OwnLocal, an Austin-based digital marketing platform that helps local media companies convert print, radio, and television ads into high-powered digital campaigns, has acquired Wanderful Media.
Wanderful was founded in 2012. Before launching under the Wanderful brand, the company had operated as Travidia since the 1990s. Through its Find&Save product, Wanderful connects retailers with local newspapers looking to host ads relevant to their nearby readers. Wanderful also reaches consumers with local deals through its mobile apps.
OwnLocal CEO Lloyd Armbrust told Street Fight a potential acquisition of Wanderful or at least part of the company’s assets had been on his mind since as early as 2013. The acquisition gives OwnLocal access to almost two decades of data Wanderful has collected through collaboration with local businesses on advertising.
“Machine learning is only as good as the inputs,” Armbrust said. “Wanderful has processed way more campaigns” over its long history than OwnLocal, founded in just 2010. With Wanderful’s many data points, OwnLocal is positioning itself to act on “more robust information” and provide its local business partners sharper digital campaigns.
OwnLocal has made four other strategic acquisitions, purchasing the likes of Whoosh Traffic, Sidengo, Inbound Press, and Print2Web before snapping up Wanderful, according to the company’s blog.
Armbrust called this acquisition the “most meaningful” one the company has made.
“Most acquisitions we’ve done the company was going to shut down or we were going to buy them. That wasn’t the case here. We acquired a profitable company. We were acquiring it for the company, for the contracts they have, and for the technology.”
This acquisition marks the first time OwnLocal has acquired an entire corporate entity. As part of the deal, a number of Wanderful’s staff members will join OwnLocal in Austin, where their expertise in the print-to-digital advertising space will come in handy as OwnLocal embraces its increasingly dominant position in the space.
OwnLocal’s success comes at a time when print newspapers find themselves increasingly embattled, as conventional advertising fails to produce the revenue that once kept local media organizations alive. Armbrust, who worked in the newspaper industry for most of his career before founding OwnLocal, said bringing money back to local newspapers is a personal passion.
“Our hypothesis is that newspapers can change,” he said. “If we can provide a business model for these folks at the local level by being that only source for marketing that local businesses have, it could provide a sustainable model to actually fund journalism.”
OwnLocal is currently processing print campaigns at a rate of about 600,000 per quarter, Armbrust said.
OwnLocal declined to disclose the exact financial terms of the deal.