IronSource Goes Public; Amazon Making Big Demands Of Vendors

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SPAC Attack

Mobile gaming monetization and ad tech provider IronSource began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), with the goal of raising $2 billion in capital at an $11 billion valuation. The IPO comes three months after IronSource announced that it was being taken over by Thoma Bravo, a public company that specializes in SPAC deals. Trading began at $11.25 per share, but was down 1.79% by midday. The company has earmarked the $2 billion or so in capital from the IPO for potential M&A to expand its platform for app developers, according to Reuters. Performance-based marketers that build their businesses on mobile games or apps have skyrocketed in popularity and ad spend. IronSource co-founder and CRO Omer Kaplan told AdExchanger in April that investors now realize that mobile gaming is fueling major growth in mobile data and marketing.

Where’s Your Warrant?

It’s no secret that Amazon acquires many product brands that operate in its marketplace, and for others it sometimes offers seller advantages like inventory and advertising guarantees in exchange for an ownership stake. But Amazon has taken that strategy a step further by demanding warrants – the right to purchase stock in a public company at a specific price in the future – for companies that want to be a vendor for Amazon, The Wall Street Journal reports. The grocery distributor SpartanNash, for instance, saw its contract with Amazon Fresh amended last year with a new condition: If Amazon buys $8 billion over seven years, it can purchase up to 15% of the company at a potentially advantageous rate. And Amazon has the right to review and counter any acquisition offer. Warrants are typical for a company that’s backing another public company in financial straits. Amazon’s warrants are tough to reject, since the news alone that the vendor is working with Amazon can bolster the stock price by double-digit rates. But it means that in five to 10 years, Amazon might be the largest or second-largest shareholder for many ostensibly independent vendors it works with for grocery supplies, shipping, call center management and other business operations. 

Validation

The IAB Tech Lab is making it easier to spot blatant fraud in the online supply chain, with a new tool that shines a light down dark programmatic pipes. The organization launched an automated tool called Supply Chain Validation that publishers can use to validate sellers by “cross-checking” information listed in the IAB Tech Labs’ two core transparency specifications, ads.txt and sellers.json, Adweek reports. Ads.txt lets publishers declare which intermediaries are authorized to sell their inventory, while SSPs and exchanges use sellers.json to validate their sell-side relationships to ad buyers. The new tool eliminates manual processes (aka checking whether ads.txt and sellers.json listings are legit) and human error, since it runs daily checks for ads.txt and sellers.json directories, according to the release. Publishers will also be able to identify irregularities if intermediaries incorrectly reference them in sellers.json files

But Wait, There’s More!  

A Black-owned media collective launched Tuesday with a $75 million commitment by WPP. [WSJ]

Tech startup Forum Brands raised $27 million to fuel its ecommerce acquisition platform during a boom in online shopping. [TechCrunch]

Marriot Bonvoy, its travel loyalty program, is using TikTok to promote post-COVID travel plans [Campaign]. Meanwhile, the short-form video platform is so hot right now that publishers and agencies want a piece of TikTok ad dollars as more brands try to reach Gen Zers. [Ad Age]

Verizon Media and shopper intelligence provider Catalina have teamed up to embed shopper marketing and in-store purchase data in Verizon’s advertising ID solution. [Digiday]

Predictive analytics company Retina, which measures LTV for brands, raises $8 million [Insider]

You’re Hired

Nundu Janakiram joined Cameo to lead its product team. [Twitter]

MRM hired Maggie Connors as global chief growth officer. [CampaignUS]

S4M taps Cameron V. Peebles as global chief marketing officer. [release]

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