2022 Kicks Off With An M&A Explosion; Why Google Doesn’t Mind Getting Dethroned By TikTok

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M&A&A&A&A

Digital ad dealmaking is off to the races in 2022 like a sprinter who doesn’t realize it’s a marathon. 

On Tuesday, Human (née White Ops) raised $100 million from a new co-owner investment firm, and Integral Ad Science acquired the French startup Context, its fourth deal in a calendar year (not to mention its recent IPO). [AdExchanger has the story.]

One day later, Smartly.io, a European Facebook and social advertising company, dropped $100 million on Ad-Lib.io, a London-based Google advertising specialist, The Wall Street Journal reports.

And Magnite acqui-hired the cryptographic audience data startup Nth Party. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Magnite said that Nth Party’s five “seasoned” engineers will be joining the team.

Oh, and also on Wednesday, the CDP BlueConic sold a majority stake (although the specific sum was undisclosed) to Vista Equity Partners, a top ad tech investment firm.

This torrid pace won’t continue. Deals close in December and are held for January, so there are always a flurry of early announcements. But it’s an optimistic sign for ad tech that the steady drumbeat of exits and acquisitions will likely continue – and that important strategics and investors still hold plenty of dry powder. 

Google Always Wins

TikTok usurped Google as the most-trafficked web domain in 2021. 

But does Google care? Nope. 

Google helped TikTok take its throne, writes Kevin Indig, Shopify’s director of SEO. 

“You don’t help a competitor win every day. The only reason to do so is when you benefit more from them winning with your help than without.”

For one, having only YouTube videos in search results is a bad look. Google needs alternatives, if only to show regulators that alternatives exist … although, honestly, it’s pretty much only TikTok and Instagram out there.

But indexing TikTok videos also affords a window into TikTok’s algorithm. 

YouTube has a basic algo that offers more of the same stuff, while TikTok’s algorithm “profiles users with scary accuracy” and captures moods and content interactions in a way that predicts new things people will like. It works so well, Indig notes, that TikTok confidently pairs users with content regardless of language or how popular an account is.

In that light, losing its throne as top domain dog starts to look like a win for Google, because it gets a peak under TikTok’s hood.

“​​TikTok, on the other hand,” Indig writes, “should be concerned about entering a partnership that gives Google insight into what videos work well.”

Knock! Knock! Who’s There?

The Nielsen journey continues.

In late December, Nielsen entered alpha with its cross-platform solution, Nielsen ONE. But there’s a long road ahead before the company will be ready to replace its traditional TV ratings with a cross-platform metric. Expect Nielsen to launch and test products at an accelerated pace this year to fend off rivals and demonstrate its data-driven chops.

On Tuesday, Nielsen announced a “Streaming Signals” product to help advertisers identify who in a household is watching a show, The Drum reports. The product focuses mostly on intuitive links between content and demographics.

But … that still leaves a lot open to guesswork. Does watching “Sex and the City” and TV rom-coms really guarantee the viewer is a young woman?

To be fair, alternative TV measurement companies do use panels as a way to disentangle individuals within a household. But startups like TVision, for instance, have had audience distinguishing tools for a while.

In other words, it remains to be seen what this new Nielsen product truly brings to the table.

But Wait, There’s More!

Advertisers have big plans for audits and vendor reviews of post-cookie tech. [Digiday]

Catalina Partners and PlaceIQ collaborate on a location data offering. [release]

How Walmart Canada uses blockchain to ease supply-chain and vendor-payment issues. [HBR]

Google and Amazon deploy an army of sellers and SMBs to thwart antitrust bills. [Politico]

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2 Comments

    • Allison Schiff

      Wow … thanks for pointing that out. No one wants to repeat 2020!