Ongoing industry consolidation is partly driven by a very pressing client need: data consolidation.
The onslaught of online ad tech acquisition activity, most recently the purchase of Bluestreak's ad serving technology by marketing services firm Aegis Group, may look like copycat deal-making in response to Google's DoubleClick buy. But ongoing industry consolidation also signals the response of media and marketing firms to a very pressing client need: data consolidation.
In a statement announcing its $12.5 million purchase of Bluestreak's hosted interactive ad management technology suite, Aegis, owner of digital marketing services network Isobar, noted the acquisition will enable Isobar to merge reporting analytics for both search and display campaigns.
The notion of combining search and display ad reporting analytics is not new. Technologies from firms including DoubleClick already do it. Buying and tracking search and display advertising in a somewhat holistic fashion isn't exactly new either. Google's system lets advertisers buy and track search and display campaigns relatively easily. And just yesterday Yahoo announced its decision to collapse its display and search ad sales operations into one unit.
However, marketers can still only dream of the ability to combine campaign implementation, targeting, management, optimization, reporting and measurement across all digital media -- which will include television in the not-too-distant future.
"It's no longer about online. It's about digital platforms, and online happens to be one," said Mohan Renganathan, VP group director for media agency Mediavest.
So while all the media and marketing services outfits (Aegis, AOL, Google, Microsoft, WPP and Yahoo) that are snatching up ad technologies (24/7 Real Media, aQuantive, AdTech, Right Media, Screen Tonic and Third Screen Media) have in part has been prompted by high valuations, hype, and a fear of missing the proverbial bus, they're also all thinking more holistic about campaign data.
"There's a recognition across the board in the value of data," said Renganathan. "These ad serving technologies are actually a proxy for the underlying database structures and the databases that exist," he added, noting the ability to "follow those data streams and understand the behavior of consumers through those data streams becomes more and more important."
There's every indication that more ad tech deals will be made. A handful of larger and smaller firms with ad management, targeting and optimization technologies, each with its own specialties, could be acquisition targets if the price is right. They include [x+1], AlmondNet, BlueLithium, Brightcove, Burst Media, CheckM8, Eyeblaster, Mediaplex, Revenue Science, Tacoda, Tremor Media and others.
Even if over-valuations, industry buzz, or fear of being left behind are catalysts for recent or future acquisitions, there remains the underlying desire to put together all the disparate pieces of data flowing through all those technologies.
"The closer you have all platforms of media working together, the better all media will work," said Renganathan.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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