On The Digital Acquisition Spree Of Dentsu Aegis Network In Asia

Dentsu Aegis Network recently acquired digital agency Emerald, making it the second acquisition after WAT in India, we look at the growing focus of the network specially in Asia


“A third of our business is Asia, a third is Europe and a third is in the Americas where we now have a billion dollar revenue business,” Jerry Buhlman, Dentsu Aegis chief executive shared while talking to The Drum last year. However if we look at the recent acquisitions made by Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), a multinational media and digital marketing communications company headquartered in London, then the interest in Asia tops the list.

DAN which manages all the Dentsu inc. owned businesses outside the Japan market, recently entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a stake in Emerald, a full service digital marketing agency in Vietnam. Post acquisition Emerald will become a company within Isobar, and will be referred to as ‘Emerald – Linked by Isobar’.

The acquisition grows Isobar’s network in Asia Pacific, moving into the Vietnamese market for the first time. The acquisition of Emerald will see Dentsu Aegis Network Vietnam grow from 162 staff to 242 in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. “Bringing Emerald into Isobar adds another dimension to our market, leading digital capabilities in Southeast Asia and particularly Vietnam where we see huge potential for digital growth. I look forward to bringing new thinking and expertise into the network to better service our clients’ needs,” said Dick van Motman, Chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia.

Founded in 2009 by communication practitioners Denise Thi (Thi Anh Dao) and Nguyen Khoa Hong Thanh, Emerald has a team of over 80 digital marketing experts, servicing international and local brands such as Adidas, Air France, Vinamilk and Kaspersky Lab.

The acquisition news of Emerald comes close on heels after Dentsu Aegis Network India acquired upwards of 75% stake in WATConsult at a valuation of anywhere between Rs 180 crore and Rs 200 crore. WAT Consult will now be referred as “WATConsult – Linked by Isobar”.

Dentsu Aegis acquires WAT

While the financial details of the deal were not revealed, Rajiv will continue as CEO of the entity and will report to Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network. His key management team, including Nipun Kapur, COO of WATConsult and Heeru Dingra, CFO of WATConsult, will also continue in their respective roles.

“Most large networks rarely talk to each other, they work in silos. Even if they are from the same family they are competing with each other. Dentsu Aegis has been one network that have one P&L per country model and they imbibe the philosophy of working together. Future of digital lies in integration and we feel that Dentsu understands it much better than any other network,” Rajiv said in a conversation with Lighthouse Insights post the acquisition news.

Dentsu Aegis which has more than 650 plus people in digital, already has four agencies under its belt with a specific specialization. With WAT Consult joining its network it will have a strong presence in social media like it has in performance marketing with iProspect, creative media buying & planning with Isobar and then the immense skill set of Webchutney in digital. “With these four acquisitions in India, we now have the best and comprehensive digital team in the country. So that we can offer our clients end to end solutions with the best specialist in every area,” informed Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network, on the reason behind acquiring another agency in the country.

Dentsu’s considerably increased  focus on Asia could also be measured by its announcement of a new management structure in Singapore and across the region.

According to We Are Singapore’s latest findings: “The average internet user spends around 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day, with Southeast Asians registering the highest average daily use. Research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that Filipino internet users spend more than 6 hours per day using the net, with Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Malaysians also all averaging more than 5 hours of use per day.”

India which is the fastest growing smartphone nation in Asia, is dominated by mobile devices, with phones alone accounting for 72% of all web pages served in the world’s second most populous nation. Not only that Mobile commerce is picking up momentum around the world though, especially in East Asia, with data suggesting that 37% of South Koreans bought something online via a mobile phone in the past month. The Chinese are also increasingly becoming active mobile shoppers.

With the massive adoption of digital and mobile in the Asian continent, the digital advertising market is predicted to grow by 22% in 2015. Digital advertising expenditures in the region totaled $46.6 billion in 2014, an increase of 30% from the prior year, according to U.S. market research company eMarketer. In terms of digital advertising markets, Indonesia is projected to eclipse India in 2016 and South Korea in 2018.

It is also being predicted that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to surpass North America in market share in 2017, becoming the world’s largest digital advertising market. It looks like Dentsu Aegis Network’s vision for Asia is aligned to the growing trends and the demands of the market.

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