OK, so maybe 2016 wasn’t the “bloodbath” that Vice pichman/CEO Shane Smith predicted. But it did have its share of big deals, chief among them Verizon’s gobbling up of AOL. We asked industry insiders for their takes on the deals that absolutely should happen in the next 12 months. These aren’t predictions that they will happen; in fact, they’re so logical that they probably won’t.
NBCUniversal should buy BuzzFeed
Considering that NBCUniversal has already invested $400 million in BuzzFeed — in addition to using BuzzFeed to create Snapchat content during the Olympics as well as a Tasty-branded segment for the “Today Show” — an acquisition feels inevitable. It’s a “no-brainer,” as one well-placed video source says. “But Jonah [Peretti] doesn’t want to sell,” says a former BuzzFeed exec. “If it were up to the business side, that would have happened last year.”
Facebook should buy Criteo
Facebook has gone from strength to strength in its ad business. Its success is tied to its scale and huge advantage in data. But Criteo, the leading provider of retargeting, is sitting on valuable information Facebook doesn’t have: Purchase-intent data. “At $3 billion – $4 billion,” says Ari Paparo, CEO of ad tech firm Beeswax, “Criteo would be a steal.”
Amazon should buy Pinterest
Despite rolling out many ad products this year, Pinterest has struggled with ad buyers. But Amazon could get more mileage out of Pinterest’s data. “It would be a smart acquisition if you think about the DIY and eCommerce connections,” says Larry Cohen, executive director of social analytics at Mediabrands Society. “Pinterest’s recipe-based content could also combine with Amazon’s pantry and delivery services.”
WPP should buy VaynerMedia
VaynerMedia and Gary Vaynerchuk have arguably built a digital agency that is doing breakneck, if not creatively standout, work. Add to that a model built on a lot of cheaper, younger digital talent — 65 in-house production people alone — and digital agencies and those who’d like to be in that space, are envious. “I could see a big holding company buying them, but the price would need to be high,” says an agency exec. Another executive says it could be someone else: One of the entertainment agencies, like CAA or WME/IMG, would be interested. “They want to own the whole pie.”
AT&T should buy Twitter
The fate of Twitter has been a parlor game in Silicon Valley for years. Many assume Google makes the most sense as a new parent. But don’t count out AT&T. Its media ambitions were made clear by its pending $85.4 billion deal to acquire Time Warner. With Twitter, AT&T could step into the big leagues of digital content distribution. “AT&T/Time Warner could push Twitter harder on monetizing its data assets, using it to help add power to what would be the largest and most powerful addressable TV network in the U.S.,” says Ian Schafer, CEO of digital agency Deep Focus.
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