Ad Tech & Programmatic

Ad industry acquisitions are beginning to heat up

A common thread? Many are on the supply side.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: DragonFly/Getty Images

4 min read

Ad-tech executives and their investment bankers apparently didn’t get the memo about summer doldrums.

After nearly two years of almost-complete hibernation, the industry experienced a flurry of M&A activity last month. In fact, there was a different acquisition announced, on average, every week.

  • On June 3, contextual advertising company Seedtag acquired supply-side CTV platform Beachfront Media. On June 11, demand-side platform Madhive acquired Frequence, an omnichannel marketing platform.
  • On June 12, the supply-side platforms Equativ and Sharethrough announced a merger. On June 18, mobile ad-tech company Verve acquired the Jun Group for $185 million.

So what’s happening? The advertising industry might be waking up from a long slumber. Last year’s lag in activity represented a “decade-long low” in M&A activity, according to ad-tech investment group Luma Partners’s 2024 State of Digital report, which cited “macro uncertainty” and a “fear of a recession” as factors that could have affected any dealmaking.

Defying some of that uncertainty and fear, the ad industry has kept on humming this year, outpacing financial forecasts and industry expectations. In early June, GroupM announced that industry revenue is expected to surpass the trillion-dollar mark next year, a year earlier than previously expected.

“2023 was all about surviving, 2024 is about reviving, and in 2025—we thrive.” Luma Partners wrote in the report.

Tom Triscari, a senior advisor at investment bank and advisory firm Landmark Ventures, said he expects more deals to come in the coming months.

“There’s more deal flow than there was last year, that’s for sure,” Triscari said. “I don’t think we’re done yet…I’m guessing there will be some news about some other ones that came out of Cannes.”

FWIW, the early part of 2024 wasn’t entirely dead. In January, LiveRamp acquired clean-room tech company Habu, and a month later, Walmart acquired smart-TV company Vizio.

Supply-side consolidation

For the deals made in June, each company had their own reasons for their acquisitions.

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Seedtag specifically said it was looking to expand into CTV inventory, which is why it bought Beachfront, according to a press release announcing the deal. Equativ, meanwhile, acquired Sharethrough because it was looking to have a larger presence in the US market, CEO Arnaud Créput told Adweek.

A common thread, though, is that nearly all of the deals involved a supply-side platform, meaning they represent the advertising pipes that publishers (including streamers and mobile apps) can use to reach advertisers.

The consolidation could simply mean the category has matured, Shiv Gupta, founder of the ad-tech education and training company U of Digital, told Marketing Brew.

“It tells us that the SSP market has somewhat matured, and traditional SSPs are somewhat commoditized, and there are now clear winners and losers,” he said—and there’s little glory in being the 15th largest SSP, competing with walled gardens like Amazon and the supply-side behemoths like Magnite, Gupta said, especially as the industry undergoes significant change and signal loss. Cookie-based businesses that don’t have the funds to reinvest may have few other options than to look for buyers, Gupta and Triscari said.

“Traditional SSPs…they see the writing on the wall,” Gupta said. “They’re getting out or they’re just dying off.”

They can’t all be winners. Oracle was reportedly in talks to sell its ad-tech business to verification companies DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science just before it announced last month that it was getting out of the ad business.

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