Publicis snaps up Popimedia in R350m+ deal

Publicis’ South African buying spree shows no signs of slowing down. On Wednesday, the French agency network announced that it had completed an outright acquisition of Johannesburg-based ad tech company Popimedia in a deal which industry insiders say is worth more than R350-million.

Founded in 2007 by Daniel Levy, Ryan Silberman and Gil Sperling, Popimedia works predominantly in the social space, with the aim of helping clients maximise the value of their effort and spend within the social realm.

The acquisition comes just months after Publicis confirmed its acquisition of The Creative Counsel, a stakeholder in Popimedia, in a record deal which was believed to be worth around R1-billion.

Daniel Levy

Popimedia CEO and co-founder Daniel Levy

That’s no accident either. According to Levy, there were a “whole host of reasons” for accepting Publicis’ offer. But, he told Memeburn, the existing synergy with The Creative Counsel — as well as the fact that Publicis was first to the table with an offer — helped push the French mega network to the top of Popimedia’s preferred buyer list.

Aside from its value, the Popimedia deal is also significant because it is the first Facebook Marketing Partner anywhere in the world to be sold to a major network.

According to Levy, the deal also shows that the company is a much bigger force in the South African online space than it is sometimes made out to be.

“In the industry, we’ve always been seen as a small player,” he told Memeburn. “We’re the absolute antithesis of that”.

“We’ve built a sizable company and we’re very proud of it,” he added.

Both Levy and Sperling are keen to point out that Popimedia is not an agency, but a builder of technology products — something they say has allowed the company to scale without needing “hundreds of people”.

“We’ve had one underlying principle from the beginning,” Sperling told us, “and that is to build a scalable, global, technology-based business. And we’ve done that”.

Gil Sperling, CTO, Popimedia

Popimedia CTO and co-founder Gil Sperling

Those are big statements, but they’re backed up by the fact that the company is today the largest buyer of social media inventory on the African continent.

Kevin Tromp, Publicis Africa Group CEO indicated that the acquisition will provide clients across the continent and beyond with tools and skills that provide measurable competitive advantage.

“With this investment in Popimedia, we will increase the breadth of our offering to clients, enabling them to maximise campaign reach and through the line conversion and engagement, via social and digital media.

“We are committed to providing clients with solutions that maximise the value and positive outcomes of their investment, so Popimedia was a natural choice in the search for a partner that could provide measurable results for clients and increase their campaign effectiveness.”

“The acquisition shows that social and digital media is no longer a nice to have, but critical to brand growth in current markets. As such specialist skills such as ours have become a necessity for communication agencies and clients looking to deliver phenomenal results. The fact that we can offer proprietary technology in addition to specialist skills enables us to offer substantial value and a competitive edge for a global network such as Publicis,” says Levy, CEO of Popimedia.

According to Tromp Popimedia will continue to operate under its own brand but that it would be included extensively in the broad-based agency group’s current and future offering. Levy and Sperling also told Memeburn that their plan was to remain with Popimedia for “the foreseeable future”.

“We’re active in markets throughout Africa, and the Popimedia product has important application across the continent. With this partnership, we can now provide our clients with competitive advantage in the ad-tech space, wherever they choose to do business,” says Tromp.



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