Publishers Get Ad-Tech Religion

If you can’t build it, buy it, right? That seems to be the M.O for Conde Nast these days. Fresh off the heels of its investment in Trigger Media, the NYT reported that Conde is now an 11 percent owner of Flite, an ad-customization tool for gussying up banner ads.

It’s a small stake, to be sure. It comes on the heels of Gannett, already the owner of rich media ad vendor Point Roll, buying all of Blinq Media, a Facebook management platform. Is this a sign that publishers are getting serious about owning technology? Yes and no.

Both companies clearly see the need to diversify their businesses in a tech direction. That’s not very surprising. And these marketing services are complementary to what they already do for advertisers. Neither of these deals are monster acquisitions. The fact is Conde Nast and Gannett can’t compete with the firepower of Silicon Valley tech giants when it comes to the choicest (and priciest) acquisitions. It’s no mistake that Gannett got Blinq while Salesforce picked up the far larger Buddy Media.

It begs the question why Conde and Gannet aren’t looking to build this stuff first. That’s a tempting proposition, but history shows that innovation tends to happen from the fringes, not within the giant incumbents.

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