The Big Story: Ad Tech’s 2021 Payout

The Big Story podcast

A lot happened in 2021. This episode of The Big Story tries to cover as much as possible about where we’ve been to prep for the year to come.

IPOs were a big theme. Going into 2022, the conversation will likely shift to how companies perform on the public markets. Will there be a Rocket Fuel in the mix, poisoning investors to the field of ad tech (again)? Or will performance strengthen?

Like that one year when all your friends got married, in 2021, small ad tech companies got bought up, and many of the big companies buying them went public, leaving just a handful of singletons on the scene.

Media, meanwhile, followed a similar pattern of consolidation, as companies sought scale to help them weather challenges ahead and look more attractive to advertisers. But BuzzFeed’s lackluster IPO means that many other media companies will table plans for IPOs or SPACs, leaving their shell companies, well, just shells.

Then there’s the year ahead in data privacy. The blows this year have come from all sides.

Government regulation is intensifying, both in terms of lawmaking – although don’t expect a federal privacy law in 2022 – and enforcement. The FTC is settling with ad tech companies over privacy violations, GDPR‘s shadow continues to loom large, and Apple is coming up with more ways to thwart identification – all while cookie alternatives are hitting potholes.

But one thing is certain: The road ahead in data privacy will be bumpy and full of blind spots, as the industry prepares for Chrome to finally start phasing out third-party cookies at the end of the year (or so Google says).

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