2014 Summer Roundup: The Programmatic Space

Summer is crawling to its unofficial close -- Labor Day is Monday -- and like last summer, I have provided a rundown of what occurred in the programmatic space these past few months. The summer months may seem slow at times, but the programmatic space was moving full steam ahead -- most notably in the area of M&A marketing industry consolidation. Let's take a look.

Industry Consolidation: M&A Activity

  • Attribution is all the rage. Google acquired Adometry, AOL acquired Convertro and Rakuten Marketing acquired DC storm. AppNexus also acquired Alenty, a viewability measurement firm. Attribution and media measurement was a focus of summer 2014 M&A activity in the programmatic space. 
  • Facebook buys LiveRail. In a bid to compete with Google and AOL in the digital video ad space, Facebook dished out a reported (per TechCrunch) $400 to $500 million to acquire LiveRail, the programmatic video ad platform that was expected to go public at some point this year.
  • Rocket Fuel acquires [x+1]. This was another big move regarding intra-industry M&A activity. Rocket Fuel paid $230 million for [x+1], a company that has both a demand-side platform (DSP) and a data management platform (DMP). The move could help Rocket Fuel regain some business lost to the in-house programmatic trading teams that agencies and/or brands are building for themselves, as [x+1] is a proven provider in that space. Others also believe the DMP is what attracted Rocket Fuel to [x+1].
  • RTL Group buys majority stake in SpotXchange. SpotXchange, a supply-side platform (SSP) for programmatic video advertising, found a buyer overseas in RTL Group, a large European media company. RTL spent $144 million to acquire a 65% majority stake in SpotXchange. RTL could buy the remaining shareholding in the future.

The Headlines: A quick-and-dirty guide to some of the trends we saw this summer

  • Real-time marketing at the World Cup. Some of it was good, most of it was bad, and some of it was really bad. It sure was fun to watch, though (both the games and the tweets).
  • Viewability, viewability, viewability. The Media Rating Council (MRC) lifted its advisory on using viewability as a currency for video advertising. (And people were subsequently confused about what those video viewability standards actually were.) The aforementioned company Alenty was acquired by AppNexus. Some “viewable only” ad exchanges cropped up. Viewability was one of the hottest topics over the summer.
  • Native and programmatic getting in bed together. NativeX, InMobi/Rubicon and Taboola all made moves to mesh programmatic and native over the summer. Another company — PubNative — launched as a mobile supply-side platform with a focus on native.
  • Programmatic crosses milestone: 90% of buyers use it. The data came from an AOL study released in August. Over 90% of advertisers now use programmatic in some capacity, and most expect to use it even more in the coming months.
  • TubeMogul kept the ad tech IPO trend alive. The programmatic video ad platform announced its intentions to go public in the spring, but the bell didn’t actually ring until July. The company didn’t raise as much in its IPO as expected, but just recently turned in solid Q2 results.

The Hyperbabbles: Straight from the most jargon-tastic press releases
  • “[Company], a leading global technology company that specializes in digital performance advertising, today announced the roll-out of significant technical enhancements to its proprietary prediction and recommendation engine, The [Company] Engine, after more than three years in the making. The new technology shatters previous performance benchmarks..."
  • "'This is a perfect match!’ said [Person], Chief Technology Officer at [Company 1]. ‘[Company 1] will continue to ramp up our leading-edge R&D for online publishers. Together with [Company 2], we will use our combined knowhow in real-time optimization, data management, user experience, operations and quality, to offer an unprecedented full service, holistic solution to both publishers and broadcasters. The enormous challenges facing linear broadcasters in the digital revolution will be the focus of our technology roadmap.’”
  • "The [Company] [Product] is a revolutionary programmatic RTB platform that integrates [Company’s] unique patent-pending LBS technology (the [Company] [Technology] or [acronym]) into our proprietary RTB bidder, enabling the most intelligent and sophisticated location data analysis and location-powered RTB buying platform available."

"Sunset" image from Shutterstock.
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1 comment about "2014 Summer Roundup: The Programmatic Space".
  1. Nathan Allen from MultiView , August 29, 2014 at 5:08 p.m.
    This is a great post, Tyler! While 90% of advertisers currently use some form of programmatic in their marketing plan, we are likely to see a dramatic increase in not only the percentage of advertisers using this platform, but also an increase in total spend.