Big Tech Throws Its Weight Around; Quartile Acquires Sidecar

Comic: The Wrong Side Of The Tracks

Rules For Thee, Not For We

Leaked emails reveal the horse trading between Microsoft and Apple to bring Xbox games to iPhones, The Verge reports. (Microsoft settled on web-based gaming to avoid app store fees.) 

Also this week, YouTube and Roku signed a last-minute distribution deal. In the hardball negotiation, Roku exposed Google’s domineering style, claiming Google demanded preferential search treatment and special built-in voice and data features. 

These are just the latest in a drumbeat of reports about how Big Tech operates behind closed doors. 

The “Jedi Blue” deal between Google and Facebook was exposed in an antitrust suit this year. That arrangement featured Google undercutting header bidding, a counterweight to its programmatic advantage, by offering Facebook lower ad fees and exclusive data capabilities if Facebook channeled demand to Google, rather than header bidding providers. 

In 2018, Amazon became a first-party Apple seller – sweetening the offer by cracking down on used Apple product resellers and removing competitors from search terms. That shook loose a flurry of contracts: Apple TV+ came to Fire TV, Amazon Prime arrived on Apple TV and, a year later, Amazon Prime allowed subscriptions and purchases through Apple TV, reportedly because Apple relaxed its subscription fees for Amazon.

Add To Cart

The ecommerce ad platform Quartile has acquired the ecommerce ad platform Sidecar. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sidecar had raised $34 million and employs around 200 people. The combined business will retain only the Quartile brand and comprise some 300 employees. 

The two companies have similar offerings, but Quartile is tailored toward brand-name CPGs and Amazon aggregators. Thrasio, Clorox and Unilever are among its blue-chip clients. Sidecar is bigger with retailers, DTC brands and ecommerce apps. 

The deal will expand Quartile’s ecommerce marketing footprint and help it diversify away from potential overdependence on Amazon.

About 70% to 80% of Quartile’s conversions currently go to Amazon, CRO Canaan Schladale-Zink told AdExchanger. On the other hand, two-thirds of its sellers are multichannel, with meaningful sales happening on other platforms, too. 

“Amazon is the gorilla in the room when it comes to ecommerce, especially commerce or retail media in the US,” he said. But an important measure of success for ecommerce entrepreneurs is the number of channels where they can sustain sales.

Schladale-Zink said expanding to brick-and-mortar retailers is more attractive to many brands than boosting Amazon sales.

Pick Me!

More and more CTV players are vying for viewers’ attention – but some households are starting to cut back, according to a recent TVision study reported by MediaPost.

TVision looked at consumption across streaming app distributors, such as Roku, as well as on-demand providers, like Sling TV. And here’s a sobering stat: The average number of streaming apps or services per household dropped to 7.2 in 2021, down from 7.7 per household in Q4 of last year.

So, who’s making the cut? TVision says US viewers are increasingly opting for ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) over subscription video on demand (SVOD). Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they watch an AVOD CTV app, up 9.3% from a year ago, while the number of people who use a subscription streaming service dropped more than eight points to 32%.

With more competitors sweating it out for subs on the playing field, it seems viewers can find at least some of the content they want without paying, or at least get by with fewer options. Another factor: Consumers may finally have reached the saturation point of subscription streaming options, and people are starting to systematically cut down their monthly payments.

But Wait, There’s More!

Carolyn Everson leaves Instacart over “mismatched priorities.” [Ad Age]

Big cloud companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, spend on national research projects because they want access to the data firehoses. [Protocol]

The US and UK governments are partnering to offer prizes to advance the development of privacy-enhancing technologies, or PETs. (Add that one to the acronym bank.) [release]

Facebook is still misclassifying ads. [tweet]

Best Buy removes TCL smart TVs carrying Google’s TV OS due to software issues. [The Verge]

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