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IPG to acquire most of Acxiom for $2.3 billion

Sarah Grillo / Axios

Acxiom, one of the largest publicly-traded ad tech firms, has sold the majority of its business to Interpublic Group (IPG), one of the largest global advertising holding companies, for $2.3 billion, the companies announced Monday.

Why it matters: It's the latest major ad tech company to go through a big sale as the data-driven advertising market continues to be squeezed by business pressure from tech giants like Google and Facebook and regulatory pressure around data privacy.

What's at stake: The deal allows Acxiom to offload its Marketing Solutions division, which took a hit when Facebook began cracking down on third-party data brokers after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. It gives IPG access to billions of consumer data sets to its grow its data-driven, ad-buying business.

  • Analysts note that the acquisition reaffirms IPG's commitment to remaining a publicly-traded company.
  • Arun Kumar, IPG’s first global chief data and marketing technology officer, will oversee the acquisition.
  • But, but, but: Senior advertising analyst Brian Weiner warns in a Wall Street Journal interview that the acquisition could pose some risk to IPG, given all of the public and regulatory attention around data privacy.

Acxiom will remain a publicly-traded company, and will retain LiveRamp, a platform that helps mine, identify and move data that it acquired in 2014. LiveRamp has since become its fastest-growing division.

  • Acxiom says it will rename its company "LiveRamp" and will begin trading its common stock under the new ticker symbol “RAMP."
  • Acxiom says it's offloading its marketing solutions business, which accounts for the majority of its revenue, to help drive greater financial flexibility for further deals down the line.
  • The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, pending regulatory approval.

Between the lines: Acxiom had been looking to sell off its marketing solutions business for some time. Several agencies were interested in the acquisition, according to previous reports.

  • Acxiom says it finally sold to IPG because it offered an all-cash transaction and because of the strong working relationship the two companies have already created.
  • Acxiom and IPG formed a global partnership late last year to strengthen IPG’s data and analytics capabilities for its media buying and digital agencies, Initiative and UM.