Adobe acquires TubeMogul for adtech expansion
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Image Credit: TubeMogul

Image Credit: TubeMogul

The adtech bubble hasn’t burst yet, and still counts on making the pitch to TV

Adobe’s acquisition of video adtech company TubeMogul for $540 million this week will be a big addition to the company’s marketing cloud, which already features Abode Primetime and the ambitious slogan, “Make every screen a TV.”

That, indeed, is the goal of the programmatic video advertising sector, and the hope of its boosters and partners. But, a lot of traditional media giants and marketers have yet to be won over by the promise of adtech on the small screen.

Programmatic video advertising is now a $3.6 billion industry in the US, but this is only a fraction of total digital ad buy spending. Of course, traditional data like household income and gender, plus Nielsen ratings, still count heavily in this new approach. According to a white paper published by TubeMogul last year, the company sees its digital approach as bringing greater flexibility, integration across platforms, and more detailed demographic research.

“Rather than manually reaching out to each inventory source,” the paper notes, “buyers could log into a centralized system to immediately confirm availability and place reservations.” This could, in theory, reduce the chances of ads bombing out due to last-minute changes in the market spaces or due to reliance on older data that might not be so reflective of present trends.

The dream, then, is to one day offer addressable TV advertising to individual households that is as specific as that which we get on Facebook or Amazon today. But, even for all our digital applications, TV is still very much its own distinct operating space, one worth $73 billion. But with digital advertising projected to continue rising and surpass TV soon for ad share, despite worrisome signs that growth is being driven by just a few big names, there is a drive to bring digital methods to broadcast, satellite, and cable.

Although the programmatic video advertising market is growing, industry players face resistance in inertia from traditional methods. That is, the sense if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it since TV ad revenue will still climb even as digital takes more of the total pie. (Even online adtech and publishers, who have working out a model for a while, are not always happy with their current relationship.) There is also a lack of infrastructure to automate and transmit data. And, as Geektime has previously reported, “the programmatic approach, whose end goal is getting consumers to take an action, is not necessarily scalable.”

With all these changes in the TV ad model, it is worth watching how companies like Innovid are working with ad buying platforms to better place campaigns, getting them in front of the right eyeballs. In particular, technologies like Apple TV, Roku, and other streaming platforms help to personalize the experience, collecting data and gaining actionable feedback on viewers and helping marketers build more optimized campaigns.

Abode was a desirable partner for TubeMogul for one unique reason. TubeMogul CEO, Brett Wilson, has previously expressed a desire to not bring his company under the umbrella of a “media company,” namely, the likes of Facebook or Google, even as the adtech industry consolidates. With Adobe, he has gotten that wish since it is not comparable to the aforementioned social media and search engine: “this will enable brands and agencies to plan, buy, measure and optimize their global video advertising with a neutral, independent partner that doesn’t have direct ownership of media or content,” Wilson noted in a blog post discussing the acquisition.

“We sell software platforms; we’re not in the media business,” Adobe’s digital marketing general manager Brad Rencher told The Wall Street Journal, adding that this approach will make Adobe more appealing to brands and advertisers.

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