Mediaocean Acquires 4C Insights. What’s Next for Ad Tech?

The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession have forced tech vendors to step up their games and make a stronger case to advertisers as to why their products and services are essential amid tightening budgets. The year of Covid-19 is also fostering a favorable environment for mergers and acquisitions, as solo players team up to emerge stronger on the other side of a stormy season.

Last week, ad tech got a fresh acquisition, as Mediaocean acquired 4C Insights. I checked in with Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C Insights, to find out what the acquisition portends for the two companies and how it matches up with broader trends in ad tech.

Mediaocean is acquiring 4C Insights. Could you explain how this will benefit each company and clients?

Marketers want to reach the right audiences with the right message on any device, and marketing investment must generate return on ad spend (ROAS) with transparency and accountability.

The combination of Mediaocean and 4C will address this need by establishing a modern system of record for omnichannel advertising, one that enables marketers to buy premium media the same way consumers consume it – seamlessly.

What are the major challenges in the ad software industry at present?

The advertising industry is transforming. With the proliferation of devices and applications, media consumption has fragmented massively. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of connected TV, social, subscription media, privacy regulation, and e-commerce while traditional channels such as national and local TV and radio still account for a significant share of time spent. In each of these channels, the closed ecosystem model is proving the most durable – and also the most vexing for omnichannel marketers.

The ad tech ecosystem that was built for open web programmatic buying and selling is unfit for a world where walled gardens are rising and cookie reliance is waning. Software like Scope by 4C built for closed ecosystems represents the future of media planning, buying, and measurement. Anchoring this platform on top of Mediaocean’s foundational system of record presents an end-to-end solution for the industry.

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed ad tech for vendors and media buyers? Did it prompt or affect the timing of the Mediaocean/4C acquisition?

The pandemic and resulting economic crisis brought increased scrutiny on all marketing and advertising activity. Media buyers need to be more accountable to their bottom lines. Media sellers need new ways to package up their inventory for better monetization.

The combination of Mediaocean and 4C helps both buyers and sellers by removing the added friction and inflated margins running rampant through the media supply chain. In that respect, the acquisition is timed well with these trends accelerating and companies needing to be more efficient than ever before.

All that said, while Covid-19 did not prompt the deal, it certainly made the outcome more obvious and urgent.

What are some of the cutting-edge innovations in ad tech? What strategies or technologies must players adopt or risk falling behind in the coming years?

To be future-proof, ad tech must be independent from media owners as well as neutral and open in order to provide transparency, controls, and auditability. It must integrate across planning and buying so that each layer of functionality is connected seamlessly and converges across all media channels to enable omnichannel advertising.

It must leverage AI and machine learning to aggregate and interpret data and make decisions that will create efficiency and effectiveness. It must also be open and interoperable with supply, technology, and data partners across all media – including open and closed ecosystems – and support bi-directional data flow.

Finally, it must continually improve business outcomes on a global basis for all stakeholders. The combination of Mediaocean and 4C is uniquely prepared to deliver on these requirements.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.