The past two months have been some of the busiest M&A times we have seen in the history of the Internet marketing space. Over $10.5 billion was spent on “real” marketing services and technology companies by Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and WPP. So what does this mean for the marketer trying to navigate the complex marketplace? Is it now easier or more difficult to navigate?
Let’s quickly look at the four transactions and theorize what the corporate wizardry was thinking.
Internet Advertising domination and truck loads of cash comes to mind when thinking about Google and Doubleclick. It is easy to see how Google could covet a prize like the ad serving king. Doubleclick provides ad serving for the largest advertisers and the largest publishers online. This allows Google to extend auction-based media across excess inventory on premium sites while integrating their platform for advertisers into the Dart system. Not to mention investors were wondering what Google needed billions in cash for.
When thinking about Right Media, Yahoo! is considering the ability to monetize its pages better while extending its influence across other third party sites. Right Media is the clear leader in the auction-based display media through its RM Exchange. The marketplace that brings advertiser and publishers together is a great idea and the inclusion of premium ad space on the exchange will surely increase the community’s appetite for this type of media buying.
Microsoft went after one of the most highly respected marketing services companies in the space. aQuantive built a three-pronged marketing services and technology company that services hundreds of advertises with services ranging from agency services, ad serving and media sales on a performance basis. Microsoft’s needs were simple: advertisers and advertiser services. They have more inventory than any other web property and clearly their wants were fulfilled with the aQuantive acquisition. Media sales and aggregation of user data from adserver Atlas will surely help to monetize the dearth of media space available via MSN.
WPP’s acquisition of 24/7 Media is coming at it from the other side by adding media sales and technology services to a traditional agency model. WPP seems to be taking a page out of the aQuantive play book. WPP is one of the largest buyers of media online and now ads to its products the ability to push those dollars through the RealMedia adserver and DNA SEM services to premium publisher sites represented by 24/7 and to the top tier engines.
Each acquirer has some work to do to navigate potential conflicts for their customers. Will DoubleClick unit Performics’ customers feel comfortable with Performics’ objectivity in disbursing their budgets to all the engines? How will Yahoo! about giving access to DART and Performics for their Panama API? Will Yahoo! discount their excess inventory by putting it up for auction? Will Yahoo! ever allow Contextual Text ads to compete in the auction-based media exchange for all inventory now that they have spent combine over $2B on Overture and Right Media? How about aQuantive’s AvenueA/Razorfish unit which is the largest buyer of inventory on the web across all media types. Will they place parent company before client? The same could be said for WPP and their 24/7 RealMedia search and display units.
Media buyers are sellers and Media Sellers are now buyers. One thing is clear; the old idea of what sellers and buyers were has changed forever in one month.