Great Hill teams up with Gorilla Nation

Private equity firm Great Hill Partners is investing $50 million in ad network service Gorilla Nation.

The deal will give Boston-based Great Hill Partners a minority stake in Gorilla Nation, who for the first time is receiving financing since its founding in 2001 by Aaron Broder and Brian Fitzgerald.

“In the last couple of years ad networks were the dogs that didn’t bark,” said Tolman Geffs, managing director of Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc., New York, an investment bank that represented Gorilla Nation in the deal. “Suddenly ad networks are trading.”

Gorilla Nation represents more than 500 leading Web publishers, selling integrated media and promotional programs to Fortune 500 brand advertisers.

“Unlike most ad networks who are focused on direct response, Gorilla Nation is branding focused,” Mr. Geffs said. “It’s a sharp response on the branding side of the Web.”

Los Angeles-based Gorilla Nation operates in several business units, including advertising technology development, online marketing services and Web content publishing.

“The deal allows us to extend our marketing services within both the U.S. market and abroad and it allows us to acquire complementary businesses,” said Aaron Broder, co-founder and CEO of Gorilla Nation. “It’s a very competitive environment in all aspects of digital media right now.

“Larger companies are now trying to encompass broader marketing services but we believe that our core focus in catering to brand marketers in the display space will always keep us a leg ahead,” Mr. Broder said.

He added that Great Hill was the “best partner in that they have deep experience within the digital media and marketing services space.”

Their investment will allow Gorilla Nation to continue to grow its reach into new categories of sites.

“One thing we we’re trying to do was expand our base of sites that we were representing,” Mr. Broder said. “We’ve basically gone from our roots of representing mostly entertainment and lifestyle sites to categories that now include health and auto.”

In addition, Gorilla Nation will expand its staff from 120 to 200 in six offices in four countries.

“We want to expand into other content verticals with this capital infusion,” Mr. Broder added.

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