Publishers Clearing House, famous for the sweepstakes it uses to draw attention to its offers of merchandise and magazine subscriptions, is acquiring a Portland-based startup that specializes in helping companies advertise on mobile devices.
Liquid Wireless, launched in 2008 by Falmouth native Jason Cianchette, will be a subsidiary of Publishers Clearing House and continue to operate from its office on Pearl Street. Cianchette will run the new division.
Cianchette, 35, who plans to announce the deal today, declined to reveal the purchase price. He said the deal includes upfront cash and additional payments based on how well Liquid Wireless performs.
The purchase will allow him to provide better health care benefits for his eight employees, reach more potential clients and hire more staff, Cianchette said.
“The focus is to continue to grow the operation,” he said in a telephone interview from New York. “I’m excited about the additional resources we have now.”
Jordan Greene, a mobile media expert who advised Publishers Clearing House on the deal, said Liquid Wireless can help the company connect its advertisers with consumers, who are increasingly using mobile devices to access Publishers’ various websites.
Liquid Wireless helps companies gain new customers through click-through ads that appear on websites and games accessed by mobile devices such as Web-enabled feature phones, smart phones and tablets.
The explosive growth of the smart phone and tablet industry means advertising companies that focus on mobile devices are in a strong position, said Matt Smith, a mobile Web developer with iBec Creative in Portland.
Whether this acquisition proves to be a good move for either party depends on how well the business plan is implemented, he said.
Use of mobile devices to access websites is expected to double within five years, and 25 percent of Web users in the United States access the Web exclusively through mobile devices, according to dotMobe, a domain dedicated to delivering the Internet to mobile devices.
Headquartered in Port Washington, N.Y., Publishers Clearing House sells merchandise and magazine subscriptions through direct mail and online. The company’s digital footprint now includes nine online properties, including PCHgames, where players can win virtual cash; PCHSearch&Win, a search engine that regularly awards cash or merchandise to those who use it to search the Web; and PCHCoupons, where users receive deals on everything from food and health care to office supplies, according to Direct Marketing News.
More than 8 million unique visitors a month access the websites owned by Publishers Clearing House.
Over the past year and a half, the company has seen a dramatic spike in the number of people using mobile devices to access its sites, said Josh Glantz, vice president and general manager for the online division of Publishers Clearing House.
He said Liquid Wireless will allow the company to build on the success it has already achieved on the Web and also provide mobile Web services to its advertisers.
“The bottom line is that we found a real gem in a company that does something similar to what we do,” Glantz said.
Cianchette said he will be looking to hire more people, particularly software developers and online marketers.
Last June, Cianchette was named one of five up-and-coming entrepreneurs by PROPEL, a networking organization for young business professionals affiliated with the Portland Regional Chamber.
Cianchette, who now lives in Cumberland, earned a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s in business administration from Dartmouth College. He founded Liquid Wireless in Boston in September 2008, and moved it Portland and hired his first employee in June 2009.
Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]