Earlier this week, GroupM’s digital agency Essence set up shop in Shanghai China. Not to be outdone, competitor Dentsu Aegis Network has taken a step to strengthen its own digital operation in the region with an agreement to acquire Darwin Marketing there.
After the deal is completed, Darwin -- a performance marketing agency -- will be integrated with Dentsu’s iProspect, which combined will form a team of 150 search and performance specialists, of which about 80 currently comprise Darwin.
The agency expansion activity in the market is driven by the rapid growth of digital ad and marketing expenditures there. According to Carat, also part of Dentsu Aegis, digital advertising spending soared nearly 29% in China last year, on top of 35% growth the prior year.
Despite concerns of an economic slowdown in the country, digital marketing outlays are expected to remind strong. Carat predicts another 29% in digital ad spend this year, which will account for one quarter of China’s total ad expenditures in 2016.
Founded in 2006, Darwin was one of the first digital agencies to set up operations in China, according to Dentsu Aegis. The company's services include search engine marketing (SEM) and other digital advertising services in the performance domain as well as social media.
Dentsu Aegis Network, based in London, is the Dentsu arm that runs its operations outside of Japan. In addition to Carat and iProspect agency brands include mcgarrybowen, MKTG, Vizeum and Postercope, among others.