Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

An Item on Google’s Long Shopping List: “Demand-Side Platforms”

shopping listGoogle has bought six companies since August and has many more in its sights. Here’s one category the company is looking at, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking: “Demand-side platforms.”

Dull name aside, this is an interesting business for Google to be thinking about. So-called DSPs are supposed to help ad buyers (that’s the “demand-side” part) manage the speed, volume and complexity of the new ad exchanges cropping up, like Google’s own AdX product.

The DSP industry is a fairly young one, but the companies in it are beginning to find some traction by signing up the big advertising holding outfits like WPP et al to non-exclusive deals.

I assumed that part of the appeal of DSPs is that they stand apart from Google (GOOG), giving buyers more confidence that they are seeing the widest amount of inventory possible, at market prices. But industry sources say Google would like to buy or build one of its own, anyway.

Do keep in mind the “build” option, here: A company with Google’s resources could easily build this stuff on its own. Then again, you can say that about a lot of the stuff Google has bought recently, and the DSPs are generally start-ups that haven’t raised a ton of money, so a purchase–at the right price–is definitely doable.

If you want to bet, here are some M&A candidates to keep an eye on: Invite Media, MediaMath, DataXu, x+1, Turn and AppNexus. That last one would be particularly interesting,¬†as former Google executive Michael Rubenstein, who was running Google’s AdX service until its launch, left the company to join AppNexus earlier this fall.

[Image credit: Bruce Turner]