2022 M&A Stays Crazy; Apple’s App Privacy Report Lifts The Hood On Trackers

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The “Solid” In Consolidation

Are you sick of hearing about M&A already?

TOO BAD! We’ve still got multiple deals being announced on the regular. 

On Wednesday, the publisher services company OpenWeb – known for operating comment sections and targeting ads by user account IDs – dropped $60 million to buy Hive Media Group, a publisher data and distribution company, Insider reports. OpenWeb was fresh off a $150 million fundraising round in November of last year.  

Also on Wednesday, Precisely, a data onboarding and enrichment company, acquired the location data provider PlaceIQ. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by Clearlake Capital and TA Associates, the two private equity firms that bought Precisely last year. But PlaceIQ marks Precisely’s fifth acquisition since then.

A day earlier saw a smattering of smaller deals: Kantar picked up the retail trade marketing analytics company MindIT; Salesforce marketing automation specialist Datarati went to OSF Digital; and The Arena Group (formerly Maven Inc.), an ad tech and digital media owner, bought the magazine title Parade – not to mention Microsoft’s $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. That wasn’t so small, but it was a good deal.

Don’t Ask And Do Tell

Apple’s privacy march didn’t stop with the IDFA opt-in. With iOS 15.2, released in mid-December, device owners have an App Privacy Report that shows which apps access their data – and which third-party domains those apps are contacting.

In many cases, apps are contacting potential trackers, even when permission is not granted.

According to research released on Thursday by deep-linking platform URLgenius, the average app contacts 15 third-party networks, and in many cases info is shared regardless of whether the app has consent.

It’s not a good look. The question is: Are the apps themselves aware of what’s going on? Yes and no, said Brian Klais, CEO and founder of URLgenius.

“To me, this lives somewhere between blissful ignorance – not wanting to know how the sausage gets made – and plausible deniability,” Klais tells AdExchanger.

Apps have always been “a bit of a black box,” he says. “The tools simply haven’t existed to see what kind of third-party network contacts an app makes upon being opened or while being used, [but] now, for the first time, any of us with iOS 15.2 can do the app equivalent of right clicking on ‘view source’ and see what is going on under the hood.” Read on.

The VC-Backed Marketing Trap

Gorillas Technologies, the rapid delivery service startup, has named Luanne Calvert as its CMO, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Gorillas needs to stand out and build brand awareness because it competes in a suddenly crowded category alongside the likes of Gopuff, Jokr, Getir, Fridge No More and Buyk. 

Rapid delivery is in a classic venture capital marketing deadlock, whereby too many well-backed companies are pursuing a market that might support one or two of them (maybe), but not half a dozen direct competitors undercutting each other by acquiring new users at unsustainable marketing rates. So what happens next? Well, not profitability. And what happens after that? No doubt they’ll all launch ad platforms as soon as they reach a minimum viable threshold of users. Gopuff already has. 

The same dynamic played out in other categories, such as home meal kit delivery services and ride-sharing apps. 

One New York City-based rapid delivery startup, Fifteen Twenty Inc., already threw in the towel as of December, the Journal writes. Its app now directs users to “switch your grocery service” to Getir, a one-time rival.

But Wait, There’s More!

Media optimization shows diminishing returns, so programmatic companies are trying to level up the creative. [Digiday]

Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal is evidence of its Netflix-of-gaming ambitions. [WSJ]

A bug is causing Safari and iOS browsing activity to be exposed in real time. [Ars Technica]

Three options that marketers and managers should consider to deal with potential inflation. [HBR]

Instagram launches an early test of creator subscriptions in the US. [TechCrunch]

You’re Hired!

Shoppertainment startup Firework names four execs to its leadership team. [release]

Essence Global promotes Tim Irwin to global COO. [MediaPost]

Disney names new Hulu leadership as it reorgs its streaming and DTC businesses. [Adweek]

Ascential hires Sharon Harris and Mark Mannino as SVP and EVP, respectively, for its digital commerce group. [release]

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