Advertisers emerge as buyers for ad tech - DigiDay | The CYDigital Blog |
The slump in optimism around ad tech and martech businesses hasn’t been enough to deter a growing number of advertisers. So far this year, several high-profile advertisers have swooped for companies that sat on the periphery of the ad tech and mar tech sectors. McDonald’s bought personalization platform in March, Walmart snapped up ad tech startup Polymorph Labs to deliver more relevant ads to online shoppers in April, Nike bet on predictive analytics company Celect in August; travel startup OYO Hotels and Homes-bought Danamica, a Copenhagen-based startup that specializes in dynamic pricing through machine learning in September; and the same month MasterCard cut a deal for customer data platform SessionM.

As different as the acquired businesses are to one another, none of them can be described as a core part of an ad tech or martech stack — i.e., a demand-side platform, an ad server, a content marketing platform or search engine optimization tools. None of those types of businesses are easy to manage. Agencies and publishers have tried to make those deals work in the past and struggled to varying degrees. When mobile phone operator Three kicked off a search to acquire a DSP in the first quarter of the year, for example, the procurement process quickly ground to a halt, said one consultant with knowledge of the plan on condition of anonymity. With the latest wave of acquisitions, however, advertisers aren’t trying to shoehorn sprawling ad businesses that weren’t developed with them in mind. Instead, they’re eyeing smaller but arguably more strategic vendors that can turbocharge specific objectives.