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Mergers and Acquisitions: Ad Tech Predictions For Fall

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PredictionsIt’s time to put on the AdExchanger.com Swami hat and look ahead as the ad tech ecosystem continues to bubble and mergers and acquisitions abound with Fall approaching.

Through the end of the year, AdExchanger.com sees many possibilities. Let’s Swami-fy, shall we?

Prediction #1

This one’s been bouncing around the ecosystem forEVER… ever since the company received $50 million in funding from Microsoft back in November of 2010.  AppNexus may be Microsoft’s meal ticket into the world of audience buying and it would seem that from this vantage point, anecdotally, efforts are being made to drive the next great ad revenue strategy at Microsoft – and hopefully overcome bureaucracy and political in-fighting.  Direct sales and Microsoft Media Network sales have reigned at MSN, Live.com and Hotmail but with recent announced inclusion of non-guaranteed inventory through AppNexus, momentum would seem to be inevitably building. The Microsoft display mantra centers around optimizing yield for the publisher.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Microsoft Buys AppNexus” before year end.  Probability: 90%, no, make it 91%!

Prediction #2

As AdExchanger.com has pontificated previously, the acquisition of Admeld by Google is still not approved by the Department of Justice but if they approved DoubleClick, not sure how the DOJ can reject Admeld.  is Google sewing it up in exchange-based display? They are definitely going to be the big player with the most liquidity.  Yahoo!’s Right Media Exchange remains untethered to the content mother ship. Microsoft/AppNexus has a lot of ground to gain but can carve out a solid niche.     A year from now, I could see display becoming a part of the Microsoft/Yahoo! search deal even if this makes Yahoo! Right Media chief’s Ramsey McGrory’s temples throb.  Microsoft could combine their owned and operated inventory into a premium-ish exchange led by Yahoo! and the Redmond giant’s data-rich mail inventory.

Wait wait wait… so what’s the prediction!??  The prediction is about PubMatic!  Go figure!

With Admeld gone, and the other big display players combining over an AppNexus platform, PubMatic remains a juicy plum that would work for one of two companies: Aol or Amazon.    Amazon has its own mega-property as well as the attractive IMDB inventory and some other stuff.  Also, it has its own, huge affiliate marketing business. PubMatic could optimize between the real-time bided advertisers and the current yield (or price floor) that an Amazon affiliate publisher sets for its ads (or Amazon sets for that matter).  It’s phase II of the Amazon affiliate business –  the Amazon ad network!  Or how about using PubMatic’s inventory pool to offer retargeting back to Amazon by one of three groups?: Amazon itself as it looks to drive revenues, advertisers looking to sell its own products on Amazon OR elsewhere;  affiliate network publishers looking to retarget.  Geez, these are great ideas!  I love me! Hey they’ve got the pixel on the affiliate’s page already potentially (with the delivery of an ad unit) –  why not retarget and get jiggy with some audience buying love?

(hey this is a long prediction)

But wait! Aol is also a possibility for PubMatic as they look for an RTB solution on the publisher side.   Aol has north of $400 million in cash as of their last earnings report – and CEO Tim Armstrong isn’t going to sit there and wait for the market to come to him. This guy is rolling the dice.  So, PubMatic FTW!  Or wait.. Amazon buys PubMatic!

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The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Aol or Amazon Buys PubMatic” before year end.  Probability: 93%

Prediction #3

Is CEO Tim Vanderhook finished rethinking the Specific Media media company model?  Is ValueClick still on the acquisition trail looking to secure a publisher-side RTB solution and inventory pool?  Are both of these companies looking to secure Los Angeles-area ad tech talent?  Yes, yes, yes!  It’s Rubicon Project as the acquisition candidate with their vast inventory of social display ads. This makes particular sense for Specific but don’t underestimate the importance of the acqui-hire (buying a company for its employees) – could be ValueClick or Specific.  Given the Rubicon Project’s capitalization challenges, this could be a deal.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Specific or ValueClick Buys Rubicon Project” before year end.  Probability: 69%

Prediction #4

CONTEXTWEB (ALL CAPS, BABY!) and Datran Media merge.  Take the Aperture data-driven product and apply it to CONTEXTWEB’s RTB inventory of primarily long-tail publishers and.. data drives media!  The combined entity would likely enjoy a re-brand, too, as their current brands may be looking long in the tooth or teeth on the client-side.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “CONTEXTWEB And Datran Media Merge” before year end.  Probability: 73.4%

