PE Firm Buys Controlling Stake In Standard Media Index.


Standard Media Index, which has grown in prominence as a tracker of media ad spending, has a new controlling stakeholder. Private equity firm GTCR has made a strategic investment in the firm through Dreamscape, a partnership with marketing technology veterans Scott Knoll, David Hahn and Michael Iantosca.


Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


CEO James Fennessy, SMI’s industry-facing executive, will step down and become a member of Dreamscape's Board of Directors and consult the business. Knoll has taken over as CEO.


SMI’s data-driven approach to track media spending has made it a favorite among ad agencies and other clients which use it in determining media mix models, competitive share of spend and pricing benchmarks. Through arrangements with major agency holding companies, SMI captures spend and pricing data that represents more than 95% of all U.S. national brand expenditure and tracks over $250 billion dollars of annual media spend globally.


“With the proliferation of media channels and ad types, the insights that SMI can help provide are now an essential driver of media strategy,” Knoll said in a statement. “The SMI team has built a truly unique offering and, together with our partners at GTCR, we believe there is an opportunity to further advance the platform and drive growth across the business."


The investment in SMI is the second by Dreamscape. Last month it announced an investment in SQAD, which provides advertising research, analytics, and media planning software.


Craig Bondy, Managing Director and Co-Head of TMT at GTCR, said the investment in SMI will allow the data provider to expand its product portfolio “to address new markets and create fully integrated solutions for its customers. We are excited to partner with the SMI team and advance its mission,” Bondy said.


SMI was co-founded by Sue Fennessy and Jane Ractliffe in 2009 in Australia and moved headquarters to New York in 2011. Fennessy served as CEO until 2016. James Fennessy, who had been Chief Commercial Officer, then assumed the role of CEO.


"Today is an important milestone for the entire SMI team, our partners and our clients, as we look toward our next stage of growth," said James Fennessy. "This investment is a culmination of Sue's vision for SMI and a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the SMI team that has enabled us to transform how transparent ad cost and spend data is used by the industry.”

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