Vista Buys Majority Share In TripleLift; Vivendi Denies Havas-Publicis Merger

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Vista Acquires TripleLift

Stop me if you heard this one: Vista Equity Partners has acquired a majority stake in an ad tech firm. This time, it’s TripleLift. Read the release. Ronan Shields of Adweek claims Vista invested $1.4 billion, and the deal is expected to close Q2. Writes Shields: “TripleLift began exploring a number of exit paths late last year, including through a special purchase acquisition company, or SPAC, to go live on the public markets.” TripleLift is really known for its work delivering native ads programmatically, and according to the release, Vista will help it expand globally and into CTV. Regarding the latter, one wonders if TripleLift is a little late to the game, as other digital-first platforms (The Trade Desk, dataxu, Beeswax, MediaMath, etc) have spent the last few years making their plays in that sector. But, hey, better late than never. And it’s hard to bet against Vista’s ownership. The firm has acquired majority stakes in Integral Ad Science and Mediaocean. But it’s big success story was that after buying Marketo for $1.8 billion, it sold it two years later to Adobe for $4.8 billion.  

M&A Rumor?

Nothing to see here, move along. That’s what French media giant Vivendi said, anyway, when it attempted to shut down what it called a rumor that it was in talks to merge its advertising subsidiary Havas with larger rival Publicis Groupe. CampaignUS reports that the M&A chatter was fueled by a report from French business news service BFMTV last week, which said the ad agency group had “discussions” with Vivendi in “recent months.” BFMTV also reported that Publicis Groupe subsequently “dismissed” Vivendi. Still, the report pushed Publicis Groupe’s shares up 3% to about 52 euros, even though a Vivendi spokesperson called it an “unfounded rumour.” Publicis declined to comment and said it was not involved in the story. So why would this be a big deal? The fresh M&A speculation comes after a planned $35 billion merger of Publicis and Omnicom collapsed in 2014. Additionally, investor interest in Publicis Groupe has been mounting as the company has been among the best performers of the big six agency groups during the pandemic, after under-performing in 2019. Read on

Here’s The Pitch

Google’s upcoming phase out of third-party cookies and Apple’s looming IDFA restrictions may be causing some major panic attacks for marketers and publishers, but the clamp down on privacy and digital ad targeting has been a boon for ad tech startups trying to find workarounds like identity solutions. Business Insider reports that that’s the case with European tech startup ID5, which is building technology to work around third-party cookies. The company just clinched $6 million in Series A funding and is looking to compete with established players LiveRamp, The Trade Desk, and Lotame. ID5 pitches an ID that helps advertisers find audiences to target and make sure people don't repeatedly see the same ads. It makes money from licensing its ID to ad tech companies like PubMatic and OpenX. The company gives away its technology to publishers to grow adoption of the ID. CEO Mathieu Roche said that his firm differentiates itself by only selling identity software whereas other companies sell ads and other services to marketers. [Related in AdExchanger: When Cookies Go Away, Is There Life Beyond The Login?]

Anti-Amazon

After two decades of numerous attempts to compete with online retail giant Amazon in the ecommerce space, Google is taking a different approach. Per The New York Times, Google is trying to present itself as a cheaper and less restrictive option for independent retailers, focused on driving traffic to their ecom sites, not selling its own version of products, as Amazon does. Google has long tried to copy Amazon’s playbook to become the shopping hub of the internet, with little success. Now it is trying something different by eliminating fees for merchants and allowing merchants to list their wares in its search results for free. It is also trying to make it easier for small, independent shops to upload their inventory of products to appear in search results and buy ads on Google by teaming up with Shopify, which powers online stores for 1.7 million merchants who sell directly to consumers. Still, Google’s latest efforts shows little sign of working, since it has nothing as alluring as the $295 billion that passed through Amazon’s third-party marketplace in 2020. And the amount of goods people buy on Google is “very small” by comparison — probably around $1 billion.

But Wait, There’s More!

Global expansion may not be possible for some streaming services without rebranding, and NBCUniversal is reportedly the latest company mulling its options. [Adweek]

Facebook has put its $750 million global media account up for review, and incumbents Mindshare and Dentsu are participating in the pitch. [CampaignUS]

Post(?)-pandemic, MediaMath will abandon its World Trade Center office space, as its workers go remote. And Salesforce expects staffers in its midtown Manhattan office to be in just one to three days a week. [NYTimes]

Brands shouldn’t be stymied by connected TV ad fraud, which is mostly easy to avoid. [Ad Age]

Amazon started a Twitter war because Jeff Bezos was pissed, with snarky tweets targeting Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. [Vox]

Brands are using Facebook Shops as a showroom, but not as a conversion platform. [Glossy]

You’re Hired 

Indeed has hired Jessica Jensen as CMO. [release]

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