Twitter is to sell MoPub, the in-app monetization platform for app publishers, to mobile technology firm AppLovin for $1.05bn in cash amid increased scrutiny of the privacy implications arising from the automated auction of ad space.
Heralding the sale as an opportunity to invest in other products, such as revenue-based marketing, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey explained: “This transaction increases our focus and demonstrates confidence in our revenue product roadmap, accelerating our ability to invest in the core products that position Twitter for long-term growth and best serve the public conversation.”
Twitter chief financial officer Ned Segal added: “The sale of MoPub positions us to concentrate more of our efforts on the massive potential for ads on our website and in our apps. We plan to accelerate product development and replenish the near term revenue loss, with the goal of improving our time to market to deliver on our previously stated goal of at least doubling total annual revenue from $3.7bn in 2020 to $7.5bn or more in 2023.”
Twitter’s move can be set against a backdrop of mounting public concern over the practice of sharing data in ad auctions, with Google among those firms hit by privacy lawsuits for selling and sharing user data with companies without the users’ express consent, prompting it to pledge the removal of third-party cookies by 2023.
Apple has led the way on this front by giving users of its iOS 15 software the option to opt in to targeted ads rather than sign up by default.
Levi Matkins, chief executive officer at LifeStreet, said: “This seems like a different type of acquisition in the gaming adtech space than what has been seen in the past. What is unique is that AppLovin didn’t buy the tech , they are heavily valuing publisher relationships and supply. It’s interesting that they focused on showing growth organically or through acquisitions while redefining themselves as a software company.
"There is a huge amount of consolidation; AppLovin is able to get a significant amount of extremely long-standing public integrations and at the same time they are able to eliminate a rival.”
Twitter will set aside an $809.5m litigation settlement over allegations the social network and former senior executives overstated daily user growth in 2015 to artificially inflate its stock price after settling the case out of court last month.