Prediction #5

Zach Coelius finally changes his shirt and demand-side platform Triggit gets bought by Adobe!  Adobe Omniture’s near-purchase of Invite Media a year or two ago is consummated in absentia.    Through its Test-and-Target product, Triggit retargets through the exchange, aggregators and publishers (specifically, current Omniture client publishers).  The price is right for Adobe as larger DSPs wouldn’t make sense. Adobe is looking to add the DSP “feature.”  Another possibility here is Simpli.fi and the team of ad-tech-man-about-town and CEO Don Epperson, and Frost Prioleau and Paul Harrison who sold Personifi to Collective in 2008.  They’ve got access to the same inventory as Triggit – but do they have the QPS?  AdExchanger.com has no idea but the lean-and-mean DSP is needed by Adobe to fill out its marketing suite/stack.  (Sweet stack? Like it.)

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Adobe Buys Triggit or Simpli.fi” before year end.  Probability: 57.8%

Prediction #6

Hey Twitter – when are you going to play in AdExchanger.com’s audience buying world? You’ve got those tweet buttons/pixels all over hell and back, after all!  Twitter buys the inexpensive (XA has taken next to no cash) social display ad, demand-side platform (my words) XA.net and its optim.al platform focused on text creative and media buying.  More-better creative tech that enables some sort of auto-optimization on the Twitter platform.  How will optim.al work on Twitter exactly????  No idea. These are predictions.   Also, never underestimate the geo-synergy here – both companies are in SF.  If you want to sell your company, it doesn’t hurt to live in the acquirer’s hometown.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Twitter Buys XA.net” before year end.  Probability: 52.4%

Prediction #7

MediaMath decides to go full-stack or build its own marketing stack – however you want to phrase it -and buys ad summos in an all-stock deal for access to the sell-side!  Yes, you can’t get these predictions anywhere else! ad summos CEO Curt Viebranz becomes CEO of MediaMath and MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki becomes Chairman of the Board.  Viebranz reprises his role at Tacoda where he continues to propel MediaMath across the finish line either as leader of a successful private company trolling for chocolate-y, digital display ad margin or, post-Depression, Viebranz “rides herd” on the company to an Initial Public Offering as traditional agencies see the new agency model emerge.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “MediaMath Buys ad summos” before year end.  Probability: 43.2%

Prediction #8

Wal-Mart!  (Man, this coffee is good.) Yes, the Bentonville, Arkansas mega-retailer sets its sites on a retargeter as the recent acquisition of Dotomi by ValueClick ($295 million) has caught its eye. Consequently, Wal-Mart’s bottom-of-the-funnel intent data gets a double-shot of retargeting espresso.  From here, the big play is JB Rudelle’s Criteo which has been reportedly “killing it” (that’s good) in Europe and getting good traction here in the U.S. (that’s good too).  Impressive, publicized revenues in the hundreds of millions are hard to avoid. This is Wal-Mart’s biggest, strategic digital move ever. After they buy Criteo for… wait for it… $800 million… expect Wal-Mart to get in the publisher game as owned and operated entertainment channels become ever-more important to the marketer. Everybody is doing everything!

Another possibility here is Wal-Mart buying retargeter TellApart for a price likely in the Dotomi range.   The Wal-Mart acquisition sets off other acquisitions by retailers and marketers looking to have its own in-house buying ad tech.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Wal-Mart Buys Criteo (maybe TellApart)” before year end.  Probability: 39%

Prediction #9

Oracle finishes integrating Art Technology Group (acquired in November) and decides to “get busy” in display media.  AdExchanger.com goes out on a limb here (irony) and says that Oracle taps DoubleVerify and its ad verification business as the trusted agency partner provides in-roads into data-driven agencies and, by extension, the marketer.  The agency model isn’t going anywhere reasons Oracle – it’s just getting more efficient, more data-driven.  Or maybe… in an about-face, Google buys DoubleVerify? Google loves a good relationship.

The AdExchanger.com Swami says, “Oracle or Google Buys DoubleVerify” before year end.  Probability: 27%

In Conclusion

I can’t believe you made it this far.

AdExchanger.com will keep you posted about any future, bright ideas.

By John Ebbert

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