February 11, 2016 Last Updated 10:08 am

Time Inc. acquires Viant, Myspace owner, to boost mobile and TV customer data capabilities

Time Inc. also announced Q4 earnings, saying overall revenue fell 2 percent, though digital revenue rose $15 million or 17 percent

Time Inc. reported earnings this morning, reporting strong growth in digital. Digital ad revenues increased $15 million or 17 percent in the final quarter of 2015.

Time Magazine coverBut overall revenue fell slightly as print ad revenue declined $27 million or 7 percent in the quarter. Circulation revenue also fell $10 million or 3 percent as newsstand sales were particularly hit.

As a result, net income was $17 million in Q4, compared to $145 a year ago. For the full year, Time Inc reported a loss of $881 million, though the lion’s share of that loss was the result of the company’s $952 million impairment charge taken earlier this year.

The company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.19 per share payable on March 15.

“We came at Time Inc. with a very careful script that we laid out on the road show when we first with public of saying that we first had to go after our costs,” Ripp said on the conference call. “We needed to get the place right sized in the organization so we had the resources to reinvest back in the business. But our primary goal all along was to return the company to revenue growth.”

While the publishers still forecasts revenue declines in the single digits for Q1 of 2016, Time Inc. hopes to turn the corner and begin growing revenue by the end of the year.

Time Inc. stock opened down over 3 percent this morning, though the overall market opened down, following the lead of European markets which are having a very rough day.

Time Inc. also announced this morning that it would be acquiring the assets of Viant Technology Inc., a firm that describes itself as a people-based advertising technology company.

The name Viant may not ring a bell with most people, but it owns several digital ad technology and media companies including Specific Media, Vindico, Myspace and Xumo.

Yep, Myspace is back being owned by a traditional media company. Myspace was famously acquired by News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million when the company was the largest social networking company in the world. By 2008, however, Facebook had blown by Myspace to become the giant it is today. Myspace was then sold off to Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake jointly for around $35 million in the summer of 2011.

Just last year Interactive Media Holdings, as the company was known, rebranded itself as Viant.

Time is not playing up the Myspace portion of this acquisition, of course. Instead, the publisher of Sports Illustrated and People, is looking at the acquired company’s data services to help Time Inc. build digital advertising capabilities – particularly in regards to mobile devices and television.

“This acquisition is game changing for us,” said Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp in the company’s announcement. “Marketers are selecting media partners that have either data-driven capabilities or premium content; we will be able to deliver both in a single platform, and will stand apart from those that offer just one or the other. In other words, we will be able to deliver advertisers’ messages targeted to optimal audiences across all types of devices, along with the ability to measure ROI.”

The company said they wanted the acquisition to enable it to combine premium content, subscriber and visitor data, and advertising inventory with Viant’s first-party data and targeting capabilities. Specifically, Time Inc. said Viant can help with targeting ad delivery, linking devices back to real people, and converting ad spending to actual sales.

On the investor conference call, CEO Ripp said that the company aims to credit $100 million in digital advertising to Viant in 2016.

No price was disclosed for the acquisition, but the company’s cash balance will be down around $85 million in the next quarter because of acquisitions. The company is ending 2015 with $711 million in cash. Time received $623 million in net proceeds from the sale of its Blue Fin Building in the UK.

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