In our half-yearly dealtracker updates we analyse mergers and acquisitions for the digital agency & marketing services. We highlight the following aspects of this sector from an M&A perspective:

  • The number of European transactions, throughout the specified period, including the development of the cross-border and financial buyer deal percentage.
  • The recent development of the European valuation multiples.
  • Geographical split of European targets in cross-border transactions.
  • Geographical split of international buyers in cross-border transactions.
  • Noteworthy recent transactions with Dutch and international targets.

2020 1st half year

M&A activity in the European Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector

In the first half of 2020 a total of 184 deals took place. After a peak in 2016 we already noticed a steady decline in deal activity within the sector. It is obvious that M&A activity in 2020 took a major hit from the COVID-19 crisis. With respect to the same period in 2019, deal volume decreased by 34% within the European Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector. In the first half of 2020 we see that deals are mainly driven by (inter)national expansion, adding new technologies and services and further strengthening the operations.

2019 2nd half year

Gaining data-driven personalisation technology and (inter)national growth strategies are still the main drivers in 2nd half year

During the second half of 2019 one of the main drivers of M&A activity in the sector was the ability to gain data-driven personalisation technology. This rationale for example explains the acquisitions of Aiden by Twitter and PromoteIQ by Microsoft. Another driver of mergers and acquisitions was the opportunity to expand operations and grow to be a dominant player in the sector, which fits perfectly with the buy-and-build strategies of private equity firms.

2019 1st half year

Integrated data expertise and (inter)national growth strategies are the main deal drivers in the sector

Within the Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector we observe an increased importance of integrated client data. This integrated data expertise enables companies to more accurately target a specific group of (potential) customers for their clients. Next to (inter)national growth strategies, we observe this data expertise as the main driver for companies to be acquisitive. This is shown in the acquisition of Lattice by Dun & Bradstreet, with the acquisition Dun & Bradstreet will be able to offer more personal and effective marketing campaigns to their customers. Another trend we observe is that consulting companies are acquisitive in the Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector to expand their expertise in digital marketing. The acquisition of Dutch full-service digital agency Storm Digital by Accenture Interactive is an example of this trend.


2018 4th quarter

Number of deals decreases in Q4 2018, but the sector shows a stable level of valuations

Although the number of transactions in the European Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector is slightly higher in Q4 of 2018 compared to Q4 of 2017, the total number of transactions in 2018 has decreased compared to 2017. In contrast, we observe the median transaction multiple of 10,5 to be higher compared to 2017 (9,8).

2018 3rd quarter

Number of deals slightly decreasing but the sector shows a stable level of valuations

The number of transactions in the European Digital Agency & Marketing Services sector increased significantly the past few years, with a downward trend in Q3 2018 as it shows a decrease in total transactions of 22%. This decrease is however combined with a stable transaction multiple of 9,9x EBITDA.

2018 2nd quarter

Digital agencies popular target for private equity

In Q2 of 2018, 53 digital agencies have been sold in Europe, which is a slight decrease compared to the previous quarter. Since Q3 of 2017 the amount of deals in the digital agency sector has been decreasing marginally but steadily.

2018 1st quarter

Digital agencies popular target among various buyer groups

In the first three months of 2018, we observe 55 transactions in Europe, which is slightly below the average number of quarterly transactions, during the period of 2014-2018.

If you have any queries related to transaction services, including mergers and acquisitions, company sale, valuation services, transaction due diligence and financing, please contact our M&A advisors.