Omnicom's Wren lays out plans for flurry of acquisitions

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Omnicom Group President-CEO John Wren last week mapped out an acquisition strategy that may heat up in the coming months with targets likely to include customer-relationship-management firms as well as agencies in Asia.

The plan was laid out in its quarterly conference call with analysts in which Omnicom revealed another double-digit earnings increase, driven by strong performance in the U.S., South America and Asia.

The largest ad agency holding company said net income for the second quarter was up 10% to $225.8 million from $206.1 million a year ago. Revenue rose 9% to $2.62 billion from $2.4 billion last year.


Mr. Wren's signal that some deals could be in the offing is news in an industry where most of the juiciest targets have been snatched up by his own firm and rivals WPP Group, Interpublic Group of Cos. and Publicis Groupe.

The acquisition landscape could be reinvigorated by a discipline that, though not as flashy as its advertising brethren, has caught the attention of marketers impressed by its measurability.

CRM, which includes sophisticated analytics as well as traditional direct-marketing techniques, has become a vital part of Omnicom's business in recent years as marketers have become more interested in using customer data to shape one-to-one marketing programs.

For the second quarter, CRM was responsible for 34.2% of Omnicom's revenue compared with advertising's 44.1% share. Omnicom owns a host of CRM agencies, including Rapp Collins and Targetbase. "Our focus is on CRM and companies where there is truly a measurable return on investment that can be substantiated," Mr. Wren said.

Omnicom's other focus will be on Asia. Mr. Wren said he recently approved 10 acquisition targets put forth by Michael Birkin, Omnicom's new Asia/Pacific CEO.

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Smoke Signals

* Omnicom is likely to focus on CRM, which marketers like because of its measurability

* Wren has approved 10 acquisition targets in Asia suggested by Omnicom’s Asia/Pacific CEO.

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