NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bob Lord, AOL's (AOL) point man for the company's big bet on automated advertising, is fielding lots of calls these days from smaller ad-technology companies looking to be acquired.
"My phone is ringing off the hook with feature-set companies trying to figure out how they become part of a bigger platform," said Lord, CEO of AOL's advertising platforms, referring to the array of technology companies focused on one or more segments of automated, or programmatic advertising. "You're going to see a lot of consolidation happen."
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AOL has been buying a handful of ad-tech companies over the past two years, spending more than half-a-billion dollars expanding its services to cover everything from data collection and fraud prevention to measurement and targeting for video and display on mobile and "linear" television, all designed to buy and sell advertising in real time.
The goal shares by all ad-tech companies is getting a piece of a rapidly expanding pie. Spending on programmatic display advertising in the U.S. is expected to have grown 137% in 2014, or about $10 billion, according to eMarketer, an industry monitor. By 2016, more than $20 billion will be spent on advertising purchased on programmatic ad platforms, says eMarketer.
As television, especially local television, opens its airwaves to automated advertising, marketers will increasingly look to programmatic ad platforms to advertise their products, said Lord, who came to AOL in mid-2013 after running the marketing trailblazer Razorfish and the digital technologies division at Publicis Groupe.
Most recently, AOL spent about $50 million, for Vidible, which allows Web sites to add relevant and timely videos from other publishers, either by searching Vidible's network or psting them. The Vidible deal, first reported by ReCode, follows CEO Tim Armstrong's announcement in May that AOL would spend $101 million for Convertro, which helps marketers evaluate ad purchases.
Vidible and Convertro joined with AOL's Advertising.com, Ad-Tech and Adap.TV, the online video technology service AOL acquired last summer for $405 million in cash.