August, 2021

Business Insider features Chris Sahota and Ciesco market intelligence

Ad industry mergers-and-acquisitions activity has bounced back over the past seven months after taking a big pandemic hit in 2020.

M&A deals rose 46% year-over-year by volume in the first half of 2021 with a focus on digital advertising and martech, according to advisory firm Ciesco. Even excluding the Discovery TimeWarner mega-merger, the total value of these deals more than doubled, from $25.2 billion in the first half of 2020 to $55.1 billion in 2021.

Ciesco CEO Chris Sahota said private equity firms led the way in the first half of 2021 with an 80% year-over-year increase in total deals.

Gone are the days when ad giants like WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, and Dentsu closed 30 or more deals in a single year, Sahota said. Consulting giant Accenture has become the industry’s top buyer, acquiring 16 advertising businesses in 2019 and 12 in 2020. Upstart agencies like Jellyfish, S4 Capital, and You & Mr. Jones also regularly bid against PE firms.