Web measurement firm Comscore has acquired online ad verification service Adxpose for $22 million. Originally founded as Mpire in 2005, the Seattle-based startup switched from a widget advertising platform called WidgetBucks to an ad campaign measurement tool last year when it recapitalized with a $3 million infusion from DFJ and Ignition Partners. The $22 million purchase price is roughly equal to the $22.8 million total amount of venture capital poured into the company since 2005 (although, with the recap, somebody made money).
Adxpose focusses on “ad verification” and “ad safety.” Essentially, it tells advertisers if anyone actually saw their ad online (was the ad above the fold or below the fold on any given webpage and how many people actually scrolled down to look at it?), and in what context the ads were shown. For instance, most major brand advertisers don’t want their ads shown next to porn or other content not deemed to be “brand-safe.”
ComScore will fold the Adxpose technology into its Campaign Essentials product, and combine its knowledge of website demographics and traffic to give advertisers better campaign measurement tools. Comscore sees this acquisition as a key piece in its efforts to bridge online advertising measurement with TV and other media. There also are so many third-party ad networks in between the advertiser and the ultimate place where the ads are seen that more accountability is needed.
The problem with online display ads that this acquisition attempts to address is that measuring impressions or hits just isn’t good enough. Increasingly, advertisers are demanding that they pay only for the right kinds of impressions and they are auditing campaigns more thoroughly. The entire online ad industry is moving in this direction. It’s not about clicks and conversions, it’s about attention.
Comscore also just announce its quarterly earnings today. Revenues jumped 38 percent to $58 million, but reported a net loss of $8.2 million.