Commentary

Ad Tech Played Its Part In The Biggest Tech M&A Boom Since Dotcom Bubble

A new quarterly update from Ernst & Young on mergers and acquisitions in the technology space around the globe says that “technology M&A in 3Q14 reached heights of volume and value not seen since the dot com bubble.”

Aggregate value of global Q3 2014 technology M&A activity was $73.7 billion -- which Ernst & Young calls a “post-dotcom bubble record,” which was set in Q3 2013 ($71.2 billion).

“Even inside the dot com bubble, only one quarter was ever higher,” writes Ernst & Young in its report. That quarter would be Q1 2000, when technology M&A activity was valued at an astonishing $228 billion.

The report puts the ad tech’s busy year in perspective: the flurry of M&A activity we have seen within the programmatic space in recent months is in line with what’s happening in the rest of the tech world.

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That’s not to say that ad tech didn’t play its part in the (near) record quarter. In fact, advertising and marketing technologies were targeted in over 100 deals, per the report, making it the third most-targeted sector in the quarter, behind cloud/SaaS businesses and smart mobility. In addition, “Big Data” companies were targeted around 75 times, making it the fourth most-targeted sector in M&A deals last quarter.

The report notes that video technologies were hot last quarter, including “video advertising platforms [and] analytics for video advertising,” among others. The report notes that Facebook, Google and Yahoo “all did deals targeting such technologies,” but added that the prices were small or not disclosed. SpotXchange’s $144 sale to European broadcaster The RTL Group is also mentioned in the report.

Video has stayed hot in Q4 -- with arguably Yahoo’s biggest move happening just this week, as the company announced its acquisition of programmatic video ad platform BrightRoll for $640 million.

“In all, there were more than 100 deals targeting advertising and marketing technologies and more than 40 targeting location-tracking technologies (some of which are also included in the advertising and marketing count),” the report says.

Ernst & Young also highlights Alliance Data Systems’ $2.3 billion deal to buy Conversant, which figures to make Epsilon a strong player in the ad tech space.

"Money up" image via Shutterstock.
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