Opera Buys AdVine To Expand Its Mobile Ad Network In Africa

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Opera — the Norway-based
company that develops data-
compressed web browsers , app
storefronts , and other cloud-based
services for mobile and other
platforms — has made another
acquisition to build out
Mediaworks , its mobile advertising
subsidiary. It has bought AdVine , a
mobile ad network based in Cape
Town, South Africa. This is Opera’s
first acquisition in the region.

AdVine serves ads within a variety
of large and small publishers in
the region, including the BBC, MTN
and Opera itself. The company’s
site is currently offline — being
rebuilt in the wake of the
acquisition? — but you can see a
media kit , already co-branded with
an Opera logo, which lays out some
of the other publishers in its
network, along with pricing.

Financial terms of the deal are not
being disclosed, Opera Mediaworks
CEO Mahi de Silva said. It is
both an asset and talent grab, with
people and technology joining
Opera.
This may be Opera’s first
acquisition in Africa, but AdVine is
not an unknown quantity to the
company.

“AdVine is a team we’ve been
working with since 2012 and it was
an opportunity to bring a partner
into the company and to ensure we
can deliver a more consistent
solution set into the local markets
across Africa,” says de Silva.
Nor is Africa unfamiliar territory for
Opera. Its best-known product is
probably its Opera browsers, which
are available for both smart and
higher-end feature phones, and
offer users a web experience that
Opera says is faster than other
browsers, and — because of data
compression algorithms — use less
data.

The promise of lower data usage
resonates particularly in emerging
markets, where mobile
handsets have become the primary
computers for many people, and —
although data is dear —
smartphone use is growing much
faster than in mature markets.
For this reason, emerging markets
have also become a huge focus for
other mobile-focused companies
like Google and Facebook.
That being said, de Silva notes that
the mobile ad market in Africa is in
“its relative infancy.”

Opera gets over 2.6 billion ad
requests per month from the
region and reach more than 50
million consumers there today, but
“we expect that number to more
than double in the next year,” he
adds.
To get some perspective on that
number, in its Q3 earnings , Opera
reported total mobile ad
impressions (including O&O) was
187.5 billion. Notably, those only
grew 9% compared to Q3 2013.

In other words, just like Facebook,
Google and the rest, Opera is
looking to emerging markets to
boost growth.
Opera has been focused on how it
can tap better into the mobile
explosion in Africa for a while now .

South Africa and Nigera are in the
company’s top 20 markets when it
comes to mobile ad impressions.
The other key thing about AdVine
is that it focuses on premium
advertising, going beyond search
and banners and for dynamic, rich
media formats like video, along
with better ad tech to measure how
these perform.

As basic formats become less
effective in catching users’
attention, rich ads are an area that
has been getting more attention
from many players, from Twitter to
Yahoo and (our owner) AOL. It’s
also an area that Opera has been
pushing hard to expand, most
recently buying AdColony in June ,
and before that Apprupt in
Germany .

On another level, it’s an interesting
turn to see a tech startup out of
the region getting acquired. Up to
now there have been relatively few
tech fundings and exits out of
Africa, let alone startups that have
flourished into huge tech
businesses. But when you consider
the size and relative early stage of
that market, it seems like just a
matter of time before more of these
come to the fore.

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