In one of the most interesting and consequential deals we’ve reported this year, UK radio juggernaut Global has acquired U.S. digital audio advertising company AudioHQ. Linked with that, Global will launch DAX, its programmatic audio ad platform, in the U.S., operated by AudioHQ — whose name will change to DAX.
The parties told RAIN News that Global has bought a majority interest in AudioHQ, with founders Matt Cutair and Jeff McCarthy retaining ownership stakes. AudioHQ (now DAX) will operate the U.S. DAX business, working closely with European counterparts to the benefit of the global DAX platform. Monetary terms are not disclosed.
Oliver Deane, Director of Commercial Digital at Global, characterized the deal as “huge” from his perspective. “It’s not just about DAX, but also Global. This is our first acquisition in US. That’s a big thing for the entire business.”
Deane said that when contemplating addressing a market beyond Europe, acquisition seemed natural, and characterized AudioHQ as “Brilliant team, brilliant leader, brilliant products.”
Technology is one aspect of programmatic digital audio, and building the buyer-seller market is another. We were interested to know whether this deal represents a resurgence of interest in audio programmatic advertising. Matt Cutair explained: “When DAX launched in UK, it launched digital audio advertising at the same time that programmatic was a ‘thing,’ and a trend in the overall ecosystem. The digital audio market in UK was built in an era of programmatic. A larger percentage of business is done via programmatic compared to US.”
Oliver Deane agreed with this timeline, noting that DAX launched in 2014, in a digital audio advertising market that demanded programmatic efficiency, automation, and targeting. Last year just over 50% of digital audio ad revenue was transacted programmatically, according to Deane, and it is “significantly growing, with tangible results and case studies.”
Cutair observed that the U.S. is playing catch-up in programmatic compared to the U.K. (in percentage terms). “We think programmatic is going to grow in the U.S.” More important, he noted, is the knowledge, infrastructure, resources, and systems built into DAX over three years is an advantage.
Integrating the programmatic technology stack into a U.S.-based system will take time, Matt Cutair noted, and it’s difficuult to project growth in real terms. But: “The market is starting to move meaningfully.”
“We feel confident,” said Oliver Deane.