Publicis promises a bright new data-based dawn as it completes Epsilon acquisition

Everyone’s looking for a silver bullet – or secret sauce – and Publicis reckons it’s found one as it completes the acquisition of US data firm Epsilon for a net $3.95bn.

Last year Interpublic bought its own version, Acxiom, for $2.2bn although WPP is swimming against the tide to a degree, entering into exclusive talks with Bain Capital over the sale of some or all of datas division Kantar.

Publicis says the deal completes its transformation to become the “industry leader in delivering personalized experiences at scale.” For now it looks as though Epsilon will sit independently, supplying its wares to Publicis Communications, Media, Health and Publicis.Sapient.

CEO Arthur Sadoun (below with chairman Maurice Levy) says: This acquisition completes our sets of assets harmoniously, with data capabilities that are second to none, and propels the Groupe as the global leader of personalized experiences at scale.

“With the addition of Epsilon’s capabilities in data to our existing creative, media and technology firepower, we have all the necessary assets and talent to help our clients leapfrog their competition and grow profitably, in a data-led, digital-first world.

“Our clients will benefit from a seamless, end-to-end service to solve all their marketing and transformation challenges across creative, media, data and technology.

Our focus in the next months will be to successfully execute the integration while implementing our model, the Power of One, with our clients.

Over the last few weeks, client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, showing a huge amount of interest and demand that we will now be able to address. All of this gives us great confidence for the future.”

Epsilon will continue in the hands of current CEO Bryan Kennedy, who will join the Publicis Executive Committee and report directly to Sadoun.

All these deals sound great at the time, the key is how rapidly the new business can be integrated and the benefits it brings.

The potential benefits for Publicis Media seem pretty straightforward, more data allowing better targeting. On the creative agency side Publicis says: “Publicis Communications will leverage Epsilon’s customer insights to improve ideation and build more relevant campaigns, and will power Epsilon’s Dynamic Creative Engine (whatever that is) to adapt to real-time consumer context.”

Which may ring a few alarm bells at Publicis agencies including Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, BBH and Publicis Worldwide who are probably already concerned at being sidelined as Publicis the Groupe turns itself into what to most people looks like a tech-based consultancy.

Data-based “ideation” looks like a clear sign that the Math Men have won – in Paris anyway.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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