Connected TV 5 Min Read

Magnite Acquires SpotX in $1.17B Connected TV Consolidation Deal

Written by Tim Edmundson

We didn’t have to wait long for this year’s Connected TV M&A action. Ad tech company Magnite announced its $1B+ acquisition of SpotX last week. It’s the latest big money move in a recent string of CTV ad tech acquisitions that illustrate a rising trend of consolidation in the CTV/OTT space. 

“We’re in the midst of a supply path optimization,” said Magnite CEO Michael Barret, “and that’s just a fancy word for consolidation.” 

Barret went on to say that the market wants an independent option which can compete against the likes of Google, Amazon, and Comcast. Those big names have invested heavily into CTV advertising, but as Barret points out, they own media and compete against publishers. Many advertisers also find themselves in competition with the three or their subsidiaries.  

Seen through the lens of an ever-intensifying CTV arms race, Magnite’s move makes sense. They’ve positioned themselves as a strong option for both publishers and advertisers looking to avoid giving money to direct competition. 

But it’s their choice of SpotX that is most interesting, because it speaks volumes about CTV advertising and what’s considered most valuable in the space.

Privacy, Identity, and Device Data

Desktop and mobile have had their fair share of privacy issues, and it’s only going to get harder for advertisers. Apple’s recent IDFA updates have garnered headlines and caused a bit of a panic in the mobile advertising ecosystem. Desktop, meanwhile, has all but accepted the fact that the future will be cookieless. 

Magnite’s move for SpotX helps bolster their strength in CTV and sidesteps the coming data privacy armageddon on other channels and devices. CTV is increasingly perceived as a safe haven for advertisers and publishers trying to avoid privacy issues plaguing other traditional digital channels. 

That said, CTV isn’t lacking for audience data. Every streaming network or app requires viewers to log in, which makes CTV an all logged-in environment. That’s extremely valuable to advertisers because there is certainty in regards to a user’s identity (this is what makes Facebook advertising so effective). 

SpotX’s device relationships were also significant, with Barret citing their connections with device manufacturers like Samsung as a reason why Magnite made the deal. CTV advertising has better, more robust data at the device level, thus making devices a crucial part in facilitating effective CTV advertising at scale. With SpotX, Magnite is now better equipped to access valuable data that is generated at the device level. 

More M&A to Come

SpotX CEO Mike Shehan, in an interview with Adweek, said the sale process was “very competitive,” suggesting there are plenty of interested buyers out there looking to consolidate more of the CTV space. 

As viewership continues to skyrocket and more ad budgets pour into Connected TV, it’s only a matter of time before the next acquisition headlines hit. This is looking to be an interesting year in the CTV ad tech space—one that could determine the playing field for years to come.