IPG Nears Acxiom Deal, Signals Deeper Dive Into Consumer Data

In what likely is the biggest consumer data play by any agency holding company since Dentsu Aegis Network’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Merkle, Interpublic is expected to announce a deal to acquire the Marketing Solutions Business of Big Data firm Acxiom.

The deal, reportedly valued at more than $2 billion, would be Interpublic’s biggest and most significant acquisition since Michael Roth took over as CEO in 2005.

The Acxiom deal would give Interpublic the ability to enhance and diversify its consumer data services and targeting offering at a time when regulators and consumer advocacy groups are pushing to give consumers even more privacy protections and control of their own data.

Acxiom is one of the biggest aggregators and integrators of consumer data and has built a variety of products enabling brands, agencies and the media to attribute data to an individual's identity on a non-PII (personally identifiable information) basis.



Acxiom’s Marketing Solutions Business has been popular with a number of media organizations, which use it to attribute data to target unique identities across digital media.

As of late last week, Dentsu was also considered to be in the running for the Acxiom unit, but this morning CNBC reported that Interpublic is “near a deal” to acquire it for $2.2 billion.

“What the deal is likely to lead to is more debate about the need to own data in a GDPR world, especially with signs that the U.S. may be moving the same way (California has introduced its own version of GDPR),” the equities research team at Liberum speculated in a note to investors this morning.

“There will therefore be a question of whether the other agency groups will take similar steps and it may also influence WPP’s decision on what it does with its Kantar Data Management (i.e. market research) business, where WPP has historically claimed the value of owning data.

“We would probably give most attention to what Publicis does next, given the importance it placed on data as integral to its offering at its Capital Markets Day earlier this year," Liberum continues.

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