahr, will join Outbrain’s board of directors with Klaus Ludemann, CEO of Ligatus, describing the deal as the creation of a “native advertising powerhouse.”

Julia Jaekel, CEO of Gruner + Jahr, added, “We are thrilled to become shareholders in Outbrain … I believe this is a very positive development for premium publishers looking to engage loyal users, increase revenues and ensure a high-quality user experience.”

News of the intended purchase soon follows Outbrain’s 2018 purchase of Israel-based startup AdNgin, a company that specializes U/I optimization, plus the 2017 purchase of Zemanta, a demand-side platform specializing in native advertising opportunities.

The announcement also follows the news of publicly listed ad-tech companies Taptica and RhythmOne announcing their intention to merge. Speaking at the time, the pair, both headquartered in Israel, stated they aim to stake a claim in the nascent programmatic video advertising market.

@ronan_shields ronan.shields@adweek.com Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.