- The pace of deals among adtech companies that buy and sell digital advertising has slowed as the industry consolidates and marketers face new restrictions on advertising.
- Still, companies from privacy-geared firms to ones specializing in streaming TV advertising could be attractive acquisition targets this year.
- Business Insider asked five investors, consultants, bankers and analysts to predict which companies could be sold this year.
- Their picks show there's marketer demand for companies to help them navigate regulations and limits on advertising put in place by Google and Apple.
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After years of huge funding rounds and high-profile acquisitions, the digital advertising industry is facing a number of challenges, and companies solving for data regulation and new types of TV advertising are emerging as hot acquisition targets.
Funding is harder than ever to secure as wary investors are concerned about adtech companies' profitability. Google's decision to drop third-party cookies is threatening to change ad targeting, forcing adtech companies to change their business models. Data privacy laws like California's Consumer Privacy Act are making adtech companies find new ways to collect first-party data through apps, websites and loyalty programs.
Meanwhile, Facebook, Google and Amazon's ad businesses continue to grow while media companies, adtech firms and other platforms fight for the remaining scraps.
Those factors are driving acquisitions and consolidation. This year, Tremor International acquired video advertising startup Unruly from News Corp. for a fraction of what News Corp. paid for it five years ago. Location-based firm Verve was acquired by German media company Media and Games Invest.
"I struggle to think of the company that will be acquired by a 10X multiple - it's just not going to happen," said Chris Kane, founder and president of adtech consultancy Jounce Media. "What we'll see a lot of this year is a lot of distressed exits. It could be a financial rollup where a company like Amobee or Zeta or Media and Games Investment scoop up distressed assets for a discount."
Other areas of M&A are hot, though - like OTT. A number of adtech companies are rushing to capitalize on the shift of TV advertising moving to streaming TV apps. For example, Comcast agreed to buy ad-supported streaming service Xumo for a reported $100 million, and public adtech firms Telaria and Rubicon Project are planning to merge this year.
Business Insider asked five industry insiders including investors, consultants, bankers and analysts which companies are hot acquisition targets.
To be clear, these people listed companies they think are attractive M&A targets but did not suggest that any of the companies are currently are in talks.
Here are seven companies they said are worth watching this year, listed alphabetically. In the case of public companies, we included revenue. For private companies, we listed how much they have raised.