Marketing consultant R3 Worldwide is out with a new report indicating that the total deal value for M&A activity in the marketing sector soared 88% in the first half of the year to $9.3 billion, versus the first half of 2017.
The total number of deals remained steady at just under 200, while many of the deals are far larger.
R3 notes that that spike in valuation was driven partly by “unconventional” buyers -- most notably AT&T, which plunked down $1.6 billion for AppNexus, the ad-tech firm that operates a global advertising marketplace and provides enterprise products and services for marketers.
Regular players in the field also remained active -- like Accenture, which did three deals in the period paying a total of $445 million.
And some ad holding companies, including Omnicom, Hakuhodo and Interpublic also increased M&A activity in H1. And the IPG activity does not include its acquisition of Acxiom, which occurred in earlier this month.
That said, R3 principal and cofounder Greg Paull surmised: “The real story in the first of this year has been the unconventional buyers. We are seeing brands like L’Oreal, Cars.com and AT&T becoming active the marketing M&A space to invest and in and build up internal capabilities.