Providence Acquires Majority Stake in DoubleVerify
Providence Equity Partners LLC is taking a majority stake in digital measurement firm DoubleVerify, betting on tools that can suss out fraud and verify the quality of digital media for online advertisers.
The private-equity firm is investing around $200 million in DoubleVerify, valuing the company at more than $300 million, according to a person close to the deal.
The measurement company expects to generate $75 million in revenue this year and exceed $100 million next year, according to a person familiar with the matter.
As part of the deal, DoubleVerify will appoint longtime Publicis Groupe executive Laura Desmond as an independent board member. Ms. Desmond, who left Publicis at the end of 2016, spent much of her time at the ad holding company at the helm of media agency network Starcom Mediavest Group. The agency group has since been reorganized and renamed.
As advertisers boost their digital ad budgets to reach consumers online, they’re increasingly looking for verification that their ads are seen and clicked on by real people, versus so-called bots that mimic human behavior, and that they appear in or near media content deemed safe and appropriate. Third-party measurement firms like DoubleVerify, Moat and Integral Ad Science work with large brands and publishers to track and validate these online ad efforts.
“We’ve been trying to find an investment in the digital ad ecosystem for some time,” said Davis Noell, a managing director at Providence. “When we came across DoubleVerify about a year ago, we really liked that overlap of measurement and digital advertising and felt DoubleVerify was solving a real pain point in the digital ad ecosystem for all players.”
Providence’s investment comes on the heels of Oracle’s acquisition of Moat, a digital measurement company known for its role as an independent third party hired to measure ads across platforms like Facebook , YouTube and Snapchat. Moat sold for more than $850 million, Recode reported.
Providence will help DoubleVerify expand internationally, as well as broaden its product offerings beyond its core service of digital media authentication. That might mean investing in new analysis and media-mix-modeling tools, said Mr. Noell, as well as technology that helps predict the performance of media, added Wayne Gattinella, chief executive and president of DoubleVerify.
“What we found most recently is that the same concerns [advertisers] have with their U.S. media investments are now becoming just as important to their world-wide investments,” said Mr. Gattinella. “So expanding our company, our services and our footprint in places we haven’t supported at the same level as we have in the U.S. is critically important.”
DoubleVerify’s current technology, which sits inside a brand’s campaign, can detect when an ad is about to load and determine whether the page is safe and appropriate for the brand, whether it is a real person or a bot, and whether it is viewable according to certain standards, said Mr. Gattinella.
The firm has over 200 employees, with clients that range from automotive and pharmaceutical brands to social platforms and digital publishers. The New York-based company had previously raised about $46 million from venture firms like Blumberg Capital and First Round Capital since it was founded in 2008.
Providence said it has ambitions to turn DoubleVerify into a $1 billion or “multibillion-dollar” company over time.
“What we’re trying to do strategically is build out the network, and make sure the coverage DoubleVerify can offer clients is as broad as possible globally and on various platforms,” said Mr. Noell.
Providence over the last five years has looked at advertising technology firms, but decided instead to find a firm that doesn’t “arbitrage media”—buy and resell digital ad inventory at a markup, he said. The investment in a data-focused business like DoubleVerify, which works in digital advertising and media but doesn’t actually buy or sell media, was the better bet and “validated” to a degree by the Oracle -Moat deal, Mr. Noell said.
Providence has investments in various media companies, including Univision Communications Inc. and the Chernin Group, and previously owned a stake in Hulu.
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