Millennial Media's stock price rose 28 percent Thursday after a technology news site reported the Baltimore mobile advertising firm is in talks to be sold to AOL for about $300 million.

TechCrunch cited anonymous sources who said AOL, which Verizon recently acquired for $4.4 billion, "has been in the process of buying" Millennial, but that an announcement might be weeks away.


Millennial's stock gained 41 cents to close at $1.86 a share. Analysts said a deal would make sense given the push by Verizon and AOL into mobile advertising, and the growing competition Millennial faces for its share of ad dollars.

"It's just added technology [that Verizon and AOL] are going to be able to incorporate in their stack, especially to get at the mobile ad market," said Lauren Fisher, an analyst with eMarketer.

Millennial gathers ad space across smartphone and tablet applications and mobile-friendly websites and sells it to advertisers seeking access to narrow audiences targeted by demographics, habits or location. The technology that is used to make those nuanced connections, known as "adtech," has been the target of numerous mergers and acquisitions over the past year among players including Facebook and Yahoo.

Verizon's acquisition of AOL, announced in May, was seen as a foray by the telecommunications giant into the world of content. Analysts called it a bid to not only deliver information and entertainment through its networks — which include 108.6 million wireless customers, 5.7 million FiOS video subscribers and 6.7 million Internet subscribers — but to create that content, as well.

Scott Ferber, who co-founded the online ad pioneer Advertising.com and now leads the online video advertising network Videology, said he was not surprised by the TechCrunch report.

"Millennial has a huge mobile footprint and Verizon has a huge mobile business," he said. "It makes total sense."

Millennial Media officials could not be reached for comment. An AOL spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Millennial has 200 employees in Baltimore and 600 worldwide. AOL's advertising operations, largely a remnant of the Internet pioneer's 2004 acquisition of Advertising.com, employ 250 people in Brewers Hill, a mile from Millennial's Canton headquarters.