Roku Stars In The Pre-Cannes Gossip; Don't Sleep On Automattic - AdExchanger

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Here’s today’s AdExchanger.com news round-up… Want it by email? Sign up here.

All Systems Ro’

Roku insiders are abuzz about a potential acquisition by Netflix, Insider reports. 

There’s no firm reporting of a deal, or even of negotiations. But two employees say Roku abruptly closed the trading window to sell vested stock. That kind of trading halt is normal before an announcement that could affect the share price. Though jumping to a potential Netflix acquisition is highly speculative. 

The rumor mill is also churning because Roku’s stock price has been crushed. Roku shares are down from an all-time high of almost $480 last summer to $189 at the close of trading Wednesday (and that’s with an 8% bump this week). 

The anonymous leaks could also be a savvy PR play to revive the stock. 

Still, the deal makes sense. Roku, at about a $14 billion market cap, is digestible for $90 billion Netflix. 

The Trade Desk is another M&A option that would make Netflix a major advertising player without Netflix even showing ads. (David Wells, the former Netflix CFO, who retired in 2019, has been a TTD board member since 2015, overlapping for most of his tenure.) But at $26 billion, The Trade Desk is a riskier investment.

Automattic WordPresses The Advantage

Automattic, the WordPress parent company, is off most advertising radars. But perhaps not for long.

Automattic’s flagship is WordPress. But WordPress fits in a gray zone for first-party data. AdExchanger owns its site and audience, though WordPress is the CMS. 

A contextual targeting deal this week between GumGum and Tumblr – which Automattic acquired from Verizon in 2019 for a measly $3 million – is an example. Tumblr has its own media and signed-in user base, a clear-cut first-party data relationship. But GumGum tells MediaPost the plan is to extend the contextual partnership to WordPress.

Publishers decry brand safety and contextual ad tech vendors that scrape their sites and repurpose the data for themselves. But Automattic isn’t scraping: It has real roots across the entire open web as the largest CMS. 

And WooCommerce, Automattic’s ecommerce software plug-in, yesterday announced new functionality for in-person payments using a card reader. That’s another sweet first-party data set. 

Last year, Automattic acquired the social media analytics provider Parse.ly, the journaling app Day One and a podcast listener app called Pocket Casts. The company is stealthily assembling a platform with an intimate view into the lives of hundreds of millions of web users.

Buyers Or Suppliers

The SSP Index Exchange announced its first-ever acquisition on Wednesday, taking over the German ad tech startup Rivr Technologies. 

Rivr builds brand-specific bidding algos based on an advertiser’s KPIs and particular business priorities. It then uses that intelligence to curate supply sources. The acquisition is intended to “help our demand-side platform [partners] manage all of the supply that we manage for them,” Index CTO Ray Ghanbari tells Adweek.

Billions of programmatic auctions run every day, and DSPs in particular are turning to SPO to whittle down intermediaries and duplicate bids. (By doing some of that work itself, Index may hope to avoid being whittled out by advertisers or DSPs without any say in the matter.) 

The Trade Desk initiated a demand-side stampede when it launched OpenPath, a publisher-direct supply channel. TTD also invested in Chalice Custom Algorithms, a competitor of Rivr. TripleLift’s acquisition of 1plusX this year and Magnite buying Carbon in 2022 (as well as nToggle in 2017) are other examples of SSPs realizing they must do more to connect and enhance publisher audiences or risk full-on disintermediation. 

But Wait, There’s More!

The Washington Post announces that it will join Prebid.org as a Technology Partner. [blog]

Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near with the new Chrome update. [The Register]

Smart AdServer rebrands as Equativ following recent acquisitions. [release]

An overview of iOS and iPadOS 16. [MacStories]

IAB Tech Lab expands Open Measurement SDK to connected TV. [release]

Is SKAdNetwork 4.0 a turning point for mobile advertising: Privacy with Purpose? [Mobile Dev Memo]

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