AT&T Eyes AppNexus; Google Gives Podcasts A Boost

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AT&T is in talks to acquire AppNexus and the two companies are close to finalizing the deal, reports Cheddar. AppNexus brass are reportedly unwilling to sell for less than $2 billion. That sounds like an awful lot, but there are factors working in AppNexus’ favor. For one, AT&T is a natural fit: AppNexus is already its DSP vendor, and Brian Lesser, who leads AT&T’s Advertising and Analytics business, is a former AppNexus board member. Last week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told CNBC to expect acquisitions in the sector “in the coming weeks.” The Trade Desk’s $3.74 billion market cap also sets a benchmark for DSPs that would have been considered very optimistic a couple years ago, and AppNexus’ exchange and supply-side business could be seen as an added bonus to AT&T. More.

Hello, Google Podcasts

Google launched on Tuesday a standalone podcast app for Android phones. Having a native Android app could double the amount of podcast listeners worldwide, according to the company. The Google Podcasts app integrates with Google Assistant so podcasts can be launched with voice commands and work seamlessly across home and mobile devices. Google’s personalization also allows it to curate the app based on preference or highlight creators from underrepresented geographies and demographics, reports The Verge. Eventually Google will add closed captioning to podcasts using AI, making it easier to scan through a podcast or avoid rewinding for a missed word. Read more.

As Much As Traffic Will Bear

The California Department of Transportation wants to test the potential revenue – balanced against traffic safety issues and public pushback – of running ads on state-operated electronic message boards located along freeways, reports The Los Angeles Times. The test is expected to generate $10.2 million over four years, and if successful “could lead to ads for commercial products on many of the 904 state-operated message signs that currently are limited to flashing traffic information, road hazard warnings and Amber alerts on abducted children,” the Times reports. There’s already pushback beyond just aesthetics: More ads mean distracted drivers, while studies show drivers dismiss official traffic signs with ads. More.

Roku Channel Surfing

Roku could launch a subscription video marketplace that rivals Amazon Channels in the next few months, Variety reports. The streaming player, which already gives customers access to certain OTT channels, including HBO Now and CBS All Access, will use its yet-to-be-named marketplace to streamline and display video content in one place instead of forcing users to jump from app to app. Other OTT companies like it because the strategy has proven effective at driving subscriptions, with Amazon Channels responsible for more than half of all online HBO signups. More.

Video Blitz

Facebook unveiled several updates on Tuesday to increase video ad inventory. Facebook is opening Watch, its video hub for episodic and news content, to any video, reports Digiday. Facebook also expanded its creative production toolkit and video distribution and monetization options for influencers who post on the platform. Read the blog post on that. And Facebook Messenger, with more than 1.3 billion monthly users, is adding autoplay video a year and a half after introducing display ads. “The company has said in the past that it’s running out of room for ads inside its flagship Facebook app, so we’ve seen Facebook expand ads into more places,” writes Kurt Wagner at Recode. More.

But Wait, There’s More!

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