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Millennial Media CEO Michael Barrett (photo from Millennial Media website)

AOL reported in talks to buy Millennial Media

Millennial Media Inc. surged the most in three years after TechCrunch reported that AOL Inc. is in talks with the mobile-advertising company about a possible acquisition.

Millennial jumped 28 percent to $1.86 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day gain since March 2012. The shares have advanced 16 percent this year.

AOL, which was purchased by Verizon Communications Inc. for $4.4 billion last month, might pay between $300 million and $350 million for Millennial, TechCrunch said. AOL had considered the deal before it was acquired by Verizon, according to the report, which cited unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.

Expanding its reach in mobile advertising would help boost Verizon’s revenue as more people watch videos and other content on mobile devices. More than 60 percent of digital media consumption in the U.S. happens on mobile devices, according to ComScore’s 2014 survey.

A call and an e-mail sent to Millennial spokeswoman Christina Feeney weren’t immediately returned. An AOL spokesman declined to comment.

News of the possible acquisition comes on the heels of Millennial Media releasing a report in June that found mobile advertising, which the company specializes in, overtaking desktop ads in the importance of marketing a brand. The reports predictions are based on mobile ads producing more engagement than desktop counterparts, and their ability to better reach targeted audiences.

In December Millennial completed its purchase of Nexage, which provides real time bidding technology to automate the buying and selling of mobile advertising, for approximately $107.5 million in cash and stock.

The company’s stock has performed poorly recently, and former CEO and founder Paul Palmieri resigned in January 2014. He was replaced by Michael Barrett, who previously served as chief revenue officer at Yahoo.

Last quarter Millennial, which has a $5.5 million headquarters space at The Can Company property in Canton, lost $19.8 million on $63.2 million of revenue. During the same quarter the year before the company suffered a $12.9 million loss on revenues of $72.6 million.

Palmeri founded the company in 2006, and it initially worked out of the Baltimore incubator Emerging Technology Centers. The company, which went public in 2012, enjoyed early success as its mobile ad focus positioned it to take advantage of that market segment as smartphones and tablets became ubiquitous.