BuzzFeed Acquires HuffPost; MOW Urges CMA to Block Google's Privacy Sandbox

In today's ExchangeWire news digest: BuzzFeed agrees to buy HuffPost as part of its deal with Verizon Media; Marketers for an Open Web calls on the CMA to delay Google's implementation of its Privacy Sandbox; and Publicis Groupe's Marcel Sydney is absorbed into Saatchi & Saatchi Australia.


BuzzFeed buys HuffPost

Online publisher BuzzFeed has reached a deal to acquire HuffPost. The agreement, which was announced last Thursday (19th November), forms part of a larger deal in which saw BuzzFeed join forces with Verizon Media, which owns HuffPost.

The move marks the latest in a spell of consolidations amongst online media firms, following Vox Media’s acquisition of New York Media in September and Vice Media’s purchase of Refinery29 last month. The deal could prove rejuvenating for both BuzzFeed and HuffPost, with both companies having seen their online ad revenues falter over recent years. Both firms have made significant cuts in order to stay afloat, with BuzzFeed pulling out of a number of markets (including the UK) earlier this year to reduce its overheads.

The deal draws a full circle for BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, who co-founded HuffPost alongside Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Andrew Breitbart back in 2005. Peretti is now set to take charge of the newly-merged company. “BuzzFeed is making this acquisition because we believe in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come,” said Peretti, adding that the merger will give BuzzFeed a competitive boost.


Industry collective appeals to CMA to delay Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Marketers for an Open Web (MOW), a coalition of advertising technology and publishing businesses, has called on the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to force Google to postpone implementing its Privacy Sandbox. The group asserts that the new technology threatens to entrench the Alphabet-owned tech giant’s hold over the digital ad landscape.

Amongst the changes set to be enacted under the Privacy Sandbox, the taking over of login, advertising, and other features hosted within the open web is a particularly contentious matter for MOW. In a letter delivered to the CMA yesterday (23rd November), the collective urged the regulator block the Sandbox in order to delay its implementation.

If the appeal is successful, it will mark the CMA’s first attempt to curb Google’s dominance. The regulator has been critical of the US-based firm, condemning the company’s practices in a much lauded 1,800-page report published in July this year. CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli asserted that his organisation would take charge of reining in the search giant if the UK government failed to do so. The stance places the CMA alongside the US Department of Justice and the European Commission, who are also working on implementing new restrictions to curb the search behemoth.


Saatchi & Saatchi acquires Marcel Sydney

Marcel Sydney, part of Publicis Groupe, is set to be folded into Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. The move marks Publicis Groupe’s second merger this year, and follows Performic’s purchase of the holding company’s customer experience agency Mercerbell.

It’s reported that the latest deal will see all 6 members of Marcel’s staff transition to the advertising heavyweight, with only managing director Ryan Bernal opting to leave Publicis Groupe as a result of the merger. Publicis Groupe has asserted that the move has sparked “no changes in the day-to-day running of accounts” for Marcel Sydney, whose clients include Nivea, Ferrero Rocher, and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Agreeing for Marcel Sydney to be absorbed into Saatchi & Saatchi reiterates Publicis Groupe’s current attempts to expand and diversify its client offerings. Publicis Groupe AUNZ CEO Michael Rebelo, revealed to on the Mumbrellacast podcast that the holding company has “seen increasing demand or opportunity to move” and explained that whilst the idea had been on the table at the beginning of 2020, the COVID crisis helped it gain momentum.