Build or buy? That is the age-old question for many a powerful tech outfit.
In Twitter’s case, the answer is clear. Fresh from raising $2.1bn in its IPO, the micro-messaging platform has stepped up its journey on the acquisitions trail.
In buying ad server MoPub, native ad platform Namo and ad retargeting TapCommerce, Twitter’s M&A strategy is clear - it is acquiring smaller vendors from specific areas of its own ecosystem to support a big push for mobile advertising dominance.
This raises some interesting questions. If a select few developers who depend on Twitter are brought in-house through acquisition, what happens to their many third-party rivals, who remain on the outside?
Now that Twitter owns BlueFin Labs, Bristol’s SecondSync and Trendrr, why would marketers use an equivalent but more distant social TV analytics service like Canvs, Kimola or even Nielsen, all of which now enjoy second-division access to Twitter’s vital API?
That question is thrown into sharp relief because, when it comes to freezing out third-party developers, Twitter has form. A year ago, many independent Twitter apps were wiped out when the company severely restricted developer access to its platform. The move concentrated the official Twitter mobile client as the app of choice.
Mobile, social advertising is exploding, with many analytics and ad sales platforms sprouting up. By bolting on a hand-picked few of them, GoBot-style, to make its own mobile ad offering more powerful, will Twitter again kill off independent peers in its ecosystem? If Twitter bought a social analytics platform tomorrow, would Birdsong, the company I am spending my life building be worthless?
I don’t think so. It’s a tech cliché now, but nothing online is a zero-sum gum. We have been here before - Google revolutionised the industry by introducing self-service online advertising; but that didn’t kill ad agencies. Nor did its purchase of Urchin, the forerunner to Google Analytics, limit the opportunities for a web analytics sector that still includes popular services from the likes of Adobe and Clicky.
We should welcome, not fear, Twitter’s ad-tech buy-up spree. Its acquisitions of mobile marketing services validate the entire sector, and will help create greater overall value for all of us. It doesn’t mean the growing ecosystem of Twitter-dependent businesses is going anywhere any time soon.
Catch Jamie speak alongside Jim Haysom, Autto Trader's Business Development Director - Digital Marketing at ad:tech London Platforms & Devices Summit (21-22 October). Also on the programme are MoPub and Twitter speaking alongside Three and StrikeAd. Click here for further information.