When Mixpo entered into a partnership with Netsertive last year, the two companies had no idea that it would end in a formal marriage.
But that’s what is happening today as North Carolina-based Netsertive — a leader in the emerging field of “brand-to-local marketing”— announced that it is buying Mixpo, a 10-year-old Seattle company that helps publishers and marketers create and deploy video and social media ad campaigns.
Together, the two companies say they will help brands better deploy digital marketing campaigns across local retailers — helping to drive more shoppers into brick-and-mortar stores.
Netsertive works with about three dozen large brands, including mattress maker Serta, auto manufacturer Mazda and appliance maker Electrolux. Its technology allows those brands to better deploy local marketing campaigns in specific geographic regions, oftentimes where messaging, pricing and store locations differ.
Mixpo CEO Charlie Tillinghast said that rules around those local ad campaigns are quite complicated, which means money is often left on the table due to compliance issues. Netsertive helps administer those marketing programs so dollars get more efficiently deployed, and with Mixpo it will add technologies that enhance video and social media ad campaigns.
“We have the capability at scale to produce video ads and social ads, and localize them,” said Tillinghast, speaking to GeekWire about Mixpo’s capabilities. “One of the things we have always been very good at — and where our core expertise is — is being able to take a single ad, and localize it, meaning putting local messaging on an ad for say several hundred different locations, all in an automated way.”
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Tillinghast said the deal was a financial success. He declined to elaborate when pressed for more details, but did say that Mixpo previously raised $12.4 million in venture funding from the likes of Madrona Venture Group, Yaletown Venture Partners and Growthworks.
Netsertive also is venture backed, having previously raised $38 million in funding over three rounds from Greycroft Partners, RRE Ventures and others. It employs 270 people.
At its peak following the acquisition of Portland-based ShopIgniter, Mixpo employed about 100 people. It now employs about 60 workers, all of whom will be joining Netsertive.
“Our plan and our intent here is to bring the entire team over … and we are investing in the unit,” Netsertive CEO Brendan Morrissey told GeekWire.
Asked why now was the right time for Mixpo to sell, Tillinghast noted that the advertising tech market is “pretty turbulent” and as part of that Mixpo was positioning to better capture brand dollars.
“A lot of our competitors will sell to brands and then turn around and help bring those dollars to publishers,” said Tillinghast. “And we don’t have (that). We have always been focused on publishers in helping them sell, and we have never had access to the demand dollars that help our publishers. And with Netsertive — in one fell swoop — all of a sudden we are part of a company that has access to huge brand dollars that we can work into our programs to benefit our publisher clients.”
Historically, Mixpo has worked with large television groups such as Sinclair Broadcast Group, Hearst, Comcast and Raycom Media. The idea is that Mixpo now will be able to funnel those brand dollars more directly to the television groups, providing even more value.
A lot of companies are trying to get into the Seattle market and it is not easy for them to break in and recruit, so this gives Netsertive a nice beachhead that way.
Tillinghast previously served as president of MSNBC Interactive News. He joined the board of Mixpo in 2013, and then took the CEO reins two years later, earning the “Hire of the Year” award at the 2015 GeekWire Awards. Tillinghast will continue to be based in Seattle, running the Mixpo business.
Netsertive plans to use the Mixpo office as a base for additional expansion on the West Coast, including positions in engineering and sales.
“A lot of companies are trying to get into the Seattle market and it is not easy for them to break in and recruit, so this gives Netsertive a nice beachhead that way,” said Tillinghast.