Spotlight on Zynga's ad business as Apple's privacy update stings – Reuters

The Zynga logo is pictured at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo
Nov 8 (Reuters) – Zynga Inc's (ZNGA.O) ad revenue will be in focus when the company reports results on Monday, as investors track the impact of recent changes in Apple's privacy policy on the "FarmVille" maker's ability to target ads and attract gamers.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) launched its privacy update in April, making it hard for third-play apps to track iPhone users without their consent and leading to warnings from several social media firms, including Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) and Snap Inc . read more
"Companies that rely on in-game advertising for most of their revenue are more exposed to the risk of Apple's privacy changes," said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at Ampere Analysis.
"One area that continues to impact all mobile games companies is user acquisition," he added.
The "Empires & Puzzles" owner, during its second-quarter earnings call, had warned that pressure on ad revenue and bookings would be more pronounced in the third quarter, given the adoption of Apple's privacy changes.
Roughly 85% of iOS users updated to the recent version of the operating system as of July, data from analytics firm Newzoo shows. However, opt-in rate for users to allow tracking was relatively low, according to app monetization specialist Fyber.
The uncertainties looming over the iOS platform could spark a wave of consolidation among mobile gaming companies, analysts said.
"This kind of M&A activity will continue throughout the rest of 2021 and into 2022 as advertisers explore new ways to monetize in-game ads on iOS", analytics firm GlobalData's gaming analyst Rupantar Guha said.
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* Zynga has spent billions of dollars on acquiring mobile game developers Peak, Rollic and Echtra Games to beef up its game roster. It also bought mobile game ad network Chartboost to bring advertising in-house.
* Analysts estimate ZNGA's third-quarter net bookings to grow 6.05% to $666 million when it reports on Monday, the slowest in 13 quarters.
* Earnings per share is estimated at 7 cents.
* Average analyst rating on stock is "buy", with 18 "strong buy" or "buy", no "hold" and 1 "sell".
* Median price target is $11 versus the current price of $6.90.
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