- Dentsu Aegis Network has taken a majority stake in Ugam, a data and analytics company based in India, according to a press release. Ugam will become part of Dentsu-owned performance marketing agency Merkle with co-founder and CEO Sunii Mirani leading the company.
- Ugam, which has relationships with 75 Fortune 500 companies, offers a range of analytics and digital solutions including retail analytics, survey analytics, technology implementation, data engineering and digital product content solutions. The company has more than 1,800 employees in India, the U.S. and Australia.
- The deal for Ugam is one of Merkle's largest additions and its fifth acquisition in 12 months. Previous acquisitions include experience design firm Filter, digital shop Namics, digital marketing agency Happy Marketers and Salesforce consultancy Amicus Digital.
The added scale and capabilities Merkle gains with its Ugam acquisition is part of the company's efforts to compete with top analytic consulting firms going forward, said Merkle's EVP of Analytics Alex Yoder in the press release. In particular, the U.S. marketing and media analytics industry is not only becoming more competitive, but also more global. Additionally, companies need to respond to growing interest in using artificial intelligence and machine learning for analytics.
Ugam — whose name comes from the Sanskrit word for "source" or "origin" — offers a big data tech platform and analytics to guide industry-specific decision-making. For retailers, for instance, the company says its data analysis supports merchandising, marketing and channel management decisions. For market research firms, it provides end-to-end research operations, technology transitioning support, data warehousing, visualization and reporting.
Ugam says its customers include five of the top 10 U.S. retailers, four of the leading Australian retailers and 13 of the top 25 market research firms.
The acquisition is the latest in a series that has made 117-year-old Tokyo-based Dentsu one of the most active buyers among global advertising/marketing networks. Last year, for instance, Dentsu bought 31 companies. The buying spree comes as Dentsu has performed well compared to other agency holding groups, which have been struggling as competition grows from consultancies, in-housing by customers and other pressures. In particular, Dentsu has pointed to growth in digital activities as a reason for its 3.4% organic growth in 2018.
Data and analytics continue to be sought-after properties as the targeting, personalization and attribution needs of modern marketers are increasingly powered by big data and the ability to translate that volume of information into meaningful insights.
Earlier this month, the Publicis Group completed its purchase of data marketing firm Epsilon for a net value of $3.95 billion, the biggest deal in Publicis' history. Epsilon, which was sold by parent company Alliance Data Systems Corporation, provides data management services and targeted marketing solutions focused on personalization.
Last December, Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) bought Acxiom's data marketing division, Acxiom Marketing Solutions, for $2.3 billion.