ExchangeWire on Microsoft-Activision, Criteo, and Yahoo’s Ad Business

On this episode of The MadTech Podcast, ExchangeWire head of content John Still is joined by COO Lindsay Rowntree and CSO Ciarán O'Kane to discuss the CMA's opposition to Microsoft's Activision purchase, Criteo looking for a buyer, and Yahoo restructuring their ads business.

CMA state opposition to Microsoft Activision purchase plans

Is this merger likely to go ahead, and, if so, what impact would it have on the gaming industry?

The Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) have come out against Microsoft’s plans to purchase Activision Blizzard. The UK regulator say they have “provisionally concluded” that the acquisition would have a negative impact on the gaming market by causing price increases, limiting choice, and stifling innovation. The proposed USD $69bn (£57bn) merger, which was first announced a year ago, would give Microsoft ownership of popular games, including Call of Duty and Candy Crush. 

The XBox owner responded to the statement by saying they would work to “address the CMA’s concerns.” However, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel Rima Alaily seemingly contested the watchdog’s opinion, saying that Microsoft’s “commitment to grant long-term 100% equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Nintendo, Steam and others preserves the deal's benefits to gamers and developers, and increases competition in the market." Alaily also contended that three-quarters of those surveyed for the CMA’s public consultation “agree that the deal is good for competition in UK gaming.”

Criteo look for a buyer

Why might Criteo be looking to sell? Who might buy them, and what impact could that have on the ad tech industry?

Criteo are reportedly renewing efforts to sell themselves. According to sources familiar with the matter, the French ad tech firm initiated the sales process earlier this month, with investment firm Evercore Inc. serving as an adviser. 

Criteo had attempted to find a buyer back in 2021, although talks proved unsuccessful. Analysts speculate that the company hope to assuage investors’ fears surrounding the effects that privacy-focused changes are expected to have on targeted advertising. The company have already sought to stem the impact of third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome by building a retail media arm. Reuters assert that the firm could attract the attention of buyout parties who are particularly interested in measurement and analytics businesses.

Yahoo announce major restructure of advertising unit

Does this mark the end of Yahoo’s attempt to compete with Google and Meta for dominance in digital advertising?

Yahoo have launched a significant restructuring of their advertising unit that will see over 20% of staff made redundant. Company executives revealed that the shift will more than halve the business’ ad tech workforce, with CEO Jim Lanzone emphasising that the layoffs are the result of a strategic change and not financial difficulties.

Despite making in excess of 30 ad tech acquisitions over the span of more than a decade, the company’s Yahoo for Business ad arm has never made a profit. The restructure will see Yahoo shutter their supply-side platform and native advertising platform, Gemini. It’s understood that the company will lean into their partnership with Taboola to sell native advertising, and will focus more heavily on their demand-side platform, which will be renamed “Yahoo Advertising”.