Media and advertising could be rocked by some crazy deals in 2019 — including AT&T buying Roku and Google buying LiveRamp

att ceo randall stephenson

  • Advertising and media witnessed a flurry of M&A activity in
    2018, a trend that will continue gaining steam in 2019, according
    to a new Forrester report.
  • AT&T will buy Roku and Google will acquire LiveRamp in
    2019, according to the report, changing the TV landscape and
    shocking marketing cloud stalwarts and agency holding
  • While acquiring Roku helps AT&T embed itself more deeply in
    the lives of consumers, acquiring LiveRamp makes Google more
    invincible than ever. 

2018 was a blockbuster year for
M&A activity
in media, with AT&T lapping up both Time
Warner and
Comcast acquiring Sky

And you shouldn’t expect the flurry of activity to die down any
time soon.

The media industry will continue to be disrupted in 2019 with
several new deals shaking up the space, according to a new report
by market research firm Forrester. 

“We feel that there are specific events that will take place in
2019 – specifically around further M&A,” Collin Colburn, B2C
marketing analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider. “Our
predictions are grounded in the trends and events from this year,
and the needs of technology companies, media conglomerates, and

Here are the deals that could shake up the media and advertising
industries in 2019:

AT&T’s next big move could be going after Roku

With Time Warner, AppNexus, and DirectTV under its belt,
AT&T seems to have content, ad tech, and distribution figured
out. But all this still isn’t enough to help it transform into a
digital media and marketing powerhouse and take on the
Facebook-Google duopoly, according to Forrester.

That’s because AT&T is still not plugged into consumers’
daily lives the way that Facebook and Google are. And one way
around that could be to invest in a content platform, according to
Forrester. Such a move would enable AT&T to not only grab a
more central role in consumers’ lives, but also a bigger share of
42-hour-per-week video entertainment viewing habit.

As AT&T looks to compete for more market share in
advertising, Roku could be an attractive target.

The argument, according to Forrester, is simple: Roku has a
massive (and rapidly growing) user base of 20 million, which when
added to DirectTV’s 20 million households, gives AT&T greater
scale than any other TV-centric media company. 

Plus, Roku captures a lot of detailed data about over-the-top TV
(OTT) viewing, and can dynamically insert targeted ads into its
videos, which would perfectly complement AT&T’s new targeted
advertising division, Xandr.

AT&T clearly is ready and willing to wage war against
today’s current duopoly over advertising dollars, Colburn said.

“Buying Roku is a natural next step for AT&T after their
acquisitions of Time Warner and AppNexus in 2018,” he said. “The
combination of the biggest audience, with massive data, and a
tech-stack that enables precision-targeting anchored in quality
video content is a highly appealing proposition to

And Google could snap up LiveRamp

Ever since data-marketing giant
Acxiom sold its marketing solutions platform to ad holding company
this summer, all eyes have turned to LiveRamp, Acxiom’s
other big business.

LiveRamp helps brands link their data with real people, and
industry experts consider its data onboarding practice second to
none. With the industry being increasingly plagued by regulatory
concerns, LiveRamp becomes a highly critical asset for any adtech
or martech vendor.

This will lead to a huge bidding war for LiveRamp, according to
Forrester. The likes of Adobe and Salesforce will attempt to
counter holding companies like Dentsu Aegis Network that will seek
to complement LiveRamp’s data with Merkle’s M1 data platform. 

But Forrester thinks the ultimate winner will be Google, which
will outbid everyone with its trove of cash, making LiveRamp’s data
available for customers using its newly branded and consolidated
adtech stack, Google Marketing Platform.

LiveRamp offers Google enhanced connectivity to the digital
world outside of itself, an expanded – and perhaps mutually
beneficial – relationship with publishers as well as a unique set
of data and identity assets, Colburn said, making it mightier than

“If Google acquires LiveRamp, it will make its new Marketing
Platform all the more powerful and enticing for marketers that have
already been using some of Google’s legacy tools,” he said. “With
these acquisitions, the big keep getting bigger.”

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Media and advertising could be rocked by some crazy deals in 2019 — including AT&T buying Roku and Google buying LiveRamp