2016 was a big year for mergers and acquisitions in the digital marketing space. A report from marketing consultancy R3 found that there were more than 200 deals in the first half of the year alone.
The number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry more than doubled from the year before. During the first six months of 2015, there were just 85 M&As, worth around $2.1 billion. The 204 M&As during the first six months of 2016 were worth nearly $7 billion. Here’s a closer look at some of the most noteworthy mergers and acquisitions during the last year.
Over the summer of 2016, IZEA, a leader in the social sponsorship industry, purchased content marketing platform ZenContent for $4.5 million in equity and cash. The acquisition of ZenContent allows IZEA to expand its client base and cement its position as a leader in the influencer marketing and content marketing arena.
Prior to the purchase, IZEA’s roster of creators included celebrities, social media stars, and journalists. The acquisition will allow the two companies to expand into the field of expert content creation.
The purchase of ZenContent isn’t IZEA’s first foray into the content marketing field. In 2015, it also bought Ebyline for $8.5 million in cash and stock. That purchase brought Ebyline’s network of more than 12,000 content creators into the IZEA fold.
Google and FameBit
In 2016, Google also hopped into the marketing and monetization game when it purchased FameBit, a company that connects YouTube creators with brands. The goal of the acquisition was to increase the number of paid, branded content opportunities available to creators.
Although the acquisition of FameBit would seem to limit the opportunities available to YouTubers, Google was quick to stress that the purchase wouldn’t prevent creators from using other platforms or marketplaces if they wanted to. The hope was that the purchase of FameBit would open the door to social sponsorship for creators of all sizes, from those with a massive audience to those who get just a few hundred views a month.
Experticity and ReadyPulse
During the spring of 2016, Experticity, a company known for offline influencer marketing, purchased ReadyPulse, an online influencer marketing platform. The marketing merger paired Experticity’s community of more than one million influencers with ReadyPulse’s SaaS marketing platform.
Dentsu Aegis and Merkle
Companies that have a more traditional marketing and PR focus, such as Dentsu Aegis, are beginning to realize that the future is digital. As part of its goal to switch to a fully digital portfolio by 2020, the agency has focused on purchasing firms that work in the digital arena.
In 2016, Dentsu Aegis acquired a majority stake in Merkle, a data and performance marketing agency, in a deal that was worth an estimated $1.5 billion.
IBM and Resource/Ammirati
2016 saw IBM make its first foray into acquiring creative agencies when its Interactive Experience group purchased Resource/Ammirati. The deal was put forth as a win-win for both companies.
In acquiring Resource/Ammirati, IBM was able to secure a place in the marketing community. It was also able to take advantage of the existing relationships Resource/Ammirati has in the industry. Meanwhile, the creative agency is able to take advantage of IBM’s data and analytics proficiencies, including the company’s Watson software.
The vast number of acquisitions and mergers in the marketing industry suggests one thing. Companies are stronger when they work together. Purchasing a smaller company allows an established business to zero in on and improve in one area. This can include content marketing, social sponsorship or data analysis. As the digital marketing industry continues to grow, it will be exciting to see which companies decide to partner up in 2017 and beyond.