He who has the gold makes the rules. But the in-house trend doesn’t just apply to brands – agencies are starting to buy up ad-tech vendors, as evidenced by Publicis Groupe’s acquisition Tuesday of mobile programmatic vendor RUN.
Publicis has been dipping into the ad tech waters for a while. The holding company bought up 20% of Israeli performance media player Matomy Media Group earlier this month, and its tech and media unit VivaKi has been doing a bit of investing through its VC arm, VivaKi Ventures. But the RUN purchase represents Publicis Groupe’s first real ad-tech present to itself.
Considering what the competition is up to, it’s a necessary move. WPP just poured $25 million into a data-management platform (DMP) for its trading desk, Xaxis. And Omnicom’s tech arm Annalect is trying to turn itself into a platform.
RUN, at least for the moment, will retain its name, management and operational structure. The technology will operate as a standalone unit within Publicis as part of its media planning and buying arm, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), rather than as part of VivaKi.
“RUN is an owned asset of our group, but we want them to have a robust business, not just with us, but within the general marketplace,” said Lisa Weinstein, SMG’s president of global digital, data and analytics. “While we expect to see their business to continue to grow, their technology also aligns to where we are and will help us get to where we want to be – people-based targeting.”
However, that doesn’t mean current Publicis Groupe clients need to be wary about being obligated to use RUN’s technology, said RUN CEO Seth Hittman.
“We’re going to continue to build our business and our product suite so that the brands that work with Publicis feel more confident about the future,” Hittman told AdExchanger. “But there is no mandate. That’s not the spirit here.”
Weinstein spoke with AdExchanger following the RUN acquisition announcement.