Half a billion dollars can buy a lot of independence. For the man who just sold his company for that amount, the deal represents digital freedom for advertisers, in particular.

Mediaocean agreed to acquire ad server Flashtalking for $500 million.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Flashtalking CEO John Nardone explains why he hopes it means liberation from industry giants.

Another brick in the wall

“Google, Facebook and Amazon are such dominant forces, advertisers need their own ad tech system with some weight and scale and, importantly, independence to be able to manage across all of those environments,” Nardone explains.

“(This) sets Mediaocean up now to be that end-to-end system of record, an independent ad-tech that is not at all committed to or controlled by the walled gardens.”

Mediaocean said it expects to process about $200 billion in annualized ad spend this year. It says: “The announcement comes at a critical inflection point for the advertising industry as marketers seek trusted, independent solutions to manage the rise of big tech.”

Mediaocean to Buy Flashtalking for $500 Million as it Preps IPO, WSJ

Mediaocean’s bigger boat

Mediaocean provides a suite of tools for ad agencies to be able to manage the planning, buying and billing of media across traditional media channels as well as digital.

Beet.TV’s Robert Williams writes that Mediaocean, whose roots go back to the 1960s with Donovan Systems, has been aggressive about buying software companies, including MBS and Symsys to expand into Europe, and PIN Systems and BCC AdSystems to push into the Asia-Pacific region. It also acquired 4C Insights recently to extend into social media environments.

For Nardone, adding Flashtalking closes the circle.

“Mediaocean plays at the beginning of the process in terms of the planning and managing the buying workflow,” he says. “And then they come in at the end with the billing and reconciliation of the publisher invoices, but traditionally they haven’t had a lot in the middle of that process.

“Acquiring Flashtalking and adding that now gives Mediaocean a full end to end capability for managing digital, including the development of the creative assets, the verification, the campaign management, and set up the tracking, the advanced analytics.”

Mediaocean is reportedly planning an IPO – something Nardone says ad-tech companies more than ready for after a few “failed” attempts several years ago.

The scale for scale

For Nardone, the half-a-billion sale is the culmination of a six-year-long diversification strategy.

He joined from Rocket Fuel in 2015 and was charged with giving Flashtalking, well, some rocket fuel.

“At the time, it was clear that just having dynamic creative at the heart of the platform was not going to be sufficient to have clients want to move off of DoubleClick,” he says. “We realised that better data was going to be the key to enhancing the offering.”

So Flashtalking went on its own acquisition spree, buying capabilities to give it primary ad serving dynamic, creative cookie-less tracking and advanced analytics.”

“We are now, the largest ad independent ad tech company,” Nardone claims. “We are the last ad serving platform of global scale and multi formats that are independent of any media buying platform are not owned by Google or owned by Amazon.”