Few would challenge the Publicis policy of investing in digital assets in the manner pursued so energetically by chief executive Maurice Lévy. It has proved to be a good strategy so far. And, as a target, LBi has made great progress from its darker days to become a well respected business.
Posts Tagged: Digitas
The future of stand alone digital marketing agencies looks increasingly limited as we learn today that Saatchi & Saatchi France is to absorb the Duke digital agency.
A few months ago Engine Group’s digital agency Altogether Digital merged with WCRS and, in a sort of role reversal, Dare merged with sister creative agency MCBD. Of course the leader in this trend was AKQA, a digital agency that in 2001 seemed to have adopted a rather novel and unexpected strategy by merging with US creative agency Citron Haligman Bedecarré to become a seamless whole.
Publicis is first out of the blocks with its results for 2011 and the figures look worth boasting about, although it would be premature to do so until the other global groups have declared their results too.
When Publicis Groupe announced the purchase of Pixelpark last week, valuing it at €30m, it was just the latest in a long line of digital acquisitions that have transformed the profile of the French group’s business over the last decade.
Looking at last year’s revenue figures for agency groups listed on world stock markets, published this week, it becomes very clear that there are four categories at the top and then a mass of “also rans” beneath.
WPP and Omnicom are twice the size of the Publicis and Interpublic, which in turn are twice the size of Dentsu, which in turn is roughly twice the size of Havas, Aegis and Hakuhodo.
Two months ago the question was asked here: What’s Maurice Lévy’s game? At that time his recent acquisition spree could have been interpreted as a desire to outperform world leader WPP before he collected his pension. Or maybe he was simply pursuing what was the best strategy for growth by investing in digital and growth markets.
The strategic benefit gained by Publicis from buying digital assets in the US and Europe is vividly displayed in the quarterly results published last week.
Like most businesses, Publicis retains strong national ties with its French birthplace and past attempts to balance that domestic presence with an equally strong penetration of overseas markets have sometimes been frustrated, such as in the Foote Cone & Belding link-up that was aborted in 1996 and its seemingly unrewarding inherited alliance with Dentsu.
While it comes as no surprise to hear that AKQA is in talks about selling out and thereby realising a gain for shareholders like private equity investor General Atlantic Partners, it does seem a little far-fetched to think that Dentsu or anyone else would part with $600 million to acquire it.
The rationalisation of Publicis Groupe’s massive investment in digital marketing seems to have triggered internal power struggles and extensive departures, leaving the ambitious media buying mogul Jack Klues heading up all of the group’s digital activities.