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

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:
gravity-interest-graph

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?

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