Late last week, after much ad industry speculation over which company was going to pick at the Sizmek carcass, Amazon said it was swooping in. And just as the ad industry braced itself for Amazon’s further encroachment, ad-tech stalwart Weborama has added another twist by announcing it has topped the retail giant’s bid to acquire Sizmek assets.
In a move surprising the industry, the France-based outfit today announced its parent company Ycor has decided to top Amazon’s offer to purchase Sizmek’s ad server and dynamic creative optimization business, just one week after the ecommerce behemoth publicly declared it was ready to do so.
“We’d been involved since early April and watched the evolution of the process and we made a decision once that it was worth topping Amazon’s bid,” said Alain Levy, CEO of Weborama, in an interview with Adweek.
The financial details of either offer were not publicly disclosed, although it has been speculated that Amazon’s offer is in the range of $30-$50 million, and Sizmek’s Chapter 11 proceedings have yet to conclude.
“Weborama and Ycor have spent the last two months assessing the acquisition of Sizmek ad server and DCO,” reads a statement issued by Weborama. “We believe overbidding today the existing offer is the best decision from an industry perspective.”
Amazon’s asset purchase agreement was made public on May 31 after it and several other interested parties, including a number of rival independent ad-serving outfits, assessed what Sizmek had on offer.
However, the nature of proceedings meant the door was still left open to Sizmek-owner Cerberus Capital entertaining enhanced offers until the Chapter 11 judge overseeing proceedings closes the file, which remains open.
Following the announcement of the intended deal, existing Sizmek staff were understood to have received offer letters from Amazon, but these were only upon condition of the sale of the assets going through, according to Adweek sources.
If successful, Weborama’s parent company Ycor will complete the purchase with Levy describing his outfit’s counteroffer as a “David versus Goliath” scenario given the retail giant’s comparatively huge resources.
Neither Amazon nor Sizmek were able to respond on record to Adweek’s requests for comment by the time of publication. Although, sources maintain that Weborama’s latest foray into the proceedings brings about the prospect of a rekindled bidding war over the most scaled independent ad server in the market.
Ciaran O’Kane, CEO of WireCorp, said, “The reported [$30 million] offer price from Amazon was very low given Sizmek’s assets and it goes to show that Sizmek’s private equity owners must have been shopping it around quite hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had other companies coming in and revising their bids now.”
Last week’s announcement that Amazon wanted a piece of Sizmek, which also included the sale of its demand-side and data management platform assets to Zeta Global, was widely interpreted as a bid to rival Google’s dominance of ad tech.
Although certain parties had expressed unease as to the further dominance of another of the industry’s walled gardens. And this seems to be at the center of Weborama’s pitch to market, one that sounds similar to Sizmek’s own 18 months ago, i.e. the importance of market plurality.
The company already has existing ad serving assets (although not as scaled as Sizmek or Google’s), plus DMP and semantic AI capabilities with Levy explaining to Adweek, the addition of Sizmek will provide marketers and agencies with an independent alternative to Google.
“Ad serving is the backbone of digital advertising, it’s where you decide the allocation of your budget and make decisions about and host creative and then measure the impact on the campaign, then decided your attribution from there,” he said.
“We believe we have a lot of knowledge of these technologies and there will be a lot of synergies between Sizmek and Weborama, more importantly, it’s a crucial strategy issue for the market,” he added.