Stack Wars: The Facebook strikes back

By Brendan Coyne | 3 July 2014

The ad tech stack wars continue, with Facebook today picking up another big piece of the action.

The social media giant is to buy video ad company LiveRail, one of the biggest programmatic video platforms in the world. The company said its supply side platform (SSP) facilitates the sale over 7 billion video impressions a month.

In Australia, premium video inventory is in short supply, pushing up prices. It can also mean that agencies trying to hit targets and place a certain number of video ads in front of people can end up placing brand video ads in less then premium environments.

Brian Boland, Facebook head of ad product marketing (and head of Atlas, the ad server Facebook bought reportedly cut-price from Microsoft) said the acquisition would strengthen the video ad market.

“We believe that LiveRail, Facebook and the premium publishers it serves have an opportunity to make video ads better and more relevant for the hundreds of millions of people who watch digital video every month,” he said in a blog post.

“More relevant ads will be more interesting and engaging to people watching online video, and more effective for marketers too. Publishers will benefit as well because more relevant ads will help them make the most out of every opportunity they have to show an ad.

“We’re just getting started with our partnership with LiveRail, but we’re very excited about the future for video publishers and marketers. We believe that LiveRail’s excellent product – known in the industry as a video supply-side platform or SSP – and Facebook’s expertise with relevancy, delivery and measurement will help us make video advertising much better for everyone."

The big technology companies and telcos are increasingly gunning up in a bid to make their advertising technology stacks the most powerful. AOL recently bought with Microsoft and Google also making strategic plays to own the so-called 'ecosystem'.

Regionally Optus parent company Singtel has also started to show its hand. The telco has been bullishly investing an ample cash pile into dozens of technology businesses, and last month signed agreements to acquire ad platforms Adconion and Kontera for a combined sum of US$385million. The deals were done via its subsidiary Amobee.

By owning more parts of the digital advertising supply chain, the tech giants can take a bigger share of the spoils. With more traditional media dollars being funnelled through digital channels, and with companies like LiveRail formed to take advantage of TV moving to the internet, the annual prize pot is hundreds of billions of dollars.

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