TransUnion, the country’s third-largest credit reporting agency, is buying data company Tru Optik in a deal understood to be worth north of $100 million.
TransUnion participated in a $10 million funding round in Tru Optik in April 2019. Now the credit reporter is buying Tru Optik to capitalize on the rise of streaming media, especially connected TV.
“We all know that the world of streaming media is only increasing,” said Matt Spiegel, evp of marketing solutions and media vertical at TransUnion. “Clearly the importance of the connected home is getting only more important, and that is now married with the ever-increasing speed of the deprecation of the more traditional identity signals. For us, it was a natural opportunity to take a much more leading position in where the market’s going.”
CTV usage has surged during the novel coronavirus pandemic as more people stay at home and stream shows and movies. CTV ad spend in the U.S. is estimated to reach $10.8 billion by 2021, up from nearly $7 billion in 2019, according to research firm eMarketer. Marketers have also been increasingly motivated to embrace data-driven practices to drive efficiency as every dollar spent comes under scrutiny due to the financial pinch of the pandemic.
Andre Swanston, CEO of Tru Optik, said the company has grown faster over the last six months at the height of the pandemic, than during the six months prior. Overall, the company’s data management platform has seen a 600% increase in revenue since last year, he said.
The acquisition comes as privacy changes, namely Google and Apple’s plans to rid their platforms of third-party cookies, threaten to disrupt the digital advertising industry. However, cookies aren’t supported in CTV, smart speakers or gaming consoles, so Swanston said Tru Optik is well positioned moving forward.
“We’re investing to enable the ad tech and mar tech marketplace of the future,” added Spiegel.
Investment bank Luma Partners helped broker the deal. Founder and CEO Terence Kawaja told Adweek that M&A discussion in the space is about to experience a surge after a hiatus caused by the economic impact of the pandemic.
“You’ll find that most of the decline in [ad] spend occurred in Q2, and by early Q3 it was back,” Kawaja said. “So, a lot of the conversations that occurred pre-pandemic picked back up again … Acquisitions are a sign of investor confidence, and they felt sufficiently confident that you could gain some clarity as to where the world was.”
Kawaja added that companies offering addressable advertising solutions that don’t rely on cookies, as well as CTV, will continue to be popular.
Tru Optik bills itself as a data-as-a-service provider across streaming media. It offers an identity graph of more than 80 million U.S. homes to help clients find target audiences and measure campaigns on CTV, streaming audio and gaming consoles.
Tru Optik has just under 40 employees, who will all be joining TransUnion, said Swanston. Tru Optik has raised roughly $16 million since its founding in 2013.
This is TransUnion’s second ad tech acquisition in the last month and third such deal in the last year and a half. In August, the company bought tech company Signal to help with customer attention and loyalty. In May 2019, TransUnion bought TruSignal, a company that analyzes data to build audiences for marketers.
“This is an important deal from the TransUnion standpoint, as it’s their third in the last 18 months. It’s a signal that a major player in the offline data business wants to get involved in the identity space,” said Kawaja.