IPG Acquires Acxiom Marketing Solutions

Looks like Acxiom Marketing Solutions (AMS) is an agency business after all.

Interpublic Group said Monday it acquired Acxiom’s legacy data management business for $2.3 billion. AMS represents about three-quarters of Acxiom’s total revenue.

Dennis Self and Rick Erwin will serve as co-presidents of AMS, which will remain a standalone unit aligned with IPG Mediabrands. They’ll report to IPG Mediabrands’ chief data and technology officer, Arun Kumar.

Acxiom’s stock, which has taken a beating in recent months due to a data privacy backlash, was up 14% to $34.21 on reports of the deal. Acxiom announced a strategic review of AMS in February.

Acxiom has long denied that AMS, which helps clients leverage its technology and data solutions, is an agency in disguise. Its sale to IPG acknowledges the unit’s alignment with agency services.

“After careful consideration of a variety of options and potential partners, it became clear that a sale of AMS to IPG, with its scale and breadth of complementary services, represented the best possible path forward for our clients and associates,” Acxiom CEO Scott Howe said in a statement.

AMS, which brings anonymized data on 2.2 billion consumers and 1,600 data and analytics experts to IPG, will beef up the agency group’s data-driven marketing chops as competition from consulting and tech firms heat up.

IPG already has a close relationship with Acxiom, using the data provider’s cross-platform IDs to power media planning and buying through its AMP and Unity platforms. With AMS, IPG can offer more robust services around data strategy and management, audience creation, performance media, planning, buying and analytics.

“… Acxiom Marketing Solutions offers the deepest set of capabilities for helping companies navigate the complexity of creating personalized brand experiences across every consumer touchpoint,” said IPG CEO Michael Roth in a statement. “Combining AMS with a range of IPG assets will help us shape the future of our industry.”

While most of AMS’s services align with IPG’s, the deal also puts the holding company in the business of data sales. It’s not clear how much IPG wants to get into data selling, but in a release, the company said AMS will “diversify IPG’s revenue and earnings mix.”

Selling AMS allows Acxiom to return its attention to LiveRamp. As AdExchanger reported in March, Acxiom’s plan was to sell AMS to drive more shareholder value in a potential sale of LiveRamp, whose value skyrocketed after Salesforce purchased MuleSoft for $6.5 billion in March.

Neither Acxiom nor IPG could make executives available to comment by the time of publication.

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