Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the marketing world reached $33 billion in 2018, an increase of 144 percent on the previous year, according to consultancy R3.
Technology companies rather than agency holding groups were the biggest spenders last year, with Adobe's $4.75 billion acquisition of software firm Marketo being the largest in R3's December M&A league table.
Tech businesses including Salesforce and Alibaba spent a total of $7.8 billion in 2018, a huge increase on the $632 million spent in 2017. Alibaba acquired a 6.62 percent stake in digital screen company Focus Media for $1.43 billion last July, as part of its exploration of "new models of digital marketing."
Agency holding companies including McCann owner IPG and Japanese group Dentsu spent $6.3 billion on deals in 2018, up from $2.7 billion the previous year. These groups also acquired tech companies, with IPG spending $2.3 billion on data mining firm Acxiom in July, in a move that IPG CEO Michael Roth said would help the business provide more personalized and targeted marketing.