So, let’s see:
- Microsoft buys aQuantive for $6B (2x price premium suggests some deal competition)
- Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1B (beats Microsoft)
- WPP buys 24/7 Media for $649M (Microsoft was also looking at it)
- Yahoo buys Right Media for $680M
- Just for kicks, in the mobile advertising space, Microsoft buys Screen Tonic and AOL buys Third Screen Media for somewhere between $105M and $175M (apparently, Google was also interested in buying the company)
- To top it all, Microsoft fails to buy Yahoo.
It feels like a game of Monopoly where the three players with a lot of cash (MS, Google & Yahoo) are buying up all the real estate. Across both the Web and mobile, control of advertising is consolidating. Search has long consolidated. If search is the traffic driver and advertising is the money maker, then it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Net is increasingly falling under the control of the majors.
Only Google and MS have guaranteed staying power for the next few years. Since the fate of AOL and Yahoo is yet to be determined, there is a possible future with an overwhelming, antagonistic duopoly controlling the majority of search traffic and ad delivery.
This will be an interesting world for both startups and big publishers, one requiring significantly adapted strategies for success. It’s not all bad news. Sometimes restricted but efficient choices enable better outcomes.