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Essence's Matt McIntyre on Zynga, Quibi, and The Guardian

The MadTech Podcast
On this week’s episode of The MadTech Podcast, ExchangeWire’s Rachel Smith and Lindsay Rowntree are joined by Matt McIntyre, VP programmatic, Essence, to discuss the latest news in ad tech and martech.

In this week’s episode:

Social gaming company Zynga has bought Istanbul-based Peak Games for USD $1.8b (£1.4b), split evenly across cash and shares. The purchase is a move towards extending Zynga’s portfolio of titles, as well as its audience beyond the US. We reported in our sister publication, The Gaming Economy, last month that, despite an increased engagement with their game titles as a result of lockdown restrictions and more time spent gaming, Zynga reported a Q1 loss. The poor results are attributed to Zynga having to pay $120m (£95.6m) in earn-out considerations from two other gaming studios it acquired in 2018 (Small Giant Games and Gram Games, purchased for $640m (£509m) and $250m (£199m) respectively). Despite being in a sector that has avoided suffering during COVID, Zynga is still set to report a $245m (£195m) loss for the year.

Advertisers who signed up for debut sponsorship opportunities with mobile short-form content streaming platform, Quibi, are now asking to renegotiate terms and potentially defer payments. Prior to launching, Quibi became known for pre-selling all USD $150m (£119m) worth of annual sponsorship to well-known household brands such as Walmart, PepsiCo, T-Mobile, and TacoBell. Quibi’s proposition of short-form, premium content exclusively for mobile devices is designed to enable brands reach their audiences in a safer environment, reducing brand risk. Aiming to recruit 7 million users in year 1 through a mixed subscription model for ad-free or ad-funded content, Quibi has so far only managed to sign up 1.5 million users since its launch in April.

The Guardian has rolled out a registration wall, asking readers to create an account to continue reading. The registration wall is currently optional, but comes alongside a move towards reserving certain features, including the ability to leave comments and access to editorial pieces, for registered readers only. The move places The Guardian alongside other publications which are turning their focus to first-party user data as they move their advertising strategies away from relying on third-party cookies. With revenue streams greatly impacted by the Coronavirus, which has seen some brands suspend their advertising and some ads blocked from appearing alongside COVID-related content, a registration wall could prove to be a life raft.