GTCR’s Dreamscape Acquires Ad Data Firm SMI

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CHICAGO, Ill.—The private equity firm GTCR has acquired Standard Media Index (SMI), a major global advertising intelligence and ad data company. 

GTCR made the acquisition through one of its portfolio companies, Dreamscape, Inc., which is a partnership between GTCR and marketing technology veterans Scott Knoll, David Hahn and Michael Iantosca.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

As part of the transaction, SMI's CEO James Fennessy, will step down from his current position and will become a member of Dreamscape’s board of directors and remain a consultant to the business. 

Knoll will assume the role of CEO of SMI, effective immediately.

“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 Knoll. “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 company’s deep relationships with clients and agency partners are underpinned by its customer-centric approach and its commitment to innovation. 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.”

SMI is a well-established provider of advertising data and insights. With offices in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney and Toronto, SMI provides global data services and insights to markets in 34 countries around the world. In their major markets, SMI captures spend and pricing data that represents more than 95% of all U.S. national brand expenditure.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dreamscape was founded in May 2020 as a partnership between Messrs. Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca and GTCR. The partnership’s focus is to acquire companies and assets as part of a strategy to build a leading marketing technology business.

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

“We see tremendous upside potential in SMI and its advertising software solutions,” said Craig Bondy, managing director and co-head of TMT at GTCR. “The Company is well-positioned in the marketing and advertising industry with deep relationships with its partners and customers which have served it well. We believe that our investment, alongside the Dreamscape team, will provide the resources to expand SMI’s current 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.”

“GTCR has a long track record of investing in the marketing and advertising technology sector and SMI has long been an innovative leader which we have admired for its data intelligence tools,” added Stephen Master, principal at GTCR. “The opportunity to partner with the SMI team and drive forward its innovation is one that we were incredibly enthusiastic about. We believe that the combination of SMI’s data tools and its culture of delivering for clients is truly exceptional.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.