Digiday DealBook: Google’s advertising updates to YouTube, Meta’s Giphy acquisition stalled, Elon Musk’s talk with Twitter employees and more

Welcome to Digiday’s DealBook. Our focus is to create a quick and easy rundown of the deals, acquisitions and hires taking place the previous week. The goal is to inform and update you on the latest happenings in the industry at the top of your inbox each Monday.  — Carly Weihe

—To get around the European Commission antitrust investigation, Google will now let rivals place their ads on Youtube. Youtube, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, previously only promoted ads that were already partners with the company. With this change, Google hopes to get around the EU antitrust regulators threatening to fine the company. The European Commission opened its investigation last year to determine whether or not the company was restricting its competitors’ access to ad space and user data on the platform. However, Google will certainly have to do more to have the investigation dismissed than this YouTube ad play. 

—Meta is also facing similar antitrust claims in the U.K. following the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s dismissal of Meta’s appeal to move forward with the acquisition of Giphy on Tuesday. The tribunal dismissed all but one of Meta’s six appeals, citing that the deal would give an unfair advantage over the digital advertising space. As a result, meta has been unable to move forward with the acquisition since the initial agreement in May 2020 for reportedly $400 million. 

—Potential Twitter acquirer Elon Musk held an hour-long meeting with Twitter employees last Thursday to answer questions regarding the transaction, moderated by Twitter’s CMO, Leslie Berland. Musk told Twitter employees in the all-hands video call, with all 8,000 employees invited, that his aim for the company is to have 1 billion users under his leadership. He also praised TikTok for keeping users engaged on the app throughout the meeting. As of last week, Twitter stock is trading around $38, while Musk will pay $54.20 a share for the company. In addition, Musk will owe the company $1 billion if he backs out of the deal.

In other news…

  •  Spotify acquired Sonatic, a tech company that produces AI voices. This acquisition marks Spotify’s continued effort to expand its content library of music and podcasts. 
  • Tiktok has announced it will launch new parameters to limit the screen time of its users. This update is the first effort the platform has put forward to curtail its young audience’s attention to the app. Users 13-17 years old will get a notification when they have exceeded more than 100 minutes on the app in a single day. 
  • Apple TV secures the rights to Major Soccer League in a ten-year deal starting in 2023 after its deal with ESPN expires. The games will be available on Apple TV through a subscription-based model with MLS. 
  • VoxMedia and WGA East reached a new agreement this past week following 95% of union members threatening to strike. The union members voted to ratify the deal on Thursday, securing benefits and higher wages for editorial and video staffers.
  • Online retail fashion platform Zalando acquires a significant stake in Highsnobiety, the media brand dedicated to lifestyle, fashion and culture. Highsnobiety will be a creative consultant to Zalando while retaining editorial independence from the company. This acquisition comes after Highsnobiety signed a deal with retail company Gebr Heinemann in May this past year with plans to open retail stores in the future.
  • Redbox Entertainment, a video rental company, has seen an extreme rise in its stock price in the past couple of weeks. Some experts call it a “meme-stock,” similar to Game Stop in 2021. The increase in stock prices comes after the announcement that Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul Entertainment would acquire the company. 
  • 6sense, a revenue intelligence platform, acquired advertising technology provider Granite Media. In partnership with 6sense, Granite Media will allow companies to better market to consumers with its advertising tools. 
  • Marketing agency White64 acquired independent branding and digital studio Jake Group. This deal will expand White64’s digital marketing skills for its clients, and Jake Group’s staff will merge with the company.
  • Publicis Media’s APX Content Ventures has announced the first recipients of its $25 million Inclusion Investment Fund, which is part of Publicis’ Once and For All financial commitment in which ten inclusive partners will receive funding for their projects.

Additionally, below is a list of industry leader hires and promotions

  • WPP hired Michael Houston as president of U.S. business
    • He was formerly CEO at Grey Group
  • 6sense hired Terese Lam as chief people officer
    • She was formerly the chief people officer at Wind River
  • Disney hired Dana Walden as chairman of general entertainment content
    • She was formerly the CEO of 21st Century Fox

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