AOL Plays Catch-Up on Ad, Content Targeting with $90.7 Million Gravity Buy

  |  January 24, 2014   |  Comments

AOL's $90.7 million acquisition of Gravity to personalize ads and editorial is good news. But is it good enough to enable it to compete with the likes of Facebook or Google?

AOL has acquired content optimization start-up Gravity for a total of $90 million, allowing the publisher to offer advertisers more contextualized targeting, as well as to catch up with industry majors who are already big on personalization.

Gravity is known for its proprietary Interest Graph, which pulls out users' interests, habits, and preferences to allow for customized serving of ads and/or editorial content.

This illustrates the process behind Gravity's work:

Founded five years ago, Gravity launched its personalization API in 2013, allowing brands and publishers to boost their engagement by 240 percent "compared to sites that do not have personalization," AOL and Gravity say in a joint-statement. Logically so, the newly acquired team will report to AOL Brand Group head of product Luke Beatty.

Although this is obviously good news for AOL, one cannot help but wonder how much catching up it can hope to do: Facebook's Graph is already gathering the tastes, affinities, interests, passions etc. of its 1.19 billion users and Google is already pulling together all the data from all its various properties, from Gmail to Maps to plain browsing. Both these industry giants are not just steps ahead but at least mega leaps ahead. So the question is, how is this one single acquisition going to give AOL sufficient edge to attract more advertisers, brands, and users?


Liva Judic

Liva Judic joined Search Engine Watch and ClickZ in May 2010 as a news blogger. She has lived and worked across the globe in Madagascar, Switzerland, London, NYC, Asia and is now based in between New York and Berlin.

Her background is in government relations and financial media where she started out as a journalist at Bloomberg and became senior editor at AFX news (now part of ThomsonReuters). Prior to forming her own consultancy Judic was head of international PR for a head of state.

Judic focuses on facilitating brand and marketing transitioning for European startups moving to the US. She has been named one of the Top 50 Industry Influencers of 2014 by AGBeat 

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