The MCN world isn’t the only one that’s been the target of investments and acquisitions. Digital advertising technology providers, which in some ways share similarities with MCNs (many of which are YouTube ad networks, after all), have also been ripe for the picking.
In the past couple of years, nearly all of the biggest US-based ad-tech companies have been acquired — often by some of the biggest media companies on the planet. Here are seven:
Facebook bought up LiveRail in summer 2014 for somewhere between $400 and $500 million. Founded in 2007, the company is one of the biggest in the US — in February 2015, comScore ranked it first in the US with more than 3.7 billion impressions on desktops alone. The measurement firm said LiveRail reached more than 46.5% of the US population in that time.
2. Yahoo and BrightRoll
Not long after Facebook’s purchase of LiveRail, Yahoo shelled out $640 million for video advertising platform BrightRoll. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer said the purchase “will accelerate the growth of both companies,” as BrightRoll would reach more global advertisers through Yahoo. BrightRoll has worked with a number of brands like Comcast, Ford, Verizon, and Google, among many others, and some major ad agencies.
3. AOL and Adap.tv
Setting a precedent for the above acquisitions, AOL bought programmatic video ad platform Adap.tv for $405 million in August 2013. At the time, Adap.tv serviced 83 of AdAge’s top 100 advertisers and 70 of comScore’s top 100 digital publishers. This was an important move for AOL back then, because it made the company more of a viable YouTube competitor. Over one and a half years later, AOL has built an entire video ecosystem around its AOL On network and the Adap.TV technology, pulling everything into a complete offering called One by AOL.
4. RTL Group and SpotXChange
RTL Group acquired a majority stake, 65%, in SpotXChange for $144 million in summer 2014, part of the major wave of ad tech company acquisitions with Yahoo and Facebook. The European broadcaster had been pouring some serious money into digital video, having put $36 million into MCN BroadbandTV the year before and continually financing the production and distribution of digital video via its subsidiary, FremantleMedia. The next step, of course, was monetizing all that content with ads. SpotXChange’s clients include publishers The Atlantic, Meredith, and NDN.
5. Google and Adometry
In May 2014, Google acquired Adometry for an undisclosed sum. The company focuses on attribution, or customers’ internet behavior, as it tracks their digital paths to purchases. This makes sense for the YouTube owner, which focuses its ad strategy pretty heavily on a user’s searches and assumed interests.
6. Comcast and FreeWheel
At the time of the acquisition, which cost Comcast somewhere in the neighborhood of $360 million, FreeWheel served some of the biggest online video providers — including TV networks — in the US, with clients ranging from AOL to Vevo. The company is also well-known for providing one of the most robust quarterly reports on the state of the digital advertising market, with data supported by billions of streams across the company’s client network.
Most recent of all these acquisitions, media company Nexstar bought up ad tech company Yashi for a mere (in comparison) $33 million. Yashi offers programmatic tech and analytics serves on its digital video ad platform, letting advertisers keep track of their ad campaigns and optimize them accordingly. Nexstar counts a number of TV stations in its media portfolio, but it’s working to up its digital media portfolio, adding ad tech on top of its March 2014 purchase of Internet Broadcasting Systems, a digital publishing platform for video and other editorial content.