Time Inc., the world renowned US publishing company, has announced the acquisition of performance marketing company Viant.

The announcement came as part of Time’s earnings call today (February 11), where the company disclosed that it had acquired the majority stake of the ad tech group, which specialises in people-based marketing and measurement.

Time’s vast pools of content, subscriber data and ad inventory coupled with Viant’s programmatic capabilities and ownership of sites like MySpace will place the publishing group in a formidable position.

Access to first-party data, with the additional means to utilise it effectively, could even make Time a fierce competitor to ad tech leaders Google and Facebook.

A game-changer

“This acquisition is game changing for us,” said Time Inc. chairman and CEO Joe Ripp.

“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.”

Put simply, Viant’s technology will allow Time to deliver advertisers’ messages targeted to a relevant audience, across devices, along with the ability to measure ROI.

Speaking on Time’s interests, Viant CEO Tim Vanderhook claims the group knew its “data and technology story” was solid, having a year ago launched a people-based platform with its Advertising Cloud.

Vanderhook emphasises that the merging of the two companies is on the basis of a ‘marriage’ between first-party data and premium content.

The legacy publishing industry has been experimenting with performance advertising for some time and it’s certainly not Time’s first step in that direction, having announced a partnership with native ad platform Outbrain just over a year ago.

However, claiming a direct stake in an ad tech company clearly represents a more significant step into the industry.