Talon, the number three player in the UK’s outdoor media buying market, has acquired independent outdoor creative specialist Grand Visual for an undisclosed sum.
The deal includes QDot, a spin-off housing the technology that Grand Visual uses to deliver creative to digital outdoor screens and handle campaign reporting. The two companies employ 48 people globally across London, New York and a development hub in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The parties were tight-lipped about the terms of the deal, which went through in May but was kept under wraps until now due to what Campaign understands are client sensitivities that had to be ironed out.
However, Grand Visual and QDot will retain their brands and existing management structure, led by founder and chief executive Neil Morris, alongside Grand Visual managing director Dan Dawson and his counterpart at QDot, Ben Putland.
It is understood that Talon’s key motive for the acquisition was to add creative to its offering in markets outside the UK, particularly in the US. Earlier this year, it bought US independent outdoor media agency Grandesign.
Talon group chief executive Barry Cupples said: "[This deal] means we are in an enviable position to offer true end-to-end service for our clients – as well as providing a tailored solution to those who need to plug specific services into their own OOH ecosystems."
One outdoor industry figure, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed surprise that Grand Visual had not been acquired earlier in its 14-year history.
Talon’s larger rivals have each invested in similar companies – Kinetic last year took a stake in its content management system joint venture partner and creative specialist DOOH.com, while Posterscope acquired dynamic content delivery company Liveposter in 2016.
Three-fifths of Grand Visual’s revenue last year was earned from direct-to-client work, according to Morris. These clients include Warner Brothers, Amazon Studios, Netflix and Spotify, for which it worked in five markets last year.
However, Morris declined to disclose revenue figures and Grand Visual’s latest accounts filed at Companies House do not include them.
Grand Visual has received "multiple approaches" to sell over the past six or seven years, Morris said, adding: "None of them felt like the right fit and we’ve been making the most of what is there, focusing on how outdoor could be scaleable.
"We know Talon, we’ve worked with them since we started. There’s a chemistry there. We’ve collaborated on big pieces of work that have shown me that bringing media and creative together is the way to go."
Talon handles outdoor media planning and buying for Omnicom Media Group UK and Havas Media UK agencies, along with other agencies including AMS Media Group, John Ayling & Associates, Goodstuff Communications, Ptarmigan Media and Republic of Media.