SMI acquired by PE firm as advertisers demand data-driven insights

    • GTCR, a private equity firm, has acquired global ad intelligence company Standard Media Index (SMI) for an undisclosed sum, according to a press release.
    • The acquisition was done through GTCR’s Dreamscape portfolio company run in partnership with marketing technology leaders Scott Knoll, David Hahn and Michael Iantosca. With the deal, SMI chief executive James Fennessy will step down and join the board of Dreamscape while remaining a consultant on the business. Knoll will fill in as CEO of SMI.
    • SMI uses data-driven insights to track more than $250 billion in annual media globally. With offices in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney and Toronto, it provides services in markets in 34 countries around the world and estimates it captures spend and pricing data representative of more than 95% of all U.S. national brand expenditure.

    Dreamscape’s acquisition of SMI is indicative of the premium that continues to be placed on businesses that can offer more marketing precision through data. SMI claims to have secured exclusive agreements with some of the world’s largest media agencies, though they weren’t listed in the release.

    SMI uses its view into ad spend, revenue, media pricing and commitments to help brands and their agency partners strategize around areas like building media mix models, analyzing competitive share of spend and establishing pricing benchmarks. Those services could be more in demand as the digital landscape gets increasingly fragmented amid the rise of channels like ad-supported streaming and connected TV, while accurate measurement is hard to come by. SMI offers ad intelligence for media channels such as linear TV, over-the-top, digital, out-of-home, print and radio, and can break out segments by ad type, publishers, product categories and more.

    Access to data-rich sources for media planning and measurement purposes might also be more desirable for marketers as third-party tracking is set to receive a blow next year with the deprecation of cookies. SMI’s corporate mission since its founding in 2009 — it was originally headquartered in Australia but relocated to New York two years later — has been bringing more transparency and efficiency to the global media market, per the release.

    “SMI’s leading data and ad intelligence products provide clients with real-time information to help drive better strategies around spend, placement and yield optimization,” said new CEO Knoll in a statement. “With the proliferation of media channels and ad types, the insights that SMI can help provide are now an essential driver of media strategy.”

    The news shows Dreamscape continuing to ramp up activity as a relative industry newcomer. The organization, which operates out of Salt Lake City, UT, was formed in 2020 between Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca and GTCR, with the goal of using dealmaking to build a leading mar-tech business.

    Dreamscape in April made a strategic investment in a company called SQAD, which runs advertising research, analytics and media-planning software, including the MediaTools, MediaLogic and MediaCosts solutions. The latter, a media benchmarking platform, has processed more than $1 trillion in transaction ad costs to date.


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