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‘Nothing makes sense anymore’: What’s driving ad tech’s latest consolidation wave

Digiday 23 Feb 2021 05:01
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February 23, 2021 by Seb Joseph

The latest wave of consolidation is in full swing and it’s scrappier than ever. 

Magnite and Spotx. Verve and Nexstar’s digital platform for video ads. Smart Adserver and Capital Croissance. Liveramp and Datafleets. District M and Sharethrough. Kubient. Pubmatic. And now Viant. Those are just some of the more notable mergers, acquisitions and IPOs that have occurred in recent months. In fact, the pace of deals has accelerated to a point that’s left some onlookers puzzled and for good reason. 

Investors, whether they’re private or public, seem fine with big, initially costly consolidation of ad tech companies. This is largely because revenue growth, not profit, drive corporate value right now. Put another way: It’s as if investors forgot that ad tech is steeped in a lot of uncertainty right now. 

Take Criteo. It’s valued now at $1.9 billion. A year ago Criteo’s stock crashed to a 52-week low after Google said it would block the cookies the ad tech vendor uses to retarget people in the Chrome browser. Google still intends to make its move sometime next year. And as it stands, no one has a viable alternative. Yet, Criteo is worth more today than it was a year ago.

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