AOL Scoops Up Mobile Ad Network Millennial Media for $238 Million

Deal opens up ad space in 65,000 apps

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After two months of speculation, AOL has acquired mobile ad network Millennial Media for $238 million, or about $1.75 per share.

The Millennial deal is the newest step in building out AOL's tools to compete in mobile advertising against behemoths like Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

With the deal, Verizon-owned AOL is getting access to mobile inventory in Millennial's 65,000 apps—equivalent to 1 billion active global users in markets like Germany, France and Japan. It will also help build out its cross-screen programmatic platform called One.

"AOL is well positioned as consumers spend more and more time on mobile devices, and as advertisers, agencies and publishers become more reliant on programmatic monetization tools," said AOL's president Bob Lord in a statement. "As we continue to invest in our platforms and technology, the acquisition of Millennial Media accelerates our competitive mobile offering in One by AOL and enhances our current publisher offering with an 'all in' monetization platform for app developers."

AOL's move is the latest sign of the times for mobile ad networks like Millennial (which spent more than $300 million on its own acquisitions in recent years) that have struggled in recent years to keep up in a fast-paced industry.

With Millennial now off the table, it could set off a wave of other deals for tech companies to gobble up smaller mobile ad networks that specialize in video and location-based targeting.

To stay ahead, Millennial zeroed in on building up its automated capabilities the past couple of years by acquiring two other big mobile players. In 2013, it bought real-time bidding platform Jumptap in for $209 million. Then in September 2014, Millennial acquired ad network Nexage for $107 million.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.