Yahoo is in talks to acquire programmatic video ad platform BrightRoll, TechCrunch has reported, for anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion, although TechCrunch notes it’s “likely to be in the region of $700 million-$725 million.”
When reached by Real-Time Daily, BrightRoll declined to comment.
However, if the deal goes through, it would likely be Yahoo’s biggest move in the programmatic ad space; the company would be acquiring a powerhouse in the video ad tech industry in BrightRoll.
BrightRoll was the leading U.S. online video ad platform in August 2014, as ranked by comScore based on reach of total U.S. population. BrightRoll’s platform reached over half (51.3%) of the population, followed by Facebook’s LiveRail (46.8%). Specific Media (42.8%), AOL, (38.3%) and Google (37.6%) rounded out the top five.
In short, an acquisition of BrightRoll would immediately allow Yahoo to better compete against Google, Facebook and AOL in the digital video ad space. Those three companies were all ahead of Yahoo on comScore’s August 2014 rankings as ranked by unique video viewers. Yahoo was only slightly behind AOL (at 54.5 thousand versus 62.5 thousand), but Facebook (at 108.5 thousand) and Google (at 159.8 thousand) are crushing the competition.
According to eMarketer, U.S. digital video advertising will total $5.96 billion this year -- up 56% over 2013. Programmatic will account for 12% of that video ad spend this year and 40% by 2016. eMarketer also notes that the rumors surrounding the Yahoo-BrightRoll deal underscore Yahoo’s “increased .. commitment to digital video content and advertising.”
It shouldn’t come as a shock that Yahoo is acquiring -- or at the very least “in talks” to acquire -- an ad tech company. Just last week The Wall Street Journal posted an article exploring why Yahoo could be in the market to buy an ad tech company, writing that “the idea is that Chief Executive Marissa Mayer may want to match what Google, AOL and now Facebook are doing -- building out full suites of ad-buying-and-selling software.”
Yahoo has been accused of being slow to respond to programmatic ad trends. Earlier this year, Yahoo fired former COO Henrique de Castro, and
Mashable wrote that de Castro was “tone deaf to the demands of the advertising industry that he was supposed to be charming on
Yahoo’s behalf. Instead of wooing the industry, he was repelling them with an arrogant attitude and slow response to industry trends, notably programmatic buying.” A $1 billion, or $700
million, or $500 million, acquisition would give Yahoo a major horse in the race (and a load of cash on the line).
Yahoo will need to make some changes in order to keep pace with its competitors. According to eMarketer estimates, Yahoo will account for 2.4% of the global digital ad market share in 2014, down from 2.9% in 2013. “Yahoo’s decline has been driven mainly by a faltering display business,” writes eMarketer. A successful deal with BrightRoll has the potential to help Yahoo make up for its display misgivings in the video space.
Earlier this summer Facebook acquired LiveRail and RTL Group acquired SpotXchange, leaving BrightRoll as the largest independent video ad tech company on the market. If Yahoo does acquire BrightRoll, it would cap a busy 2014 in the video ad tech space, which also saw TubeMogul go public. Going back about 14 months, one could include AOL’s Adap.tv acquisition in the group as well -- but the past five months have been the busiest, with LiveRail, SpotXchange and now (reportedly) BrightRoll all being acquired.
Even at the lowest end of the price range that TechCrunch reported ($500 million), Yahoo's acquisition of BrightRoll would be the priciest video ad tech deal of the bunch.