Ad Network Acquisition Fever Continues…

May 18th, 2007 | Categories: acquisitions, marketing, markets, networks, social media, strategy

Ad network acquisition fever is reaching epidemic levels. This widespread phenomenon is sweeping the web landscape like a hungry flock of locusts. Just yesterday I wrote about the 24/7 Real Media acquisition by WPP Group. Then today, the last of the big three search engine players finally made a move - Microsoft acquired aQuantive for $6 billion.

This just about cleans out the entire ad network space. It appears as though no big Internet powerhouse wanted to be left behind with the big 3 and AOL all grabbing a piece of the pie.

And I always thought that the Internet signified freedom and diversity… This consolidation of sorts further solidifies the foundation of the big guns. Now, with less reliance on outside ad networks, these monoliths can focus on internal systems and strategies to expand the business.

What strikes me as funny in this situation is the order of events. Google usually strikes first, snatching up the biggest player in the industry. This not only provides solid positioning for Google with the industry, but also provides the best PR bang-for-buck. Yahoo jumps second, buying a secondary player at a slightly higher valuation. Some PR exposure may ensue, but this is usually drowned out by initial move of Google. Finally, Microsoft lags and lethargically purchases a tier-two firm at a huge premium. In most cases, the takeover turns out to be nothing more than a copy-cat action by Microsoft with little or no positive outcome.

Microsoft definite lags with respect to its Internet strategy. Saying it is weak is putting it mildly. The company needs to step up and start making smarter, more strategic moves in a more timely fashion.

Yahoo needs to focus on services. Trying to dethrone Google from the top search engine spot will be next to impossible. Maintaining a similar level of search engine quality is necessary, but innovation and re-invention should not be a priority. Yahoo needs to focus on core areas such as finance, travel, and shopping among other things.

And Google… well… Google just needs to be Google…

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