French ad giant Publicis announced Sunday it will acquire Epsilon, the data marketing arm of Alliance Data Systems Corporation, for a net price of $3.95 billion, and at a total cash consideration of $4.4 billion after a tax step-up.

Why it matters: It's one of the biggest agency acquisitions in years. It gives Publicis access to the information of 250 million people (per Epsilon's estimates) that it can use to build better ad-targeting strategies in-house.

The big picture: Agencies are grappling over whether they should out-source data science operations or build or buy them to bring them in-house.

  • IPG bought Acxiom last year for $2.3 billion.
  • Dentsu bought a majority stake in Merkle in 2016 for the same reason.

Be smart: Agencies have another reason to invest in bringing their own data solutions in-house: fending off competition. Consultancies like Accenture are bringing more data solutions in-house to execute on ad campaigns.

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Pac-12 football players threaten coronavirus opt-out

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of Pac-12 football players have threatened to opt out of the season unless the conference addresses systemic inequities and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: College football players have never had more leverage than they do right now, as the sport tries to stage a season amid the pandemic. And their willingness to use it shows we've entered a new age in college sports.

Betting on inflation is paying off big for investors

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The specter of rising inflation is helping power assets like gold, silver and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) to strong returns with record demand this year.

The big picture: Investors continue to pack in even as inflation metrics like the consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index have remained anchored.

Scoop: Top CEOs urge Congress to help small businesses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With a new coronavirus relief measure stalled in Congress, CEOs of some of the world's biggest companies have banded together to send a message to Washington: Get money to small businesses now!

Why it matters: "By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon," warns the letter, organized by Howard Schultz and signed by more than 100 CEOs.