Not everyone is lamenting a cookieless future. For one corner of marketing tech, Google’s decision to end cookies and launch its own cohort marketing system has spawned an acquisition frenzy.
Google Marketing Platform partners—even some of the smallest—are suddenly fielding lots of unsolicited offers at high prices from agency holding companies, private equity and tech rollup firms around the world. Big dollars are chasing the notion that whoever gets a foothold in this hard-to-enter space will have a lucrative role helping marketers navigate the future of digital advertising.
Without running auctions, some Google partners are getting competing bids at sky-high multiples up to 20 times cash flow (EBITDA—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), according to Bob Morris CEO of digital and mergers advisory company Bravery Group.
“These companies are going for at least three times what people were paying on a historical basis,” Morris says. He was pulled in to help several such acquisition targets starting in March, shortly after Google announced it wouldn’t replace cookies in Chrome with any other third-party identifiers but instead develop its own Federated Learning of Cohorts [FLoC] ad targeting system. He expects the first of those deals to close next month, but with more to come.
“I have not seen so much craziness in the 10-plus years we have had the business,” says Alex Yastrebenetsky, CEO of InfoTrust, a Google Marketing Platform partner since 2012 based near Cincinnati, who has in recent weeks been getting multiple acquisition inquiries from agency holding companies and private-equity firms alike.