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IPG Mediabrands snaps up Indian digital agency Interactive Avenues

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MUMBAI: IPG Mediabrands has snapped up full service digital agency Interactive Avenues for an undisclosed amount, indicating that global media agencies would be aggressively acquiring local digital outfits to grow their businesses in India.

The mood was set in 2012 which saw seven such purchases being made by the biggies. The action is only going to intensify this year.

Says Digit9 founder and managing director Ravi Jaswani, “The big agencies are realising the potential of digital as a medium. They now want to get on to the bandwagon directly on the highway and thus find it easier to acquire specialised digital marketing or integrated agencies. They feel this is a better route than building from scratch.”

Agrees Concept Communication managing director Vivek Suchanti, “The problem here is that none of the traditional media companies have been able to understand the digital media. Internationally, almost 40 per cent of media budgets come from new age media. As our market matures, it will happen here too as they need local skill sets. We will continue to see many such acquisitions in future.”

With this purchase, Interactive Avenues becomes an important strategic part of IPG Mediabrands‘ Mediabrands Audience Platform (MAP), the constellation of data driven digital services and technologies that focus on search, display, mobile, social, video, applications and e-commerce.

Interactive Avenues co-founder Amar Deep Singh will become MAP India CEO.

Says IPG Mediabrands global CEO Matt Seiler, "India is a key market for IPG Mediabrands and for IPG as a whole. This acquisitions affirms our commitment to making investments in high growth disciplines and geographies. We believe India is one of the fastest growing and most important global markets. IA has a fantastic track record in India and great future as a part of IPG Mediabrands."

Industry insiders also feel that the two companies will benefit on the technology front as well. Since digital is a technology backed medium, it plays a big role. While IPG can provide Interactive Avenues with better technology to execute its campaigns, the American media communications giant will have access to cheaper manpower in India.

Interactive Avenues will enhance the integrated digital services offered by MAP in India developing its full services offering with creative, production and digital content capabilities. Interactive Avenues will help develop a deeper and more integrated relationship with IPG Mediabrands clients in India and abroad.

The Indian digital agency will sit alongside established IPG Mediabrands agency Reprise Media in the new MAP structure. The acquisition and integration into MAP India will have no impact on the day to day running of the agency, which will remain as it is now. Interactive Avenues will continue to operate as an independent brand within the MAP structure.

Interactive Avenues now has access to a larger roster of clients in India and on the global stage. Also, it is now possible for it to rein in a larger share of the business pie as it gains from IPG‘s wider network.

For Interactive Avenues‘ investors WestBridge Ventures II Investment Holdings (formerly Sequoia Capital Investment) and Anupam Mittal, the stake buyout marks a successful exit.

BC Web Wise founder Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer says, “It will benefit IPG as they get an immediate chunk of digital business. It also offers a lucrative exit for the IA investors.”

With close to 200 employees across offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore focusing exclusively on digital marketing and technology, the acquisition of Interactive Avenues‘ renowned media, creative and digital production units cements IPG Mediabrands‘ position as a leading digital buying unit in the rapidly expanding Indian market, as well as the second largest media holding company. After the launch of Reprise Media in India in 2011, this new move continues IPG Mediabrands‘ strong commitment to implementing industry leading digital services across all of its agencies and will allow it to accelerate its timetable for the launch of its new Cadreon offering.

Interactive Avenues was founded in 2006 and has one of the top three clients in almost every category including Consumer Electronics, FMCG, Technology, Telecom, Banking, Insurance, Travel, eBusiness and Education.

MAP global CEO Breandan Moorcroft says, "We have a clear vision for MAP in India. Interactive Avenues fits perfectly into this. Because we already have an established partnership with Interactive Avenues, we know their strengths and understand and share their core values. IPG Mediabrands recognises where digital is heading and the integration of Interactive Avenues will enable MAP to gain further foothold in the Indian market following its introduction earlier this year."

Singh says, "After a dream run of seven years, we are ready for our next phase of growth. In IPG Mediabrands we have the right partner. They give us access to three fundamental growth catalysts; access to global tools technologies and best practice; access to markets beyond India; and access to global clients in India and beyond. It is a true meeting of minds and cultures, and I am thrilled to be working with such strong local and global leadership. There are exciting times ahead with our plans to develop and launch MAP‘s specialist offerings Cadreon, Spring Creek Group and Ansible in India."

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