The trillion dollar advertising space is a rapidly changing industry with most of the action happening on the digital marketing side. As the world’s digital advertising revenues increase, there is a global demand for more online content. Lead generation, advertising, search engine optimization, and affiliate partnerships are major drivers of income in the 21st century marketing industry. This demand drives up the value of content-related businesses and digital marketing agencies in an era where everyone is glued to their connected devices. All of this screen time has caused traditional advertisers (print, TV, outdoor, radio) to shift their largest spends to digital marketing tactics and mobile internet advertising, even outspending television ads.
Worldwide digital advertising spending is predicted to reach $517 billion by the end of the year 2023.
The robust growth, sheer size, and high fragmentation of the digital marketing sector has led to healthy mergers and acquisitions activity involving digital agencies. Everyone from traditional advertising agencies to private equity investors is seeking target companies that offer growth benefits.
The establishment of digital capabilities and relationships has become a major priority for traditional ad agencies and their large holding companies as they look to grow their digital revenue and expand their portfolios. As conventional media continues to be displaced by digital marketing, the percentage of media spend on digital marketing on behalf of traditional ad agencies will continue to grow.
In the digital marketing industry, there is also growing popularity of technologies that offer individualized features and more in-depth experiences. Brands are being pushed to invest and acquire these types of technologies while post-sales marketing has become a more prominent element along the customer journey.
- The use of chatbots and personalized messaging is enhancing customer experiences.
- Audio queries made possible by smart devices and digital assistants are driving voice search.
- Online video advertising is a quickly growing segment.
- Artificial intelligence analytics are helping to better target marketing strategies based off of real-time data. This data leads to meaningful insights that are used to improve customer interaction, and optimize media budgets and marketing strategies.
- Social search is changing e-commerce and vehicles for product reviews and recommendations.
This industry is sure to see more and more future technologies that have yet to be developed, continuing to drive rapid change and growth, and create opportunities for M&A.
Large User Platforms
Giant platform companies such as Google and Facebook provide free digital products and services but are still able to profit because they reach such massive audiences.
The larger the platform, the more consumer data is collected. The more a consumer uses the platform, the more information is gleaned about them. And with more data, the platform can better tailor the content consumers see, and keep them on the platform longer. This results in improved customer experiences and more advertising capacity, which means better understanding of consumers, heightened influence, and more revenue from targeted advertising.
Affiliate partnerships use affiliate websites to promote products or services that belong to another company. The valuation of an affiliate website depends on the specific terms of the affiliate program. These factors include longevity, product category and seasonality, commission tiers, high caliber content, and the link portfolio. Websites that fulfill these attributes often have the better earnings, margins and lifecycle, which are attractive to investors. For valuation purposes, advertising agencies are similar to affiliate businesses because they are dependent upon content and end-user action to produce revenue.
These types of partnerships that monetize content also apply to offline businesses that need new and better ways to generate access to audiences. Investors also tend to be drawn to this segment based on existing relationships that can be used to an advantage.
Some digital marketing agencies are being established with the goal of selling in mind. There are extremely low entry barriers when it comes to creating a digital marketing firm, but there are also limited benefits to growth. Some brands do not wish to work with a huge firm. And low employee tenure means lower retained corporate knowledge in an industry where talent retention is already incredibly challenging.
An agency with strong historical growth and projected growth of more than 20% can lead to strong multiples. The purchase of smaller agencies offers opportunities for growth for the large advertising agency groups and an easy way to cash out for the leadership of the smaller agencies.
Please feel free to contact our M&A advisors at Benchmark International to discuss your next move. Our industry expertise and global connections are true game changers when it comes to selling or growing a company, and forming an exit plan.
Americas: Sam Smoot at +1 (813) 898 2350 / Smoot@BenchmarkCorporate.com
Europe: Carl Settle at +44 (0)161 359 4400 / Settle@BenchmarkCorporate.com
Africa: Anthony McCardle at +2721 300 2055 / McCardle@BenchmarkCorporate.com
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Benchmark International’s global offices provide business owners in the middle market and lower middle market with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. To date, Benchmark International has handled engagements in excess of $6B across various industries worldwide. With decades of global M&A experience, Benchmark International’s deal teams, working from 12 offices across the world, have assisted hundreds of owners with achieving their personal objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses.