Outbrain Acquires Ligatus to Create Native Advertising Powerhouse

In late February, PowerLinks’ partner Outbrain announced it’s acquisition of another of our partners, German-based native advertising company Ligatus.

The two companies hope the deal will help them to create a native advertising “powerhouse”, following Outbrain’s 2017 purchase of Zemanta; another deal that forms part of the company’s market consolidation strategy.

The Ligatus deal is the largest in Outbrain’s history and, by extending Outbrain’s reach into the EU market and giving them unique access to a number of top-tier publishers, will surely mean strong growth for both companies. According the Outbrain’s Co-CEO David Kostman, the acquisition is also part of a broader effort to work with high-quality publishers and marketers, telling WSJ, “ “Higher-end brands are more inclined to post native ads rather than be part of the content-recommendation space.”

Both Outbrain and Ligatus are partners in the PowerLinks marketplace.  We are excited by the news which promises to deliver some notable benefits to our buy-side partners and advertisers.

Ligatus is a European-based native advertising solution provider headquartered in Germany with offices across Europe. Their supply-side platform (SSP) brings publishers and marketers together with what the company describes as “high-impact, non-intrusive native ad placements, using mobile-first native ad solutions” intended to build awareness and engagement with the right audiences at scale.

Similarly, Outbrain’s mission is, as the company describes it, “to create the most meaningful and trustworthy online discovery feeds connecting a person, channel and marketer.” Founded in 2006, Outbrain has raised $150 million in funding from investors like Index Ventures, Viola Ventures, and several others, and 700 employees.

High Quality Publishers & Expanded Reach

Outbrain co-CEO David Kostman stated that the acquisition will “strengthen the relationship with [its] publisher base. By combining the sophisticated native advertising offering of Ligatus with Outbrain’s strong targeting technology and reach, the benefit for marketers, publishers and users will be a trustworthy feed of discovery that is powered with a strong underlying, non-interruptive advertising experience.”

While Outbrain has significant presence in the U.S., working with major global publishers and channels like MSN, CNN and The Washington Post, Ligatus brings major European publishers to the table, and the two together will be able to expand Outbrain’s native offering to marketers with more than 1,400 premium publishers, including STERN, RTL and Femme Actuelle.

Improved Audience Match Rates

The combined entity of Outbrain and Ligatus will inevitably reach consumers in Europe with more frequency, across a wider array of publishers. PowerLinks will benefit from more frequent opportunities to match audiences and to syndicate this data with multiple DMPs, enhancing audience data for better targeting and personalization.

Over time, PowerLinks intends to move towards a unified cross-platform ID, which will further improve audience matching, particularly for frequency control and attribution purposes.  Working with a larger combined entity may accelerate this process.

Brand and Performance Opportunities

Historically both Outbrain and Ligatus have built strong reputations in the performance marketing space, which over time has encompassed content amplification with an emphasis on post-click performance (time on page, time on site, scroll depth and so on.).  From an outsider’s point of view, Outbrain has tended towards intent based targeting and performance optimization, whereas Ligatus seem to have focussed more on context. The combined expertise expertise should compound the ability to deliver relevance, generating high quality traffic and performance.

Ligatus has also pushed into higher share of voice in-feed formats which are integrated into publisher news feeds and embedded mid-article.  These formats provide an ideal canvas for impactful brand advertising, with higher viewability and brand safety built in. We expect to see more growth of in-feed both in Europe and across Outbrain’s portfolio of publishers in the US. Spending on in-feed native advertising has continued to increase, according to eMarketer, who predicted that native-ad spending would grow by 31% last year.

PowerLinks will work with Outbrain and Ligatus as the two combine, with an eventual goal of combining the two in our marketplace and APIs.


To learn more about PowerLinks for brands, our native advertising solutions, and more visit www.powerlinks.com, email info@www.powerlinks.com, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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