The Monday Stack: Epsilon Acquired by Publicis

The French-based, global advertising and PR giant Publicis Worldwide yesterday announced that it was acquiring marketing data services company Epsilon from Alliance Data for $4.4 billion, and forming a strategic partnership with the remaining parts of Alliance Data’s business. The move extends the trend of advertising businesses to bring data procurement and management in-house rather than source the services from third parties. An underlying driver for the trend is likely the parallel trend towards protecting consumer data privacy.

At $4.4 billion, the deal is substantial — in the same ballpark as the price Adobe paid to own Marketo last September. Talks began earlier this month. 

If Publicis is a global operation, so is Epsilon, with some 7,000 employees across 70 worldwide offices. It had remained one of the largest data marketing services companies, managing profiles of around 250 million consumers in the U.S. alone; not far behind Experian’s collection of over 300 million. A little over three years ago, it seemed to be on the brink of entering competition with the wide-ranging offerings of the major marketing suites, but former President and CTO Chris Harrison told us back then: “Rather than broad, I’d say we’re comprehensive,” but the “gravitational force…is always coming back to what the data is telling us.”  The acquisition appears to include Epsilon’s Conversant business.

In a release, Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis, said of the acquisition: “(Publicis) is bringing the necessary technology, the expertise and the talent to complement our offer in creativity, media and business transformation, and help our clients leapfrog their competition and grow profitably.”

Update. Epsilon-Conversant CEO, Bryan Kennedy, told us: “This is a highly compelling transaction for all parties involved. By putting Epsilon-Conversant at the center of its operations, Publicis will become an industry leader in delivering personalized experiences at scale. Epsilon-Conversant will in return bring the benefit of Publicis scale in media, creativity and digital business transformation to its clients. As consumer preferences and client needs continue to change, investment in data-driven, digital-first engagement products and capabilities is a market imperative. Epsilon-Conversant’s rare combination of data assets, technology and 9,000 world-class associates are highly attractive to Publicis Groupe.”

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If anyone thinks influencer marketing is still on the soft, artistic side of the business — Kendall Jenner and puppies — hopefully we’ve recently given you reason to think again. The data science foundation for influencer marketing is evolving, and micro-influencers have an important role to play in the B2B space, just like the macro-influencers in B2C.

And here comes SocialPubli.com with a report (published earlier this year) about the impact of influencer marketing on marketers’ future plans. As an influencer platform, it does of course have skin in the game. But here are some interesting highlights:

  • The influencer marketing industry is poised to reach between
    $5 billion and $10 billion by 2022 (source: Business Insider)
  • 52.6 percent of respondents allocate at least
    10 percent of their budgets to influencer marketing
  • The industry has matured and
    close to a third of marketers have been using influencer marketing for more than 3 years
  • Crisis management is still handled through traditional comms channels rather than through influencers

There is a heavy uptake of influencer marketing among the 150 professionals surveyed, but that result is likely affected by the majority of them being SocialPublic customers.

Related article: Choose Your Influencers Carefully

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In case you’re not tracking how this year’s Marketing Hall of Femme ceremony is coming together (bookmark this), here are some appearances we can confirm. Alicia Tillman, a previous Hall of Femme honoree, and global CMO for SAP, one of the world’s three largest software companies, will be joining us for a fireside chat. Among our panelists will be Tanya Van Court, CEO of Goalsetter (as featured on Shark Tank); Kelly Hippler, Chief Sales Officer at Forrester; Alex Kirk, director of sales, marketing and research at Refinery29 (the popular lifestyle destination for modern women); Marisa Kopec, VP innovation and product management at SiriusDecisions; Sandy Rubinstein, CEO of the female-minority owned DXagency; Kathleen Tulley, VP content, medical communications at Haymarket Media (and winner of the Marianne Dekker Mattera Mentor Award). Plus the participation of Girls Inc, and much more still to be announced.

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