Dentsu-Aegis To Acquire Indie Media Agency DWA To Boost Its B2B Chops

Dentsu-Aegis Network is buying its agency Merkle an early Christmas gift: San Francisco-based B2B media agency DWA.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

All DWA’s 150 employees will join Merkle, and the agency will operate as a Merkle company.

“There’s a growing group of enterprise level, B-to-B and technology businesses, all moving at breakneck pace to adopt the best advertising solutions and platforms,” David Williams, president and CEO of Merkle, said in statement. “DWA’s client list reflects a clear early-mover advantage.”

Those clients include blue chip B2B brands, including Cisco, Logitech, Citrix and TriNet.

“We were looking for a growth plan at DWA and Merkle was looking for an agency with very strong B2B roots, so it came together in a very synergistic deal,” Bob Ray, CEO of DWA, told AdExchanger. “Culturally, it’s a really good fit and we had been partnering with them since before the deal was done to augment our data management capabilities with theirs.”

DWA’s focus on managing data-driven digital campaigns for B2B enterprises meshes with Merkle’s people-based marketing capabilities via its M1 platform.

The acquisition could significantly enhance DWA’s ability to manage identity and audiences across platforms.

While M1 originated with a consumer go-to-market strategy, Dentsu’s acquisition of DWA will give Merkle more scale and clout with which to grow its network of B2B audience data.

“When you’re talking about business marketing, you’re talking about a larger decision group and a lot of different influencers,” Ray said. “On the technology side, there are a lot of considered purchases … and similarities to B2C, so you’ll see a lot of crossover in how people market not just on the consumer front, but on the business end.”

B2B marketers traditionally lacked access to the same granular data sets as their B2C counterparts.

Media is also normally disconnected from sales, as B2B marketers prioritize their corporate sites, or offline channels like trade show marketing and direct marketing.

Also, B2B targeting mostly focuses at account level rather than at the individual level, so it’s hard to develop a cookie pool with any volume.

However, more B2B marketers are leveraging advancements in data and account-based marketing through systems like M1, which isn’t based on cookies.

The next wave of B2B advertising will emphasize creative, as access to first- and second-party insights improves B2B marketers’ ability to merge precision targeting with custom creative.

While DWA is Dentsu’s latest B2B acquisition, it’s not its first. Dentsu bought B2B creative shop gyro last year and Singaporean B2B agency Band Interprise in 2014. It has since merged them, under the gyro name.

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