Do you think there's a need for better engagement models with digital advertising? 21st Century Fox agrees with you. Today the company announced it is buying true[x] media, a digital advertising company focused on driving more consumer engagement with advertising.

Although the terms of the deal were not announced the Wall Street Journal reported the deal size at $200 million.

The deal shows that despite the plethora of advertising formats and technologies, media markers and consumers are still not fully satisfied with the digital advertising experience. Concerned about the metrics and engagement levels ads are delivering, media companies are looking for better advertising solutions, especially those that can prove more value for their customers. 

The Marchese Mantra

True[x] founder and CEO Joe Marchese has been an outspoken critic of the current advertising market, pointing out that engagement with digital ads has been in a long-term decline and that the industry drive for more volume has diluted ad value.  Marchese told last February that the current ad world is in a "downward spiral" because of the focus on driving up the number of impressions, which incentivizes fraud, an industry problem. Marchese took two years off from true[x] to  work in television to learn more about the advertising market.

Based in New York City, true[x] focuses on driving viewer engagement with ads by delivering them in a whole new way. It delivers ads that are "opt in only," meaning a viewer only sees them when they want to. The ads are also full screen and interactive, and true[x] claims its metrics proves that these types of ads deliver a higher level of engagement.

The company presents a lot of evidence that its approach works. In fact, AdWeek recently reported that in a test, video streaming site DramaFever said that 63 percent of its viewers chose to opt-in to the true[x] ads and that of those viewers 86 percent watched the ad for at least 30 seconds and completed at least one interaction. The irony is that if you click and read that AdWeek article, an annoying (non-true[x]) video ad will pop up to disturb your reading experience. Maybe Marchese is onto something. 

Murdoch Connections

True[x] was founded in 2007 and originally called SocialVibe. Its clients include some of the world’s top consumer brands, including Microsoft, Visa, Apple, Disney, Coca-Cola, Kia, Kraft, Macys, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and others. James Murdoch, who is the co-COO of 21st Century Fox and was an individual investor in true[x], was a big supporter of the approach. Murdoch was also on the board of true[x] at the time of the acquisition. 

“The connections between brands and consumers have continued to evolve within digital video environments, and true[x] is at the center of this vital area of innovation,” said James Murdoch in a prepared release. 

True[x] had raised about $50 million, with investors including Pinnacle Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Jafco Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures. 

21st Century Fox and true[x] said that true[X] will work closely with Fox Networks Group, using the true[x] ad platform to drive engagement on Fox’s proprietary digital platforms.