New Delhi: Advertising firm Dentsu Aegis Network on Wednesday said it has acquired local performance marketing and analytics agency Sokrati. The acquisition will enable Dentsu to launch its global data-driven performance marketing agency Merkle in India. Sokrati will be rebranded Merkle Sokrati.
The deal size is estimated between Rs700 and Rs800 crore and it is expected to close this week.
Founded in 2009, Sokrati is headquartered in Pune and employs 120 digital marketing professionals. The company offers digital and performance marketing services including search and performance, social, retargeting, display and video production, and product ads. Among its clients are e-commerce platform eBay, cab-hailing app Ola, Kotak Life Insurance, telecom company Bharti Airtel, direct-to-home firm Tata Sky and Viacom 18-owned online video streaming platform Voot.
Sokrati chief executive officer (CEO) Ashish Mehta, enterprise business head Anubhav Sonthalia and head of innovations Santosh Kumar Gannavarapu will join the Dentsu leadership team.
After the acquisition, Sonthalia will become the CEO of Merkle Sokrati and will report to Vivek Bhargava, CEO of performance, Dentsu Aegis Network India, and Zhengda Shen, president, Merkle Asia-Pacific.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, said, “Globally we acquired Merkel who are the leaders in data analytics. In India, while everybody is talking about big data and analytics, we are the first ones to make significant investment in the area. As a group, we are the most dominant players in most areas of digital advertising. With Sokrati on board, we will now be more than twice the size of any of our competitors in search and performance. Out of 3,500 staff in India, about 1,500 will be digital professionals, and over 35% of our revenue—a market-leading statistic—will come from digital."
Dentsu Aegis Network has been on an acquisition spree. Last year, it made three big acquisitions including Perfect Relations, the public relations firm owned by Dileep Cherian, for an estimated Rs200-250 crore. This was followed by creative marketing agency Happy Creative Services that was acquired for an estimated Rs300 crore and experiential design studio Fractal Ink for Rs250 crore.
“The rules of advertising, especially digital, are changing fast. There are new ad formats coming and the existing ones are evolving at a rapid pace. Most importantly, the behaviour of the digital-first consumer is changing faster than ever and therefore data must guide one’s marketing decisions in order to get the best return on investment," said Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, chief executive, Gozoop, an independent digital marketing agency.
He added that Sokrati’s acquisition was a smart move by Dentsu because it is the way the industry is headed. “It further reinforces Dentsu’s aggressive push in the Indian market," he said.