Interpublic Group’s $2.3 billion purchase of Acxiom Marketing Services in 2018 shook the industry. And it reverberated into 2019 with Publicis Groupe’s follow-up acquisition of Epsilon.
This week on the podcast, IPG Chief Data and Technology Officer Arun Kumar comes into the studio for a frank discussion of the deal and the larger trend of holding companies buying data providers.
What did IPG get with Acxiom? How will clients benefit? What are the risks? It’s all in this episode.
Kumar says GDPR and heightened concerns over privacy are a rationale for the merger, not a risk factor.
“The privacy landscape is changed,” he says. “These pieces of legislation are bringing the same level of rigor to digital advertising that they brought to direct marketing way back in the ’90s. Who is the company that’s been doing that for years? Acxiom. They live in highly regulated spaces.”
“It’s my neck on the block,” he jokes. “But I am happy to put the target on my head. There are very, very few times in your career when you are going to get to do something that can define what this industry can and should be years from now. If you read about how the holding company came to exist way back in the 1920s and 1930s … I tell my team to think about it the same way.”
Kumar adds, “If you really want a large holding company like IPG to change the way it operates and to have some genuine assets and expertise that drives that change, you’re going to have to make a game-changing bet.”