Brand Networks Acquires Social Ad Platform Shift For $50M

Social marketing company Brand Networks continues to gobble up the competition — it just announced that it’s acquiring Shift in a $50 million cash-and-stock deal.

Back in 2013, it acquired Optimal, another social media advertising company. Brand Networks founder and CEO Jamie Tedford (pictured above) said “the success of our own business on-boarding Optimal” made him confident about integrating Shift.

Tedford added that his company and Shift (previously known as GraphEffect) have been “friendly competitors for many years,” and that it was an attractive acquisition because of Shift’s technology, its team and its client list.

Shift co-founder and CEO James Borow will become chief product officer at Brand Networks (a role once held by Optimal’s Rob Leathern, who’s now working on a new startup), and he said “a very large portion” of his team is moving over as part of the acquisition.

“Our goal was always to have a complete social marketing platform,” Borow said — and in his view, combining the Brand Networks and Shift products accomplishes that goal.

brand networks shift

The companies are already releasing the first steps in this integration by launching Shift’s RelevanceRank technology across the Brand Networks platform. That means Brand Networks can now score any piece of content based on how it will perform on different social advertising environments, and also recommend when a marketer should increase their budget to give something a bigger boost.

Borow added that he sees Brand Networks, Optimal and Shift as three companies that have “all grown up in the same place.”

“As different as we are, we’re a hell of a lot more similar in many ways,” he said. “We’ve all, for the past five years, been looking at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and really been about combining all these worlds.”

The two companies say they collectively manage more than $500 million in advertising spending for 650 brands and agencies, including Interpublic Group, WPP, AT&T, Yahoo and Unilever. Brand Networks raised a single, $68 million funding round, while Shift had raised $14 million in funding.