Ciesco Market Intelligence 7 December 2017

Ciesco publishes 2017 Global M&A Review


An extensive research report analysing the global M&A activity in the digital, media, marketing, and related technology sectors, as well as an outlook for the sector.

Our team tracks all M&A activity in the sector throughout the year and publishes the key findings, along with our analysis, insights, and outlook in a report, published annually. These reports not only offer valuable deal intelligence in terms of volume, value, geography and sector of the relevant M&A activity, the evolving buyer landscape and the types of businesses and skills sets we are seeing being acquired, but also provide key insights into the trends that we expect in the coming years.


1,188 transactions announced in 2017, marking five years of consecutive growth in M&A activity in the sector

Buyers based in 43 countries acquiring target companies from 52 different countries

Total disclosed value (adjusted to exclude mega-deals) was $69.3.6bn

2 mega- deals over $10bn (three last year) and 17 deals over $1bn (25 last year)

Top 10 acquirers accounted for 98 deals (or 8.2% of overall deal volume)

Dentsu once again overtook WPP as the most active buyer in the sector. Dentsu acquired 24 companies in 2017

Further evidence of consultancies moving into agency space – Accenture have doubled their deal count in 2017

In terms of the most attractive sectors (and sub-sectors) for the buyers, Marketing Technology (including adtech) was the most active sector. Mobile remained popular, but deal volumes went down. Data & Analytics and Digital Content & Creative agencies – featured high on acquirers’ wish lists.

Geographically, US dominated with the deal number (in line with 2016) and UK is on the second spot. While APAC was down (mainly because of the decrease in the activity in China), Western Europe was up 34%, with Germany playing a significant role in this increase in activity. Whilst creating a steady year-on-year growth through 2016, M&A activity in Germany greatly accelerated in 2017 with 63 recorded deals – a fascinating 66% increase.

We expect a busy year in 2018, with accelerated interest from Emerging Buyers and exciting new business models continuing to evolve.

There were 1,188 deals announced (compared to 1,175 deals in 2016). While 2017 did not see a big increase in the number of deals, this was still a record year for M&A activity in the sector. Even though Dentsu remained the most active acquirer, only four major networks feature in the ‘top 10’ list. WPP and Publicis have halved the number of acquisitions compared to 2015 levels whereas Accenture have doubled their deal count in the same period.

Chris Sahota | CEO at Ciesco