Merkle and Gyro merge with Dentsu shops for B2B giant

Michael-McLarenDentsu Aegis Network is combining five of its data-driven marketing agencies – Merkle, DWA, Gyro, B2B International and Digital Pi – to create a B2B “powerhouse” to serve clients’ needs under a single entity.

For the time being, the agencies within the group will retain their own identities and clients – which currently bring in $16bn (£11.9bn) in global billings – but will eventually merge and rebrand.

The driving force is for them to work together to be a “strategic growth partner to help understand businesses’ requirements, connect with customers, and grow companies with new solutions, new audiences, and new markets”.

Global chief executive Michael McLaren said: “The goal of this strategic integration is to deliver B2B brand creation and activation on a global scale, making it easier for marketers to enable end-to-end business marketing solutions.”

McLaren told the Drum: “The B2B marketplace is accelerating its level of digital transformation and that is coming about largely because of changing customer expectations. Companies were already waking up to the fact that they needed to get their digital ecosystem in order. Now it’s all happening virtually, in social channels, in informal peer group channels, website searches.

“The companies that don’t have the dots connected are really going to struggle. And, buyers are getting better and better at leveraging digital. Increasingly millennials are penetrating the key influencer role. They’re very comfortable in their ability to navigate the ecosystem. So, companies that are investing in technology and enhancing customer experiences are going to leapfrog the competition as a result of Covid-19.”

McLaren claims that the B2B market has been “massively underserved”. He added: “If clients really want to try and integrate a connected customer experience, it’s on them to do it. They have to go find a social agency, digital agency and website experience agency and build a content engine and a media operation in-house.

“They are juggling all these balls. I don’t think it’s possible to find it in one place, other than Merkle B2B, and have it all work together straight out of the gate.”

When asked about the timescale for the rebrand, he explained: “As we sell more integrated solutions to clients – where we’re bringing multiple players together – we’ll be doing that as Merkle B2B. Where we sell point solutions, whether it’s just creative or just media, we’ll be doing that as the individual brands.

“We’re not saying that you can only work with us if you give us everything because that’s just not realistic. What we are saying is: we’ve got these best-in-breed capabilities and you can continue to buy those. But at the same time, we have a vision of more integrated, data-driven, tech-enabled solutions that are only able to be delivered by bringing us all together.”

In May, Dentsu revealed that its data-driven marketing agencies – spearheaded by Merkle – were outperforming all other parts of the business, proving resilient to the Covid-19 downturn due to client demand and long term contracts.

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