Ad Tech M&A on Oct 2019

There were few key M&A that happened in the Ad Tech industry in the month of October. Marketing Interactive reached out to me and I shared some of my views with them.


While the advertising and marketing industry is still trying to make sense of what this will mean, Serm Teck Choon, Malaysia country head/head of product, CtrlShift and president, Malaysian Digital Association, said Taboola and Outbrain have often competed for native ad space for several years. This has resulted in ad buyers normally choosing either Taboola or Outbrain if the native buy is required for their media plans.

According to Serm, the merger will give ad buyers a larger scale of audience based on the audience aggregation from both sides, with a unified buying platform that will provide buyers with greater efficiencies. “This definitely uplifts its competitiveness against other players in the native advertising sector. With that being said, IPO is also one of the potential moves for the combined company in the next 18 months,” he added.

The combined company claims to be able to reach about two billion people a month, according to a blog post on Taboola, which makes it one of the largest players in digital advertising space, apart from the duopoly. This then provides an option with scale to the market. However, at the end of the day the merger must bring better user experience in content discovery and native advertising to consumers.

“Most Internet users, including myself, do not like those low-quality native ads that appear alongside editorial recommendation such as ‘Recommended For You’ boxes, which sometimes lower the quality of content presentation for some renowned publishers,” Serm said. Nonetheless, he adds that the combined resources will potentially create more advanced content discovery technologies – which will benefit both the ecosystem and consumers.

Creating a more meaningful discovery will make the newly merged company become an ultimately ‘meaningful competitor’.

… CtrlShift’s Serm said the merger may potentially give publishers lesser options now and hopefully, this would not cause publishers to have lesser bargaining power when negotiating with the newly merged company. Meanwhile, publishers should push the merged company to work on better content discovery technology providing a more brand-safe environment for both publishers and advertisers.


Serm Teck Choon, country head and head of product at CtrlShift Malaysia, said the deal signifies that dataxu’s aggressive push for TV and video ad buying solutions over last few years finally paid off. For Roku, the acquisition of technology means that it can help its content partners to monetise their inventory in a data-driven way, uplifting its competitiveness as a result.

Agreeing with other industry players, Serm said the value of the acquisition is relatively low when compared to other ad-tech related acquisitions, such as AppNexus by AT&T that is rumoured to be valued between US$1.6 billion to US$2 billion. “The lines between various players in the market are getting blurrier as acquisitions create telco-DSP, brand-publisher, and publisher-DSP combinations. We have to embrace the new world that technologies, including ad tech, are becoming one of the driving forces for business transformation,” he added.

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