WPP's Millward Brown Buys InsightExpress

It’s a big day for WPP on the acquisition front. First GroupM confirmed buying French search marketing specialist Keyade. Now research outfit Millward Brown has confirmed its acquiring InsightExpress, a provider of media analytics and marketing accountability solutions in the U.S. InsightExpress will be combined with Millward Brown Digital, the company's US-based digital unit.

Terms weren’t disclosed but WPP said InsightExpress' 2013 revenues were $26.4 million with gross assets of US$8.8 million. The company has over 200 clients including NBCUniversal, Google, Netflix, Hulu and Microsoft. Founded in 1999, the company is based in Stamford, CT, with offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco and employs 100 people.

“Both InsightExpress and Millward Brown Digital have a history of innovating and delivering high impact digital and cross media effectiveness solutions,” said Mary Ann Packo CEO, Millward Brown North America. “By bringing together these two pioneers, we’re building on our strategy to expand our digital offer and accelerate innovation, supported by the strength of Millward Brown’s global footprint and the broader Kantar network."

The holding company said the purchase continues its strategy of investing in fast-growing markets and sectors such as data and digital. On a conference call with analysts today, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said the company has made 43 acquisitions so far this year including the two confirmed today. In recent years, he said, acquisitions have added between 2% and 3% to WPP’s annual revenue growth.

It’s likely that WPP will continue its shopping spree. Sorrell said the pipeline for the kinds of acquisitions it’s looking for (small-to-midsized purchases in new media and fast-growing markets) is “very strong.” The company spent about 207 million British Pounds on acquisitions in the first half of the year (about $342 million at today’s exchange rate) and has earmarked between 300 million to 400 million Pounds for acquisitions for the full year. That’s up from the 193 million Pounds the company spent on M&A last year. Sorrell said the company’s last major acquisition came in 2008 with the purchase of research company TNS for nearly $2 billion.

WPP's digital revenues (including associates) were over $6 billion in 2013, approximately 35% of the Group's total revenues of $17.3 billion. WPP has set a target of 40-45% of revenue to be derived from digital in the next five years.

Millward Brown, whose 2013 revenues exceeded $1 billion, is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP.  

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