- Apple’s effort to limit ad tracking starting April 26 has sparked deal activity by mobile ad firms.
- AppLovin, Vungle, and Digital Turbine have made big bets on mobile adtech this year.
- Insider spoke with nine experts about the companies that could be acquired next.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published April 9.
The mobile app and gaming space is red-hot with acquisitions and deals, sparking a whirl of chatter about the companies that could be acquired next.
Apple’s privacy changes, which rolled out on April 26, are expected to significantly limit how mobile ads are targeted and measured, which has led to a rush in deals in recent months as companies seek to build out their own mobile advertising and measurement capabilities in-house. The resurgence in adtech stocks, an uptick in M&A, and growth in time spent with phones and gaming apps during the pandemic are also prompting the flurry.
“There’s a general frothiness related to privacy and covid,” said Eric Seufert, an analyst and author of Mobile Dev Memo.
On May 5, mobile game giant Zynga said that it plans to acquire advertising firm Chartboost for $250 million in cash. The deal is expected to close during the third-quarter and will give Zynga access to Chartboost’s technology that helps app publishers create ad auctions where advertisers bid on prices to win ad slots. Chartboost’s tools also help advertisers target specific audiences across apps. Chartboost competes with the likes of Google, AdColony, and Unity Ads and had raised $21 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and TransLink Capital.
Mobile gaming giant AppLovin went public in April, raising $2 billion in an initial public offering that valued the company at $28.6 billion. AppLovin also recently acquired mobile measurement firm Adjust for a reported $1 billion. Elsewhere, mobile ad firm IronSource plans to go public via a SPAC that is valued at $11.1 billion. And Blackstone-backed Vungle bought GameRefinery and Algolift within six months of each other.
Publicly traded mobile media company Digital Turbine has been on an acquisition spree this year — acquiring mobile ad firms AdColony, Triapodi, and Fyber between February and March. Digital Turbine works with mobile carriers to pre-install apps on phones and sells ads within some of the apps.
“There are a handful of companies that have started to develop their own ecosystems — I would argue that Digital Turbine is one of them,” said Matt Tubergen, executive vice president of corporate development at Digital Turbine. “We saw a big opportunity to do an ecosystem play similar to that of Apple and Google but around carriers.”
Companies are also likely to rush deals through ahead of Apple’s rolling out its App Tracking Transparency (or ATT) feature, Seufert said. He said he expects for the valuations of some mobile companies to get cut by 25% once Apple’s feature is rolled out. Apple’s privacy update is expected to come into effect any time in the coming days and weeks.
Jeff Coon, managing director at investment firm Progress Partners, said that he expects to see a high level of M&A activity in mobile ad platforms and contextual
that don’t rely on third-party cookies to target ads.
Insider spoke with nine investors, executives, and experts to identify mobile advertising and analytics companies could be acquisition targets. The group of six companies, listed below in alphabetical order, is speculative and not all of these companies are discussing deals.
Where we can, we have noted each company’s funding to date.
Chartboost was originally listed in this post as one of the mobile advertising companies likely to be acquired next and has now been removed.