New figures from Results International show that the number of marcoms deals completed in 2018 grew to 882, a four per cent increase on 2017. The number of deals hit a two year high in Q3 2018, only to increase further in the final quarter with 248 deals in total.
North America was again the most active region last year with 377 deals completed, as well as the most active buyer region with 387 deals. The UK had its most active quarter since Q3 2016 both in terms of number of buyers (40) and targets (37).
Full service digital was the most active marcoms subsector in 2018 with 126 deals, followed by integrated (72) and website UX and build (71). Results says this confirms the attractiveness of integrated offerings with a full-funnel proposition and the ability to build and activate experiences at scale.
Media was the fifth most active sector in 2018 with 65 deals globally, a 20 per cent increase on the previous year. This was driven by Out of Home acquisitions, including the takeover of APN Outdoor Group by JCDecaux and the Adshel Street purchase by oOh!media in Australia.
Programmatic companies were also popular with Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital adding MightyHive to its MediaMonks production company.
Results’ Julie Langley says: “The MightyHive deal adds another leg to S4 Capital after securing content capabilities through the MediaMonks acquisition in Q3. What’s worth noting is it highlights the significance of in-house offerings.
“This trend could be viewed as an effort to better compete with consulting firms that are used to on-premises work. It could equally be seen as a reaction to brands increasingly taking certain functions in-house: this strategy is also apparent in the majority stake taken in Inside Ideas Group, home to in-house agency Oliver, by You & Mr Jones earlier this month.”
Also in Q4, the number of deals involving content agencies more than doubled on the previous quarter. This included US-based advertising and creative agency Eleven Inc being acquired by Vision 7 Communications (part of Bluefocus Communication), while Cognizant bought content agency Mustache and IPG agency Golin purchased Hurrah Production, a creative content studio based in Singapore.
The single biggest deal in Q4 was Quad/Graphic, a listed US printing and marketing services company, which bought the (also listed) printing and publishing services company LSC Communications for $1.4bn. The deal consolidates two of the largest US printing and publishing companies.
The most active buyer in 2018 was Dentsu with 31 deals. It was followed by WPP, which only acquired 15 marcoms companies this year – a 50 per cent drop from last year and a direct consequence of new CEO Mark Read’s ongoing group restructuring.
Accenture retained its third position in the list of most active buyers with nine deals in 2018. These included the purchase of Swedish data-driven marketing group Kaplan in November, demonstrating the importance of teams of tech experts that can fully leverage existing marketing platforms. The acquisition of Kaplan was followed by the programmatic adtech company Adaptly in December, confirming Accenture’s foray into media after the launch of its programmatic unit in May 2018.
Consultancies overall accounted for 23 of the marcoms deals this year, 12 of which took place in Q4. Accenture completed 39 per cent of all consultancy deals in 2018, followed by Capgemini and E&Y, which each acquired three marcoms companies.