By James Hercher
Commerce-focused publisher Purch has raised a big $135 million round, money it aims to spend on potential media acquisitions outside its established B2C and B2B tech verticals.
Some of the money will also support an ad tech expansion, including heightened analytics capabilities.
“Investors don’t like money in the bank,” said CEO Greg Mason. “We want to be thoughtful … but there’s a lot of urgency to put the money to use.”
The round was led by led by Canadian private equity firm Canso Investment Counsel and brings Purch’s total funding to $175.5 million. It comes about a year after Purch rebranded from TechMedia Network in the wake of its acquisition of BuyerZone, a deal that marked its formal entry into the lead generation space.
Purch pulls just over half its revenue from commerce, including affiliate links, direct ecommerce, or referral and lead-generation deals. That money is about evenly split between B2B and B2C users.
Mason says the company is on a $100 million run rate for 2015.
“There’s considerable demand from small business decision makers for high-quality review content,” he said.Mason chalked up Purch’s increased B2B focus to a “massive migration” to cloud-based services that has enabled automation of new business functions and created competition for legacy players like ADP. Across HR, CRM, finances and accounting services, there has been a push to outsource what were once major internal operations for mid-sized companies.
“It’s very attractive for us to participate in those categories,” he said.
Besides the direct revenue benefits, the company’s B2B focus also provides a higher level of intent targeting to marketers, according to Mason. The publications in Purch’s stable, including AnandTech, Tom’s Hardware, Top Ten Reviews and LiveScience, have a focus on product reviews, meaning it can offer ad opportunities farther down the consumer purchase funnel.
Earlier this year Purch ramped up its programmatic ad sales efforts, integrating with multiple SSPs and experimenting with dynamic price floors on auctions it hosts internally. Mason said the project has had “a great effect on CPMs for that inventory.”
Dynamic price floors let publishers boost yield by setting minimum bid amounts for certain buyers. Publishers see them as a way to appropriately value their audiences, while the buy side often views them as artificially inflated demand.
“We don’t want to be an ad tech company, per se,” Mason said, “but our objective is to … monetize [our audience] as best we can, and this fits squarely into that.”