AcuityAds acquires social ad targeter 140 Proof for up to $20M

140 Proof, a company that helps advertisers target their campaigns based on social data, has been acquired by AcuityAds for up to $20 million in cash.

140 Proof co-founder and CEO Jon Elvekrog said the deal will combine his company’s strength in social media with AcuityAds’ programmatic ad-buying tech.

The 140 Proof brand and team will continue to exist within AcuityAds, Elvekrog said. He also said he’ll be joining the larger company, along with his co-founder/CTO John Manoogian III and their entire 20-person team.

When I asked about the direction of the broader social advertising and analytics market, Elvekrog and Manoogian argued that 140 Proof stands out because of its efforts to build an “interest graph” based on people’s social connections, not just the content that they’re posting.

“On a place like Tumblr or Twitter, the most common activity that everyone’s doing is following — it’s not posting, right?” Manoogian said. “If you’re trying to do super advanced machine learning and natural language processing, and all you’re doing is analyzing posts, you’re going to miss most of the users.”

140 Proof had raised $5.5 million in funding from investors including BlueRun Ventures, Founders Fund and SV Angel. AcuityAds, meanwhile, went public in Canada back in 2014.

“The 140 Proof acquisition accelerates our ability to leverage social media data for brand advertisers and media companies to deliver powerful targeted advertising at scale,” said AcuityAds CEO Tal Hayek in the acquisition release.