Jerry Buhlmann: Dentsu Aegis' chief executive
Jerry Buhlmann: Dentsu Aegis' chief executive
A view from Mark Williams

What you need to know about the Dentsu Aegis/Merkle deal

Dentsu Aegis Network recently announced it had acquired a majority stake in independent agency Merkle. It's a "massive deal" and here's why, according Mark...

Many in the UK will be unfamiliar with Merkle, yet it is one of the largest independent agencies in the US. It is a hugely exciting business, operating at the forefront of data-driven marketing.

Make no mistake, this is a massive deal for our industry, probably as big as the acquisition of an independent can be. To get any bigger you’d more than likely be looking at the acquisition of a network. And to see Merkle selling to a trade buyer is going to surprise a lot of people.

Merkle is still at the relatively early stage of pursuing global growth by storm – after all it only made inroads into Europe 18 months ago – and it’s a big decision for an agency to partner with an already established global network rather than continue to go it alone at this stage in its development.

For Dentsu Aegis it’s a massive coup, though they will likely have paid handsomely for the privilege. And rightly so. Merkle is a fantastic business, and it comes hot on the heels of Dentsu Aegis’ acquisition of Gyro just a few weeks ago.

Merkle has been on a super high growth trajectory for several years, building the foundations for a next generation data-driven agency. This deal will propel it further forwards on this path. It has a strong US presence, but very little in Asia and has only recently started expanding in Europe with voracity, buying UK businesses Periscopix (May 2015), DBG (Feb 2016) and Comet (March 2016) in rapid succession. Dentsu Aegis’ strong Asian and European presence will complement Merkle’s ambitions perfectly.

Merkle has a wealth of data analytics expertise and employs many of those sought after breeds, the data scientist, the technologist and the tech/data enabled marketer.

It’s no secret that Dentsu Aegis is sitting on a large war chest and this acquisition is a brilliant choice, giving the network real scale and breadth and continued diversity outside of its Asian homeland.