DOJ Green Lights Proposed Outbrain and Taboola Merger

Combining forces will help it go up against Facebook and Google

The DOJ won't fight a proposed merger between Taboola and Outbrain. Outbrain, Taboola

The Department of Justice won’t get in the way of the merger of native advertising giants Taboola and Outbrain, the companies told employees in a staff email today seen by Adweek.

The combined entity will include more than 2,000 employees across 23 global offices that serve more than 20,000 clients in over 50 countries. But it still faces a regulatory hurdle from the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority.

A spokesperson for the DOJ did not immediately return a request for comment.

The merger, announced in October, would put Taboola founder and CEO Adam Singolda at the head of the rebranded company.

Content generated and served by Taboola and Outbrain appears across thousands of websites around the world. Their promoted stories, often referred to as “clickbait,” live adjacent to publishers’ native content as another way to generate revenue.

Big Tech, and the powerful place those companies have in the digital ad ecosystem, has been under new scrutiny in recent months. The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will appear before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee next week.

In addition, multiple state attorneys general and the DOJ are reportedly probing Google over its dominance in the digital ad industry. Their antitrust suits are anticipated to be filed in the fall.

The Taboola-Outbrain merger had been proposed by the companies’ executives as way for publishers to monetize digital content outside of Big Tech’s monopolies. But some publishers Adweek has been talking to question how the merged company would be structured and what sort of terms it would offer publishers.

“What will be interesting is what happens to yield?” a publishing source told Adweek. “Will this be an improvement? Will the joined forces allow more yield to flow through to publishers? Or does this actually remove some competition in such a way that yield suffers? I don’t know.”

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.