Yellow Pages acquires Juice Mobile

Canadian mobile ad buying player to round out YP's mobile offering

Yellow Pages Limited has acquired Juice Mobile, a Toronto-based mobile programmatic and direct ad buying company, for $35 million.

Founded in 2010, Juice’s revenues exceeded $25 million in 2015, 15% of which arrived via clients in its newest market – the United States – where it now has offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Juice, which made the shortlist for Marketing‘s Tech Player of the Year last year, has mostly targeted national and international advertisers and publishers to drive its growth, and it counts more than 300 of the Fortune 500 among its clients.

However, Yellow Pages says it intends to offer Juice’s programmatic services to its key client base: small- and medium-sized businesses.

“There is a gap between how the consumer audience is behaving in digital and what small businesses are able to offer,” said Fiona Story, director of public relations and corporate communications at Yellow Pages. “Because mobile is really where digital advertising is going, what we believe is that this type of programmatic advertising needs to be readily available to small businesses for them to remain competitive. We’d like to leverage Juice’s technology and audiences to make that happen.”

Yellow Pages’ print-to-digital saga is well reported in Canada’s business press. But where its acquisitions over the last few years have mostly focused on strengthening online verticals such as dining (Dine.TO and Bookenda) and real estate (ComFree/DuProprio), Juice marks its first serious technology acquisition since putting the phone directory business in its rearview.

“We all know that mobile is becoming the platform of choice, and it really is going to overtake everything in terms of digital advertising spend in short order,” said Story. “The area that made Juice so attractive to us is that they’re a pure mobile player.”

Yellow Pages had been able to offer mobile advertising to clients previously through the digital offerings of its Mediative division, “but the mobile offering was not as robust there. This is complementary. It rounds out a completed offering in digital advertising,” Story said.

Yellow Pages has seen its digital revenues grow from year to year (up 9% in 2014, the most recent year-end results available), but overall annual revenues have been in decline – a 9.7% drop to $878 million in 2014 following a 12% drop the year prior. EBITDA has seen similar declines.

The Juice acquisition is an all-cash deal, and Yellow Pages says that it will not hinder its plan to return to revenue growth by 2018.

Juice founder Neil Sweeney and its current management are set to remain with the company under its new owners. Sweeney’s related business Freckle IoT was not a part of the Yellow Pages deal.

The acquisition is set to close Thursday.

Correction: This story originally stated that both Freckle IoT and Nectar were not a part of the sale to Yellow Pages. Only Freckle IoT, a separate company, was beyond the scope of the sale.

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