- Microsoft is trying to become the next big advertising company.
- The tech giant has plenty of holes to fill in streaming TV, gaming and business-to-business advertising.
- Insider has identified five companies that Microsoft could buy to grow its ad business.
In 2021, Microsoft stepped up investment in its advertising business with the pending $1 billion acquisition of adtech platform Xandr. But the tech giant, which made $10 billion in ad revenue last year, hinted that he hadn’t finished shopping yet.
“There are scenarios where we can grow organically, and frankly, there are areas where we will have to grow inorganically,” said Rob Wilk, vice president of Microsoft Advertising, said at Luma’s Digital Media Summit in New York in May.
Wilk wants to get the ad industry to consider Microsoft’s entire ad offering, not just its core look for company he has been running for years. Microsoft also sells e-commerce,
TV, game and business-to-business commercials.
Industry experts have named five companies Microsoft could buy to boost its advertising business.
Microsoft referred Insider to his statement about the December 2021 acquisition of Xandr. None of the companies named as potential acquisition targets were immediately available for comment.
Boosting its streaming TV advertising capabilities could be Microsoft’s top priority
Microsoft’s top priority could be TV streaming as it’s one of fastest growing sectors in industry. Xandr manages some streaming TV ad spend but tracks competitors like The Trade Desk, said Jesse Redniss, a former WarnerMedia executive who worked with the Xandr business when they were both part of AT&T.
“I could see Microsoft wanting to build that capability first to position it more as a market leader,” he added.
Sources named two TV-focused companies that Microsoft could acquire: Innovid and Magnity.
Innovid helps marketers buy and measure streaming TV ads and it would allow Microsoft to run ads in streaming TV, says a venture capitalist who invests in the space but hasn’t stake in Innovid.
This person said that Innovid has the added benefit of providing one of the best deals in the industry when it comes to buyable ads, a format that Innovid helped create. He added that buyable ads are a must-have feature for Microsoft as direct-to-consumer brands use this ad format to drive sales.
Magnite helps a large group of publishers of different sizes sell ads in streaming TV apps and earned $143 million from streaming TV in 2021. Two adtech CEOs said it could be a potential acquisition for Microsoft. Acquiring Magnite would increase the number of publishers Xandr works with.
Microsoft will need a video game ad tech company to monetize its massive game inventory
Microsoft also has a stake in video game advertising. It buys game publisher Activision Blizzard, which sells advertising space on its video games, and plans to create an in-game advertising platform for XBox.
Buying a business like a video game adtech startup Anzu would allow Microsoft to dynamically place in-game ads on digital objects such as billboards, said Kevin Krim, CEO of streaming TV measurement platform EDO.
Microsoft could use this ability to monetize its huge library of games, which includes studios like Bethesda and Minecraft developer Mojang. He would get even more titles if Activision Blizzard’s $68.7 billion acquisition goes through.
Microsoft needs B2B marketing tools to deepen its LinkedIn advertising offering
LinkedIn is one of Microsoft’s greatest assets in B2B marketing, having recorded over $1 billion in ad revenue in 2021, up 97% year-over-year.
If Microsoft integrates Xandr with LinkedIn, it could acquire Basis of request Where Bombora to find new ways to reach and target audiences, said two adtech CEOs.
Krim said Demandbase would give LinkedIn the tools to launch out-of-network ads like email ads and provide another way for B2B marketers to reach potential customers and hires. And Bombora could help advertisers target LinkedIn ads more effectively, Krim added. Bombora sells data on the products and services sought by companies.
But not everyone thinks Microsoft needs more acquisitions to bolster its advertising division. Industry analyst Ana Milicevic noted that Microsoft already has a leadership position in areas such as B2B marketing and gaming.
“Microsoft is and always has been an advertising powerhouse,” Milicevic said. “I would say they not only can compete with Google and Amazon, they already are.”