Media M & A Gone Wild, or the Great Merger of the Noughties

Posted on May 22, 2007 
Filed Under Uncategorized

The tectonic plates of global media are moving, with an eruption almost every week.

Google’s purchase of DoubleClick for US$3.1b on April 13th seems to have been the trigger for a number of seismic changes across the media landscape. Let’s summarise:

1. Yahoo acquires the rest of internet ad auction exchange Right Media US$680m.
2. WPP Group, which owns Grey Worldwide, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, buys 24/7 Real Media for US$649m.
3. Microsoft forks an hefty US$6b in cash for aQuantive, parent to digital agencies Avenue A, Razorfish, Atlas and DRIVEpm.

In January, Publicis Groupe purchased the online advertising company Digitas for US$1.3b.

Talk is ripe that ValueClick may be a target for the ensuing tsunami.

In media, Thomson Corp’s takeover of British media giant Reuters for 8.7b pounds, News Corp’s bid for Dow Jones, owner for Wall Street Journal, the recent sale of US media giant Tribune, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and APN News & Media’s spurning of O’Reilly’s US$2.3b bid, all suggest we are in
a Marketshare Power Grab mode that shows little sign of abating.

But what does this all mean to us minnows at the bottom rung of media production?

We turn to the Sage of the Zero-Zero Ages, the Oracle of the Odious Times – Mr Jones.

Me: So what happens now Mr Jones?

Mr Jones: You won’t have a cubicle to call home. When the dust settles and the Great Merger of the Noughties are done, you will be made redundant faster that you can say “outsourcing”.

Me: That sounds awfully pessimistic, Mr Jones. Surely, more mergers means more jobs for those us in the media industry?

Mr Jones: Not if your skillsets are still stuck in the 90s. This War Of the Greedy Giants will seem like a recurring dotcom nightmare. Time to start packing.

Me: Packing? But where do I go?

Mr Jones: A one-way ticket to Mumbai, my friend. The pay’s cheap – but the curries are good. Just don’t drink the water.

Me: What?! What the hell am I going to do in India?

Mr Jones: Pick up yoga and preach non-violence.

Me: Is there an alternative?

Mr Jones: Learn Mandarin, move to Shanghai and sell smelly tofu.

Me: Okay, I’m out of here.

Mr Jones: Wait. There is one more thing you can do!

Me: What’s that?

Mr Jones: Write the book. It will be a best-seller. It’s the ultimate old media revenge.

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