Byravee Iyer
Nov 9, 2015

The Asia impact of GroupM’s Essence acquisition

GLOBAL - Christian Juhl, CEO of Essence, the London-based independent media buying agency recently bought by GroupM, explains what the acquisition will mean in Asia.

Christian Juhl
Christian Juhl

Essence touts a transparent approach to custom planning and buying that’s built to support media buying for Google, its largest client. Its other clients include the Financial Times, HP, Viber and Tesco Mobile. The firm will collaborate with the GroupM agencies—Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom and Maxus—on certain projects.

In Asia-Pacific, according to CEO Christian Juhl, GroupM’s global reach and infrastructure will allow the company to not only better serve global clients but also extend its offering to APAC-based companies. Essence opened its doors in Singapore in 2013 and launched in Tokyo last year. It employs more than 60 people in Asia.

Why is WPP interested in acquiring Essence?

WPP has had a strategic focus on digital growth for some time now. They have continued to invest in data partnerships and R&D to remain above the market. GroupM in particular is playing a pivotal role in the space by taking bold positions on pressing issues like viewability and measurement.

Similarly, Essence has maintained their transparent approach to media buying since inception. This unique point of view that Essence has brought to market will be supported and accelerated by GroupM. GroupM agencies are global leaders in their own right, and WPP is notorious for integrating brands into their group without stripping away their identity. 

What are the implications of this acquisition in Asia-Pacific? What can we expect more of?

With over 60 people in Asia across our Singapore and Tokyo offices, the global reach of GroupM will absolutely fuel the growth and expansion of Essence in APAC. This won't just impact the increased support we can provide our global clients on the ground, it will better position us to take on APAC-based businesses, which we're really excited about.

What advantage does Essence and your technology, Olive, add to the firm’s business when compared to all the current GroupM agencies?

Olive is our in-house technology that was built to serve as our exclusive tool for global campaign management and planning. This groundbreaking tool supports GroupM's mission to be the biggest and best in the industry by investing in proprietary data and technology.    

How does Essence’s buying model differ from other GroupM agencies?

Essence has always had a transparent approach to media buying. Unlike other agencies, we don't have a trading-desk model. While GroupM houses Xaxis, a trading platform that buys and sells media on behalf of GroupM clients, Essence will continue solely buying media. 

WPP has reportedly been in talks with Essence for two years. What took the deal so long?

Given our rapid growth, there were many companies that expressed interest in Essence. We took our time evaluating our options to make sure whatever move we made was the best for us.

Will Essence operate within the GroupM umbrella?

Yes. Essence will continue to operate as an independent brand, but will have access to GroupM's reach and infrastructure. We will also collaborate with other GroupM agencies on specific assignments.

Do you foresee any restructuring of teams?

We do not currently foresee any immediate team restructures. However, I will join the executive committee within GroupM and will report into Rob Norman, chief digital officer.

 

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