Fox Buys Photobucket, Gains User Data to Boost Ad Value

Fox Interactive Media (FIM) confirmed today it has struck agreements to buy photo management platform Photobucket and fledgling media creation platform Flektor.

The moves may have marketing implications beyond simply growing FIM’s online inventory or bringing Photobucket and Flektor a larger base of advertisers. With the purchase of Photobucket in particular, FIM will get extensive data about where the site’s estimated 42 million users are posting their personal media on the Web. Such behavioral data could be used to enhance ad targeting across the FIM network of sites, espcially on MySpace, which shares considerable audience overlap with Photobucket.

Indeed, Photobucket CEO Alex Welch told ClickZ six weeks ago the company has been nursing plans to apply that information in just such a fashion on its own site. He said Photobucket aimed to create vertical segments for people who post photos to automotive or video game chat rooms, for instance, as well as broader demographic segments such as likely college students, based on postings to Facebook.

Reached today, Photobucket and FIM executives declined to comment on whether that plan would still be put into effect under FIM management or whether FIM would apply Photobucket user data to support campaigns on MySpace and its other sites. However, FIM spokesperson Dan Berger confirmed the News Corp. division is making a considerable investment in data-driven ad targeting, including behavioral targeting.

“I can’t comment specifically on that scenario,” said Berger. “What I can say is behavioral targeting, and what we’ve started to call hyper-targeting, will continue to be a priority…we do a little behavioral targeting. There’ll be more rolled out over the next year.”

FIM’s pursuit of “hyper-targeting” ad technology goes back at least three months to its acquisition of Strategic Data Corporation (SDC) in February. That deal aimed to combine SDC’s ad optimization technology with the untapped data encased in MySpace user profiles.

“I don’t think we would have done this acquisition if we didn’t have MySpace,” FIM Chief Revenue Officer Michael Barrett told ClickZ News at the time. “Given the mountain of data we had on our members, specifically at MySpace, we really needed a customized ad solution to bring this to market.”

Terms of the purchase agreements with Photobucket and Flektor weren’t disclosed.

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